Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell - Part 1

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s, you can also get digital tickets at tellussomething.org. We acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendelle Salish and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations, their profound connection to the earth and its resources. Has left an indelible mark on the landscape. We now call home in recognizing their enduring legacy.

We are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving [00:01:00] its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast.

[00:01:17] Stephen Tucker: The world starts to come into clear focus. And I can hear the dog still barking and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks like something is wrong. To do

[00:01:27] Sandy Sheppard: my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient.

I’m a little nervous.

[00:01:40] Jolyne O’Brien: And I turn and look at my daughter, and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure,

[00:01:51] Candace Haster: mom. So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I want to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want [00:02:00] to, but I want to start simply. Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:02:06] Marc Moss: Four storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023. At Bonner Park Band Show, the storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop, refine, and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities.

As well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Stephen Tucker. Stephen Tucker accidentally learns who his favorite cat is when his apartment complex catches fire.

Stephen [00:03:00] calls his story Midnight Mayhem. Thanks for listening.

[00:03:06] Stephen Tucker: In May of 2013, I graduated from the University of Montana with my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. And I got my first teaching job teaching fifth grade in the Bitterroot Valley. And so it was time to finally move out of my college apartment and get a place of my own.

And I knew the first thing that I wanted to do was I was going to replace my college roommate with two cats. I wanted to get two cats in particular because I wanted them to be able to keep each other company when I was gone for the long days of teaching. So I went to the Humane Society with my mindset on finding and adopting two kittens.

And I went into the room with all the kittens, played with them, and there just really wasn’t much of a con Excuse me, much of a connection building and I walked out of the room feeling a little bit disappointed and I walked down a corridor going towards the back of the Humane Society where they have some more enclosures and some bigger cages and that’s when I saw this bigger cage that had these two cats in there.

They [00:04:00] were older cats, eight years old. Uh, their names were Sunshine and Pepper Ann and I took them out and I cuddled with them and in that moment I knew right away. That these cats were going to be my girls. So Sunshine, she’s a Himalayan with this beautiful thick white fur with these golden hues in her ears and in her paws.

And she has these mesmerizing blue eyes that when you stare into them you just can’t help but fall in love with her. And just want to pick her up and hug her and squeeze her. And, which kind of sucks because she hates being picked up more than anything. But, doesn’t stop you from wanting to pick her up and hold her and hug her.

And Pepper Ann. She is a stubborn cat and she’s got these beady yellow eyes. She’s a tortoise shell cat. And the thing that I love so much about her is that she loves to talk to you. And when you stroke her in just the right area, right behind her ear, she’ll cackle at you. So I moved into a small cabin for my first year of teaching down in the Bitterroot Valley.

And when I say small, I mean it was really small. 350, 400 [00:05:00] square feet, lacking a lot of amenities. So after the first year, I knew we needed to find something different. So I moved into a brand new apartment just right behind the Lolo Peak Brewery. And when I say brand new, I mean this apartment was literally brand new.

They had just finished constructing it. You could still smell the fresh paint and the new carpet when you walked in. And this wasn’t just any apartment. This was one of those ones that they built as a luxury apartment. So it had the 18 foot vaulted ceilings, the fancy countertops, the high end appliances.

It didn’t really feel like living in an apartment. It felt like living in a resort. So Sunshine Pepper and I, Pepper Ann and I, we got settled in. Pepper Ann immediately claimed dominion over the guest bed. She covered that thing with so much thick fur, I don’t even remember what color the comforter was, cause she spent all her time there.

I made a mistake, I think I said Sunshine did that, that was Pepper Ann. Sunshine, she found her [00:06:00] happy place on my balcony. And she loved to sit out on my zero gravity chair like a little princess basking in the sunlight. And my favorite thing to do was when I’d go out there and grill and she’d be out there with me and I called her my little grilling partner.

So like I said, we’d been settling in quite well. Beautiful brand new apartment complex. Really quiet as well. Hadn’t even met the neighbors, um, and this was about a month after living there. It’s late. August in 2014. It’s the middle of the night, probably like 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’m fast asleep. And in my sleep, I hear the sound, a muffled sound of a dog barking, ARF, ARF, ARF.

And it, uh, starts to wake me up a little bit. I’m not sure if this is something going on in a dream, or in real life, and it continues. ARF, ARF, ARF. ARF, ARF, ARF. And this goes on for about two or three minutes, all the while I’m slowly starting to wake up but still in that deep sleep fog. And I’m starting to realize, like, this is real life, and I’m getting really confused because I know [00:07:00] it’s three, four in the morning.

And I’m like, why is this neighbor letting their dog bark and bark and bark? And as I’m thinking about this, then I suddenly hear this soft pounding sound. And so now I’m really getting curious and getting a little bit perturbed, starting to wake up even more. I pull out my earplugs, and the world starts to come into clear focus.

And I can hear the dog still barking, and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks, like something is wrong. So that gets my heart rate pumping. And then all of a sudden I hear the pounding again. Pew, pew, pew. And it was the wall of my bedroom shaking. And then I hear, Sheriff’s Department, the building’s on fire, everyone get out.

So again… You know, I’m not fully awake at this point. I’ve got the 3 a. m. brain. And so the first thought that goes through my mind is, well, the building can’t be on fire. It’s brand new. They just finished building it. And I realize that logic makes absolutely no sense. But at 3 a. m. it makes [00:08:00] perfect sense.

So I get out of bed and I go to the front door and I pull it open and as soon as I pull open the door, the smoke immediately starts billowing in. I can smell the burning, um, the burning plastic and the burning wood. And the other thing is I hear the sound of a smoke detector from one of the apartments on the other end of the complex.

It’s beeping. Beep! Beep, beep. And with all of that evidence confronting me, I look down at the sheriff’s deputy who’s down the hallway still pounding on the walls and I say, is there really a fire? I don’t think he heard me because he didn’t say anything in response to me, but that was the moment that it kind of finally clicked and the adrenaline kicked in.

So I ran into my room, changed out of my pajamas and came out into the family room and did what everyone probably would do at that point. In that moment, and I started walking around in circles. So you know how sometimes you have that fight or flight response? You can also have that freeze response. And I could not make a decision about what to do next.

A million [00:09:00] questions were racing through my mind. What, you know, how much time do I have? Do I have time to grab things? What should I grab? Should I grab my computer? Do I, should I grab my documents, my birth certificate? What about the cats? And that’s when I noticed them. They’re just sitting there, without a care in the world, looking up at me.

Wondering what’s going on, why I’m walking around in a panic. And so I realized I gotta get my cats and I gotta get out of here. But again, not that easy making decisions in that moment, still a million questions racing through my head. Well, do I have time to go get their carriers out of the storage closet on the balcony?

Uh, if I come back in, I mean they’re in front of me right now, what if they run away when they see the carriers? You know, then I have to find them, I don’t know how much time I have. So maybe I should just scoop them up. And just carry them out of the apartment. But, you know, things racing through my mind.

What if they get scared, start squirming? I don’t want one of them to get away. The last thing I want is one of them to disappear and to lose one of them. So, again, I can’t make a decision. And then, just suddenly, without [00:10:00] thinking, I grab Sunshine and I run. So I’m carrying her out the door, across the balcony way, down the stairs.

She’s digging her claws into me, squirming. Uh, and get down to my car, open it up, toss her in, and then turn around. And I can kind of assess the scene and take in what’s going on. And there is an apartment that’s on the complete… The opposite end of the complex, as far away from mine as it could possibly be, and on the balcony, there’s flames that are building up, they must be like 5 or 10 feet tall.

It’s a pretty raging fire. But I can see that it’s contained in the balcony really far away from my place. So I realize, okay, it’s safe, I’m gonna go back in. I’m gonna go get Pepper Ann now. So, same story, she’s digging her claws into me, probably a little bit extra hard because she’s like, what the heck, why’d you leave me?

And, got her in the car, and then that’s when I really had the time to start breathing, taking the scenario, I realized, all my neighbors are out there with me as well, these people I’ve never met, what a weird way to Get to know your neighbors standing out watching the building burn at three [00:11:00] in the morning.

And you know, like me, there’s some of the neighbors, they’re out there with their pets. We’ve got a neighbor who’s with their dog, and we get to chatting with each other, and one of the neighbors tells the story of what happened. They said we were asleep in our beds and we heard this loud, huge explosion.

It shook the whole apartment and we looked out the window. The next door neighbor’s balcony was on fire. So we called 9 1 1 and reported it. And when we gave him the address, They didn’t know where we were. Remember that part where I said that the building was brand new? Apparently it was so brand new that 911 didn’t even know that it existed.

So they had to give them directions. Um, but all the while, while we’re having this conversation, the fire department’s there, and I hear, it sounds like Niagara Falls, like thousands of gallons of water that they’re using to douse this fire on this balcony, and it’s pouring over the edge. And it was probably about an hour or so before they had it completely mopped up and we were able to go back inside.

And I remember thinking, man, how the heck am I going to fall asleep now? So what you don’t know is, the next day is basically the [00:12:00] first day of teacher orientation returning back to school. So, you want to talk about back to school nightmares, I pretty much lived one of those. So, I don’t think I did get back to sleep, but went to school the next day, everything went well.

Came home and talked to that same neighbor and they had talked to the landlord, the landlord had figured out what had happened. And so apparently the people who live in that corner apartment, they were smoking a cigarette earlier in the afternoon and they put it out in a dried flower pot on their balcony.

And then they up and went out of town. And that thing smoldered in the flower pot all day and all night until the middle of the night when a flame caught. And then that lit the dried plant on fire. And then that flame spread to the gas tank of a lawnmower that they had on their balcony. And that detonated and that caused the whole incident.

And I remember taking away two things. The first one was thinking to myself, who the [00:13:00] hell lives in a second floor apartment and has a lawnmower on their balcony? And the second thing was, I think I might have just accidentally figured out which of my cats is my favorite. I’m sorry, Pepper Ann.

[00:13:18] Marc Moss: Thanks, Steven. Steven Tucker is a third grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley with ten years of experience. As a teacher, he has a passion for science, technology, and coaching Lego robotics. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and spending his days on the lake with his pedalboard. When he is not teaching or enjoying the outdoors, Stephen spends his time watching way too much YouTube and indulging in his unhealthy obsession with Taco Bell.

Our next storyteller is Sandy Shepard, who details her ordeal of becoming the first woman optometrist in Montana in the 1980s. Sandy calls her story, I Will Rise Up, or It Takes a Little Time. Thanks for listening. [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Sandy Sheppard: Hello, Missoula!


so nice to be here with you. Thanks for coming. But in 1982, this was a different state. Summer of 1982, my husband and I moved from the University of California at Berkeley because he was taking his dream job at the University of Montana. He was teaching fire science, and he was close to the fishin and the huntin So, it was my job to find my place in this new state, this new town.

Being a practicing optometrist, I knew what I had to do first. I had to go to Helena, Montana, a new city for me, and take the board exam. Uh, several people come once a year, and um, you take a written test, A lab test and then you examine a real live patient. [00:15:00] Well, my lucky day, I had a six year old in my chair and I knew this was gonna be a piece of cake.

I go to the right eye, I scope ’em, I say, which is better? One, two. I go to the left eye, which is better? 1, 2, 1. Done. Well, I walk out to the mom, I tell her my results, I predict her son’s future, and I ask, do you have any questions? And then, I leave with my husband because it’s time to go home. Job done.

Check. Well, I have to wait two or four weeks to get my little acceptance letter.

And guess what? I failed.

I failed because I didn’t go and ask the mother if she had any questions. Oh, I was so naive. I trusted the system. I [00:16:00] trusted that the board would know I went out and asked the mother or if they knew I needed to they would have followed me.

But I didn’t go and say, Hey, I just asked the mom questions and here’s what we said. I was baffled and I was angry. I got myself an aggressive woman attorney. And she went to the board and she told me, hey, they’re going to do you a favor. They’re going to give you a I passed

the first one. She said, Sandy. You can either take this special test or you can wait till next year. I didn’t have a choice, so my husband and I go to a new city. Great Falls, Montana.


we enter this old optometrist’s office, which is fine because I love old equipment. [00:17:00] And guess who my patient is this time?

The old optometrist. Who happens to be a member of the board. So, to do my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient. I’m a little nervous. In fact, the tension is so strong you can cut it with a knife. I gotta prove myself. So I scope the right eye.

Pretty easy. I scope the left. Well, I’ll do the right first. Which is better? One, two. Which is better? One, two. Okay. I go to the left eye.

Guess what? This eye’s a whopper! It’s off the charts!

If I [00:18:00] weren’t so nervous,

I would’ve figured it out. I would’ve taken that faropt away and I said, You were born with a bum eye, weren’t you? But, I was reduced. I had lost. And I went to the car and said to my husband, Let’s go, I failed again. Well, this is a little Japanese American guy, a great debater, a great professor, internationally known.

He’s not gonna let this stop us. So he goes back into the building, talks to him, comes out, Sandy, you gotta go in and talk to him. They wanna talk to you. Oh my God. So I do. I go back in, and guess what they say? What do you have to say for yourself? I’m reduced to a four year old Navy [00:19:00] brat who doesn’t have a place at the table.

I can’t defend myself, I just buckle. I crumble. And I walk out. I don’t say a word. Well, I looked at my husband, guess who gets my wrath? My husband. I didn’t realize that he didn’t understand what we were up against. That we were up against men who were narrow minded, who weren’t ready for the first woman optometrist, let alone from California.

Who could have been racist. He was Japanese. I didn’t know that, but I sure was mad at him for throwing me into a snake pit. So we’re driving home. I’m fuming and I’m just so full of shame. I flunked twice that I just [00:20:00] wanted to throw myself out of the speeding car. But I didn’t. Thank God. And we went home.

My plan was I’m going back to California. I’ll wait a year and come back and take the test. I did so well in California. I stayed with my step grandparents. My adopted grandparents. We had martinis every night. I found two awesome jobs. And one time she said to me, Sandy, I just know when you’re going downstairs, you’re just crying in your pillow because you miss your husband so badly.

I said, yes, I do. I couldn’t tell her that I was going downstairs, snog her into my, my pillow. So it was lovely being with them again. And then I went home. It was July. It was July the next year,

[00:21:00] and I went

to take my test. Lo and behold, I

didn’t have to hardly take

any test, and they passed me. I can’t even remember what little test I had to take.

What shocking, what a shocking situation. Why did they make me wait a year? But, the point is, I came home, I started my own business, I bought my building, I retired at 60, and… I love Montana. I love Missoula. My husband is not my husband anymore, but I sure am grateful that he brought me here.

Thank you.

[00:21:43] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sandy. Sandy Shepard was a Navy brat. She lived in oceans, bays and islands. She is thrilled now to be living on the Clark Fork River. Who would have guessed that she would have landed in Missoula, Montana and would have stayed for 41 years. Sandy believes that her first three years [00:22:00] may have been happier landing on the moon.

Coming up after the break

[00:22:03] Jolyne O’Brien: … and I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure mom.

[00:22:15] Candace Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I’m going to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. Okay. You should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:22:30] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event. You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org better yet though. Why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets?

These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters. Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rudy’s. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rudy’s or get the digital version at [00:23:00] tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. Jolene O’Brien shares her story about what people never told her about pregnancy. Jolene calls her story, No One Told Me, or The Fourth Trimester. Thanks for listening.

[00:23:17] Jolyne O’Brien: Good evening, thanks for coming out tonight. Um, it all, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2020.

Four beautiful, huge, bald heads, eight arms, eight legs, came through this body. And no one told me.

I remember the summer of 2014. It was shortly before I gave birth to my second child. I was super pregnant in my third trimester. And my husband was [00:24:00] leaving for Phoenix to go for a business trip. And I thought, I’ll tag along. Winter was coming in Missoula, and I needed all the vitamin D that I could get.

I should have been traveling on an airplane at that time, but I went ahead and went anyways. And while we were in Phoenix, my husband was off doing his business thing, and I decided to research some really great things to do. So I came across this taco truck event. That was about 200 taco trucks all in one area.

If you love tacos, raise your hand. You are my people and we Couldn’t get tickets, they were sold out. So I went ahead and shenaggled and got us um, some free tickets through um, this marketing event that I told them that I would do which was take a picture of myself on Facebook really quick and then get free tickets and hop into the Docker Truck event.

Fabulous. So as we were at [00:25:00] this taco truck event, we walk in and I can smell the barbacoa, and I can hear the sizzling, and I see the fresh pico de gallo, but I do what all pregnant women do, and I scope out the bathroom scene. So I find it, it’s an amazing set of port o potties off to the side. I tell my husband I’m gonna go get in line, and he’s thinking for tacos, and I’m actually heading to the line of the port o pot, and I head over there.

My husband graciously and lovingly joins me in line because we know no one in this thousand person taco truck event. So I go to the restroom. Go get a taco, go back to the restroom, taco, back to the restroom, taco, my husband ditches me, I go to the restroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing that.

It was hot, it was hot, it was muggy. My, my event wasn’t as great as his, he had all the tacos he could eat, I spent my event smelling a port a [00:26:00] pot. So we leave, and the next morning, we go, um, to go to the airport, and my husband is super punctual, and I am on time if I’m 30 minutes late. We are running 30 minutes late.

So he is agitated, irritated, and we show up and it’s um, the part of the airport that’s under construction. So, there’s no bathrooms, there’s no restaurants, and there’s no um, like clothing and cute purses and bags that you normally would see when you walk through an airport. So that’s fine. So we get in line and I am doing again what all pregnant women would do.

I’m scoping out for the bathroom scene. And it is at, we are at the back of this huge line, and it’s on the other side of the TSA. Excuse me. So on the other side of the T ss A, so I am thinking to myself, well, if I can snaggle some taco tickets that are sold out, I can sure as heck get to that bathroom really quick.[00:27:00]

So I ditched the luggage and I start like weaving through the line. Like I know somebody at the front like you might do in Disneyland. There’s my partner up there you go. That’s for me. And I get to the front and I go through T S A. And my only focus at this point is to get to that bathroom. Well, the gentleman who’s running the TSA, 6’4 bald, 350 pound man, had a different agenda.

He pulls me over to the side and wants to search me because I look super suspicious with my belly looking like I swallowed two watermelons. I’m in a dress kind of similar to what I’m wearing tonight. So I said, Sir, I’m so sorry, but I have to go to the restroom. And he said, I’m not, no, that can’t happen.

Follow me. Well, I’m not really wanting to follow him. So I said, no, I really have to use the restroom. And he says, I’m sorry, you can’t. Please follow me into this room. And he walks me. Mind you, I just, all the people I just snuck in front of. Okay, don’t forget that. [00:28:00] I walk in front, or I’m walking a couple steps behind him.

And he takes three steps to his room. Which is a quadrilateral of four translucent… Help me with the word. Walls. Thank you. Where everyone is now watching me get searched by my new friend. So I’m the lady in Costco that when you want to come talk to me about how cute my belly looks, I don’t want you to touch me or rub you.

Or rub me. Please don’t do that. And I’m realizing I’m about to get searched. He asks for, put my arms out, put my legs out. And I’m thinking to myself, I’m not going to make it. So again, I plead. Sir, I really need to use the restroom. No, you may not. He is as serious as serious can be. And he’s not realizing the seriousness of the situation.

So my arms are out. He rubs, he has no wand, for whatever reason. And he rubs his arms across my arm, back under, down my… [00:29:00] Sides down my leg and over my shoe. Well at this moment I am like starting to panic. And I do what all beautiful third trimester women would do in this situation. And as he takes his hands to check up my legs, I pee on him.

Thanks friend. Well, he’s not chasing me down as I turn and rush myself beelining it for the bathroom. No one tells you. So I make it to the, by this time my husband had put the luggage through. We make it to the front of the door and I am sitting in urine clothes for the duration of this, of the ride home.

Flight home. No one told me. 10 years and not one time did this topic come up. No one told, no one told me. It was the summer. [00:30:00] I’m sorry, it was the winter. Of 2020, Missoula had about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was arctic freezing cold outside. It was this like arctic shifting wind, um, the kind that hits your face and you were like immediately boogers frozen.

So I had taken my daughter on a evening with mom, we do Wednesdays with mom at our house, and afterwards I needed to stop by WinCo to pick up… A few items before heading home. We had a brand new vehicle that we had just purchased. And my husband loves this thing. It’s now my car. It’s the family car. And as we’re walking out, I have a cart full of groceries.

Step and crunching in the snow. Niagara Falls come falling out of me with no warning. And I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem [00:31:00] is, but she is sure on board to help mom, whatever it is. Eyes big and sure, mom. Whatever I can do. So I continue walking and I turn just to look behind me for a moment and notice that dog trail in the snow that I had just left.

I have a few steps to the car and I’m thinking, how am I going to get out of this because I’m not getting in my brand new car with soaking wet pants. So I do, I think what you would do, I took my pants off in the middle of the parking lot in Wingo. And I turn to my daughter and I say, I need your coat, sweetheart.

She is refusing to give her coat up at this point because it’s arctic cold outside. And I said, no sis, I really need it. I so am so sorry for the two gentlemen that were walking past at that moment.

She hands me her coat. I stick it on the chair. I take my coat off and I cover myself and I drive home naked. [00:32:00] Ashamed. Embarrassed, and so proud of my 8 year old. So I call my husband, and I tell him I’ve had an accident. And I need his help. And I need him to meet me at the door with some pants. Well his immediate response is that we need to call 911.

I don’t disagree, there’s a problem. But it’s not the car that’s broken, it’s me.

So I explain to him the problem and he meets me at the door with pants. And the reason I’m up here today to share this story with you is after 10 years when no one told me, I’m here to tell you there’s something called fourth trimester. And it’s something your body needs as a woman after having a baby.

And so if you are pregnant, if you’ve just had a baby, if you know someone having a baby, please do your research and tell them about fourth trimester. Nobody told me, [00:33:00] so I’m here standing here. Love yourself. Love your babies. I’m here to tell you. Thank you.

[00:33:11] Marc Moss: Jolene O’Brien is a wife of one husband, mom of two daughters and two sons. And a teacher of hundreds of children. Jolene is a woman, a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and a close friend. She is an artist, a portrait photographer, and an incredibly creative writer. Closing out this episode of the podcast is Candace Haster.

Candace shares her story of deciding to have a baby and the process by which she did so with a kind sperm donor. Candace calls her story. Well, that’ll be interesting. Thanks for listening.

[00:33:46] Candace Haster: Hi. Um, so my story begins with the moon, but before that there was a storm. I was 33 years old. I was in [00:34:00] France with my mom. We were on a walk. She’s over there. Um, we were walking and it starts to rain. It’s a downpour. We’re soaking wet. There’s nowhere to seek shelter. We are just wet. And we are laughing.

And if you know my mom, and if you’ve heard her laugh, then you know that her laugh is the kind of laugh that makes you laugh too. Her big laugh. Her belly laugh. Sometimes she bends over while she’s laughing, and sometimes there’s snorts. Um, so we’re walking in the storm, trying to get out of it, running, laughing.

And as soon as the storm, or as quickly, I should say, as the storm comes in, it parts. And we’re hungry. So we find a restaurant, and we sit down to eat dinner. And there’s sourdough bread, and there’s an Aperol spritz, and there’s wine. And there’s this [00:35:00] salad. And my mom still talks about this salad to this day.

Perhaps it’s her favorite salad that she’s ever had. By far, it’s the most unusual that I’ve ever had. Picture with me, if you will, um, a bed of butter lettuce greens and asparagus and apples. But if you’re picturing this right now, I guarantee that you’re picturing it wrong. So… Imagine with me a green apple, a whole one, a round one.

It’s cored, a cylinder through the middle. It’s sliced thin, so what you have are donut shaped slices of apples. Three of them, arranged on the plate, on top of the butter lettuce. Through each apple is stuck, vertically, a spear of asparagus. But the asparagus isn’t green. No. This is the kind of asparagus that is grown under a pile of [00:36:00] hay.

To deprive it from light. This is white asparagus. Why? Personally, I prefer my asparagus to be green. So anyways, you can picture it now. White asparagus. Stuck through slices of apples with holes in them. Arranged on a plate. It’s a great salad. We finish dinner. There’s more wine. We decide to go on a walk.

The town that we’re in, in the Burgundy region of France, is surrounded by what are called ramparts. These are old stone walls meant to protect the town. Along some of the ramparts you can walk, and on some of the ramparts you can walk on top of them. They’re so wide. So we’re walking on top of these ramparts because we want to get a glimpse of the moon.

This is something that we’ve always done. We’ve always gone to go catch glimpses of the moon. We’re walking, it’s still cloudy, but the clouds part, and the moon shows itself. But it looks weird. [00:37:00] Why is the moon shaped like that? Why is it that color? It takes us a while to realize this, but what we’re witnessing is an unexpected eclipse.

And we laugh. It’s amazing. It’s magical. And in that moment, I know that this full moon is going to trigger my period. And in that moment, I also know that two weeks from now, I will ovulate. And in that moment, I also know that I’m ready to get pregnant, to have a kid. So, step back with me in time about 11 years prior.

I’m about 22 years old now. I’m walking in the north hills of Missoula, again, with my mom. The moon is out, but it’s the daytime. It’s a pastel moon. And we’re talking. We’re talking about all different things. We’re talking about the flowers that are growing. We’re talking about what’s for dinner that night.

We’re talking about my [00:38:00] partner at the time. And my mom says to me, Are you a lesbian? I don’t know. Well, are you gay? I don’t know. Well, what do you think I should call you? You can still call me Candace, Mom. We keep walking and a little bit later she says to me, Do you want to have children someday? Yeah, I do.

Well, that’ll be interesting. Indeed mom, that will be interesting. So come on back in time, actually forward in time again, to right when I get back from France. And, uh, I’d had previous conversations with a midwife and I’d also gone to the library and checked out so many books that talk about how to women can get pregnant.

And what all of the books tell me is that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be expensive. You’re [00:39:00] going to have to use interventions. And my midwife confirms, yeah, it’s going to be hard. You’re probably going to have to use interventions and it’s going to be expensive and insurance won’t cover anything.

Not that I had insurance anyway. But wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. I remember in middle school, those VHS tapes that we watched, those sex ed VHS tapes featuring Patricia F. Miller. She told us that we could, I could, in fact, get pregnant in a hot tub without even having sex. Do you remember those stories?

Some of you remember those stories. I know you do. So what gives? Um, so I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple, I want to try it in the most simple way possible. I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. [00:40:00] Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

But count it as practice, because what you’re going to need is a lot of practice. Okay. So previously, my partner and I had talked to our friend Seth, who had agreed to donate his sperm.

His partner Kenya was 100% on board. Kenya loves participating in weird shit. So… We make a plan. I give them this little plastic cup with an orange lid. Kenya helps Seth get his semen into the cup. She brings it to the house in her bra. It has to stay warm. And she knocks on the door. We have a secret knock.

Because there’s no need for chit chat in these moments. I open the door, Kenya hands over the semen. She [00:41:00] explains that during the process of getting the semen into the cup, there was a lot of laughter. Which I love. Um, she also said Seth is a little bit worried that it’s not enough. There’s not very much in there.

Like this much. Um, is it enough? I don’t know. I don’t have that much experience with semen at this point in my life. So, we go about the business. Put that up into me. Some of it slides out immediately. Scoop it back in. It’s okay. My midwife had previously told me that because I have a tilted uterus, which is not uncommon for women my size, that after the insemination, I should rest with my hips above my shoulders.

She suggested that I get down on all fours, but on my elbows. Rest that way. It’s not comfortable. She also told me how important it was to relax. I try [00:42:00] that. I try relaxing. And I decide that what I need to do is move my body because that’s what I am most comfortable doing. So we go backpacking. We get to this favorite spot.

Set up a tent, and these clouds roll in, and it’s a storm, it’s a full on thunderstorm. There’s thunder, there’s lightning, all of it, and in that moment, I feel this surge. It’s right here, right here, a little lightning bolt, and I know in that moment that I’m pregnant. Nobody believes me. You’re so weird, Candice.

Um, well 41 weeks and one day later. I’m in my kitchen. I’m making bread. My mom is there. Kenya’s there. I think they’re making dinner. The dough is sticky. I put flour on my hands. Knead the dough more, and I feel my contractions beginning. I hold that moment for myself for a while before I tell anyone. [00:43:00] Then at about three o’clock in the morning, my kiddo is born.

In my house. My mom and Kenya finished making the bread. And, a little bit later, a storm rolls in. There’s thunder, and there’s lightning, and the house smells like fresh made bread. Now, Things are a little bit different right now in my life. I have a different partner, and I have a little bit more experience with semen.

But, I still take time to look at the moon. And in fact, last night, my kiddo came to me right before bedtime and he said, Hey Ma, wanna step out on the stoop and take a glimpse at the moon? Hell yeah kiddo. Always.

[00:43:59] Marc Moss: Thank you. [00:44:00] Candace grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to and fell in love with Missoula in the 1990s. You can find her small scale ceramic and paper artwork tucked into nooks and crannies around town, in the woods, and possibly in your neighbor’s pocket. She has a parent, a Scorpio, an avid cyclist, and is way into tigers.

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme. Lost in Translation, the next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration by calling 406 203 4683.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or [00:45:00] you can get your tickets online at tellussomething. org. Join us next week.

[00:45:05] Charlene Brett: The thunder



and it’s echoing off all of these

walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all

we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain

instantly starts pouring.

[00:45:22] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going. And I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s going to be really, really dark. And boy, was I right.

[00:45:36] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing

that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:45:46] Marc Moss: Join us on the Tell Us Something podcast next week for the concluding stories from the Creative Pulse graduate program. The University of Montana event on the theme out of my show, the telesumming podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting [00:46:00] Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits.

You want a 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the Tell Us Something podcast. Learn more at FloatMSOA. com and thanks to the team at MissoulaEvents. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at MissoulaEvents. net. Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at CashForJunkersBand. com. To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit TellUsSomething. org.

Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme "Stone Soup". A dramatic river rescue, bullets confiscated at TSA, a middle-aged woman cookin up an incredible stew and a man, a porcupine, a jar of pickles, and a little birdie.

Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 1

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

This week on the podcast…

Tess Sneeringer: this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee.

Joyce Gibbs: He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job.

…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Lizzi Juda: Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

Brent Ruby: There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over

Marc Moss: We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Our first story comes to us from Tess Sneeringer. After her friend falls down a hill on a rock scree, Tess Sneeringer puts her training to work. She, along with several of her friends, paddle through the night to bring their injured friend to safety. Tess calls her story “All Aboard the River Ambulance ”. Thanks for listening.

Tess Sneeringer: So four of us were floating down the green river in Utah in two different canoes and they were tied together. And two of us were paddling. One of us was taking a power nap and the fourth person was managing some extreme pain with a substance that is now illegal in Montana. And it was two o’clock in the morning.

This trip had started earlier that day as the long awaited personal trip. After a grilling summer spent backpacking with teenagers in the woods and spirits were high when we launched earlier that day. And I remember when we pulled over for lunch on this beach, on the side of the river, I pulled up the canoe was sitting on the bow and was dipping crackers into hummus.

When I heard my friend Erica Yelp behind me and I look over and she’s about 20 yards downstream on the bank. And all I see is this cloud of sand stone dust. And she’s over there with our friend Christina. So I wander over, I guess what had happened is she had been climbing up this little bluff to get a picnic spot.

And this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee and of the four of us, three of us, our wilderness first responders. And the fourth is an EMT. So we kind of dove into our knee assessment situation.

But at some point she looked up at me and she goes test. I think my back is bleeding and she was wearing a white sun shirt. So we hadn’t seen any blood, but I lift up her shirt and sure enough, I see a five inch long centimeter wide, just gaping wound as if someone had cut her with a knife. And it was sure enough slowly bleeding down her back.

So I put her shirt down and it takes every ounce of me to tell her, yes, your back is bleeding. I’m going to get the first aid kit. I’ll be right back. And I tried so hard not to sprint to the canoe and instead use that time to calm my own nerves down, get the first aid kit, come back. By that point, we had her laying face down.

Everybody had seen the cut at this point and Jack, the other trip mate and Christina had made a plan to try to go get cell phone service. And they’d put me in charge of first aid. And there I am standing over her with my desert rat, sun dress and my big floppy hat. And now two blue nitrile gloves thinking.

Okay. It is time to put you back together. And as I said, it was, uh, it looked like someone cut her with a knife and granted, we never found. Like slicer, but the first aid was relatively simple. So we were still waiting for Jack and Christina to get back. When she asked me, she goes test, why is everybody freaking out?

And I was just like, without trying to make her freak out, even more explained like, Hey, your cut is big enough that we’re worried about infection and your knee is enough in enough pain that we can’t be here for five days, which was the plan. So we got to go. And the way that this river works is we’re on the green river paddling towards the confluence with the Colorado river and the green river is Flatwater and the Colorado river is whitewater.

So you can’t just paddle out. You schedule a motor boat to pick you up at the beach. That’s the intersection of the two rivers. And we had scheduled a boat for five days from then. It was about a 50 mile trip. That’s a really relaxed river trip, 10 miles a day, plenty of time for side hikes, relaxing. So we had scheduled it for five days from then, but as we were looking through our paperwork from our outfitter and the permits, we saw that they’d given us a schedule of all the other boats that were coming. While we were on our trip, there was two boats, one, which was ours five days from now and the only other one scheduled was the very next morning at 10 o’clock. So we had to cover about 45 miles by 10 o’clock in the morning. But if you remember those teenage trips, one of the ones that I led the most often involved a canoe trip, and to make our mileage on the last day, we had a routine of waking the kids up at three o’clock in the morning, putting them in boats, tying the boats together and paddling this flotilla of canoes down a very similar desert river.

So I knew, I knew it could be done and doing some quick rough math. I thought we had just enough hours if we paddled through the night. So Jack and Christina get back from their short-lived attempt to find cell phone service. I pitched this plan to them, suggest that we paddle until dinner time, pull over, eat food.

Can’t forget to eat food. paddles, pull over sleep for a couple hours and launch again around midnight and paddle until we hopefully get to the boat. And as we were paddling that evening, they said yes to the plan as we were paddling, you know, we were booking it. So everybody we passed could tell we are in a situation where our boats are tied together.

And we’re paddling with like 80% effort. And everyone we passed, as soon as they learned what our situation was, they had something to give us. Someone had extra Vicodin from an old wisdom to surgery. I’m not kidding. They gave us new first aid supplies to change her dressing. And an older gentleman even offered us his paddling chocolate, which was weed chocolate for, for his arthritis, which was very, very generous.

And so we paddled, we executed that plan, just how I lined it out. And we launched again at midnight, after a horrible anxiety written hour of sleep. And we made it about two hours until Jack who’s in the front of my canoe, turns around and he’s like, Tess, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m falling asleep.

I don’t know if we’re going to make it. And so we came up with new plan involving maps, , so that every 20 minutes, one of the three, paddler’s got to take a nap and cause we had tied the boat together, right? So there’s three paddlers. And we tried to make Erica as comfortable as we could. That’s a tall order when you have a bum knee, a huge gash in your back and it’s a metal boat, but we tried our best.

And when it was my turn to nap, I was out cold. I put my sleeping bag in my feet, I’d pull it over. Me and people had to shake me awake when it was my turn to paddle again. But we kept that rotation going all night long until finally the sun came up and we were tasked with figuring out where the heck we were, because all night I’d been trying to estimate like, how fast are we going?

How many hours have we been paddling? Continually trying to answer the question. Like, are we going to make it? And so when the sun came up, I had to use all that mental math to be like, okay, I think we’re about 15 miles away from the takeout and how the map works. River miles are labeled on the map. And in this case they were counting down to the confluence, but sure.

There’s a line on the map that says 15, but that doesn’t mean there’s like a steak on the side of the river that says 15. So instead it’s a topographical map and I’m having a lineup, natural features to what I’m seeing. And so, you know, I’d be like, okay, I think if we’re here, there should be two canyons on the right and a tributary on the left.

And then there’d be three canyons on the right. And I’m like, shit, I have no idea where we are. And I was probably trying to struggle with that for almost an hour, just constantly trying to line up reality to my map somewhere within the range of where I thought we were until finally we saw some folks breaking down a campsite and we knew that the campsites are kind of also labeled according to the river mile.

So if we knew what camp they were at, we would know how far away we were. So we shouted over and they shouted back that they are at camp four. So we weren’t 15 miles away. We are four miles away and we had plenty of hours to go. And at that moment we threw down our paddles. Erica shoots this like drugged out fist into the air.

We eat something. That’s not this stay on granola bar that we’ve been eating all night because at that point we knew we were going to make it. And sure enough, we pulled into the beach. There was a whole crowd waiting for their scheduled boat. But as soon as we. You know, they learned of our situation news spread fast.

And again, people had something for us. We got someone cooked bacon for us, the made coffee, someone set up a shade umbrella so that Erica could sit under the shade. It was like a super sunny beach. And there was even a surgeon there who had this beefy first aid kit and volunteered to clean out her wound again, which was super nauseating to watch.

But we got on the boat, we got her to the hospital. She ended up needing a lot of stitches and she had a torn ACL, which explains the knee pain. So after that moment, we split up to our respective fall seasonal gigs. But every time I think of this trip in many trips, since, you know, the reason I go on these trips often is to connect more intentionally with myself or the people I’m going with.

And explicitly not all the other people who are out there, the point is to get away. But in this situation, it was all those other people that made our evacuation safer, easier, smoother, and already I’ve been on another trip or I was approached in an evacuation for help. And I take great comfort knowing that that give and take will be a lifelong exchange among perfect strangers, as long as we continue to recreate in these wild places.

Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.

Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.

Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”

Thanks for listening.

Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.

And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.

I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.

And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?

And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.

Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.

He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.

My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.

And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.

I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.

Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.

And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.

And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.

He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.

And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.

If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,

She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?

And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Joyce.

Joyce Gibbs is a resilient, creative and adventurous woman who was raised in Missoula. After a brief stint in New York City and then in New Orleans, she bought a dilapidated railroad house on Missoula’s Northside and spent the next 15 years remodeling it and making it her own. Joyce loves being in nature on Montana’s abundant rivers, and hiking and hunting in the woods. When she is not busy building beautiful spaces with her tile installation at Joyce of Tile, you can find her riding her motorcycle, gardening, going for neighborhood walks with her husband of 12 years, Marc (that’s me!), and their kitten Ziggy.

In our next story, Lizzie Juda finds awakening after middle age in a story that she calls “Something’s Cookin’ in My Pot”. Thanks for listening.

Lizzi Juda: thank you all for being here to support us and to listen to our stories. So I’m going to take advantage of this stone soup, uh, theme and tell you a bit about my journey through life, using the kettle or the pot as a metaphor for my self, my. Yeah. So I was born in the Midwest in the early sixties, and my pot was filled with Twinkies and canned spinach and three siblings and TV reruns, and overly salted broth.

And at the age of eight, my dad died and my mom disappeared into her scotch bottle. And this left this pot of ours that we called family with a massive crack in it. And nobody was talking about this crack. Nobody was doing anything that I could tell that was trying to repair the damage that was being done.

And so eventually this kettle of ours crumbled around our feet and I being the sensitive, intuitive caretaker that I am. Desperately tried to gather up all the shattered pieces and the scattered ingredients. And desperately tried to make some kind of magic brew or healing stew that would save us and that we could survive on.

And obviously this was impossible and exhausting. So I eventually left and came upon at the age of 20, my former husband who, Ooh, damn, I wasn’t going to cry. My farmer husband, who was this cast, iron stainless steel, nutrient dense kind of man. And he was like solid and grounded and a Virgo. And he, um, he contained me and grounded me in a way I had never experienced before I even wrapped a gold ring around myself for security and belonging.

And. Gladly just dumped my leaky brothy, cracked, sad self into his kettle and merged all my ingredients with his ingredients. And we lived with this nutritious and delicious life for years and years. And we created two really amazing children and have this beautiful life together. And then around midlife, I would say this grumbling and rumbling started quaking in my core to the point where I could not ignore it anymore.

And I knew it was time for me to take my pot and see if I could cook something up on my own. I needed to like figure out how to delineate what was my ingredients and what was all of the ingredients that were scattered around me. So I had been cooking in this one kitchen, my entire adult life. And as I left, I brought with me like this teeny little Bunsen burner and the.

Uh, flimsy little empty kettle and wandered around for quite a while, dazed and disoriented. And there was another D word in there, days disoriented and devastated and,

hungry as shit. And then I met this fiery powerhouse of a woman here in Missoula. And as we were getting to know each other, I started telling her that I was living on my own for the first time in my adult life. And I was trying to figure out like, how do you do relationships, where you can say what you need and you can receive support and don’t get lost in the sauce.

And she said, you need to check out this camp that is in Southern Oregon. I didn’t totally know what she was talking about, but I could feel this flame under me growing in intensity. And I could feel like water starting to swirl around inside my kettle. Like. She told me that this camp network for new culture is a place where people explore intimacy and personal growth in radical honesty and transparency.

And I just knew at that moment that that was the next step in my evolution. So two weeks later, I’m in my car heading to Southern Oregon for the first time on a solo road trip, since college, two long, hot, exhilarating days of driving. Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

And I’m like, girl, you might’ve wanted to read the fine print because,

I knew no one at this camp. And I was saying to myself, Lizzie, this looks like some wild ass bull, yum that you may or may not want to put in your pot. So I stood around the edges and I. I’m a pretty open progressive earth mother, hippie chick kind of woman.

But I stood around the edges of this camp, like a wide-eyed coyote, checking out what the hell was going down. And I saw people picking up these handfuls of exotic herbs and spices and tossing them freely into their big old pots of stew. And then they were sharing their stew freely with all the other people.

And they were receiving this amazing stew back. And, they were nourished and they were fortified and they were, and I had, I was sitting there going, you know, I’ve like put like little sprinkles of salt in my bra and I wanted a taste of what these people were putting down. So, I have a minute left and I have like this much more of my story to tell you, so how am I going to shorten it?

Okay. So I’m going to tell you this part of it. So one day I went down to the river and I. I was hanging out with these people singing along the river and the harmonies were incredible and the sun was gorgeous and people are dipping in and out of the river laughing and telling stories and singing. And I got my courage up and I took a big breath and I stripped my clothes off and I got into the river and I could feel as I was standing there in front of people that I did not really know, I could feel this fear and this body shame and this sense of the cultural conditioning that I’ve carried around with me for my entire life.

Just start to

be carried down

by the waves of the river, down to the ocean. And I’ve been back to this camp many, many times, and I’ve learned to expand my ability to give and receive love. And I’ve learned how to. Merged deeply with people and then come back home to my own kitchen where I am cooking up this spicy organic Hardy, healthy, nutritious stew.

And I’m here to share it with everyone. And I know that I am being fed by this much bigger love that flows through all things. And it flows through you too.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lizzi.

Lizzi Juda has been a proud resident of the westside of Missoula for nearly 33 years. She is founder and co-director of Turning the Wheel Missoula and has over 25 years experience teaching improvisational movement-classes, expressive arts groups, and ceremonial rituals. She is passionate about providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, move and connect deeply with themselves and express their creative spark. She is an absolutely avid advocate for accordion and alliteration artistry and is a wanna be beat poet. She considers movement and touch her first languages and is finding her way with words.She identifies most with being a mojo sprinkling pixie

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Brent Ruby buys a jar of pickes for a gathering with friends. No one ever opens the jar of pickles, so he brings it home. The hitchhiker he picks up along the way, is very happy to learn about this magic pickle jar.”Paws, Claws, Pickles and a Little Birdie”

Thanks for listening.

Brent Ruby: I didn’t know the dress


so I have to start by saying, oh my Frick. I’m standing on the stage of the Wilma theater.

Did anyone see John Prine thing here?

Thank you.

Cause the rest of my life, I can say John Prine opened for me at the Wilma.

So a lot of people don’t like road trips and there’s a reason for that. And that’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay to admit it. Road trips force us to merge the things that are organized in our brains with the things that are unpredictable and the things that are practical and predictable get tangled with the unknown.

And that makes people uncomfortable. That’s okay. Some about 60 miles south of Dillon Montana on interstate 15, great stretch of


There’s two camps. When it comes to the philosophy of roadkill, the first camp is my wife and most of my coworkers are in this camp and that is drive by that shit. I’m kind of in the other camp, which is if it’s interesting, if it’s feasible, if it hasn’t been there awhile and I’m stopping.

So I pull around. Get out of my big truck and I’m standing in the sun standing over a dead porcupine and my scientific brain is calculating, huh? It’s about 11 o’clock in the morning. When did it die? How old is it? Cause porcupines can live to be like 15, 18 years old. So I kick at it a little bit, look around there’s no one coming, taking this guy.


I grab it.

But before I moved it, I realized, you know, dead things smell. And this didn’t smell that bad. I mean, bed bath and beyond is not like saying, oh my gosh, this has got to be our next candle scent, but it wasn’t that bad until I picked it up. And then the smell got into my mouth. No, no matter. I still took it, put it in the truck and I’m on my way down to park city, Utah, where I was going to meet some colleagues for a multi-day meeting down there.

So we get, I get down to park city porcupine in tow, uh, or. And I meet up with my colleagues. And the first thing we do is go to the grocery store. And one of my colleagues says, okay, we need to just like hodgepodge potluck stuff for dinner, so get whatever you want. And we’ll put it together tonight. So I walk around the grocery store, still kind of smelling that porcupine.

And all I came up with was some shitty Utah, 3.2% alcohol grocery store beer, and an enormous jar of dill pickles. That was my contribution. But I did tell my colleagues, I don’t think we should eat the porcupine. So we ended up going to our condo, Airbnb, whatever, and, uh, having our meetings for the next few days.

Well, I, when we got there, I put the porcupine right in the freezer and the pickles. I put the pickles right on the counter. And for the next three, four days, nobody touched either of them. So the pickles just sat on the counter and I thought, well, okay, whatever, when it comes time for me to go, we’d separate.

And I’m like, I’m taking my stuff. So I grabbed my giant jar pickles. I mean, it’s, it’s that big, it’s big grabbed my giant jar of pickles and realized, oh, the porcupine can’t leave that in Airbnb freezer, probably penalties. But I thought I’ve sort of. Ben with that thing. It’s not fully salvageable. So I run next door to some fancy mountain bikers because it’s sparked city.

And I say, guys, I need an ax. Oh yeah, here you go. It’s a nice, it’s a pretty nice ax. And so I run back to the garage for wax and I had my four paws ditch, the rest of the porcupine and the garbage salvaged the paws and went into the kitchen and wash the ax off real good with soap and water and went back to the guys and said, thank you so much for the acts.

What do you need it for? Porcupine salvage. No big deal. So anyways, I load up my stuff. I load up my paws, my claws, and my pickles into my truck. And I’m heading north on interstate 15 and I’m about 60 miles south of Dylan. Again, it is just after a thunderstorm that kind of after a thunderstorm where the sun is so bright on the pavement and the rain is just evaporating off of that pavement.

So you can just feel it and see it leave the earth that rain, that same rain was thick on the Sage. In those Prairie’s so thick that, that Sage. With sneaking its way into the cab of the pickup truck. And it was awesome. I wish I had my sunglasses, but they were packed away with my paws and my claws.

That’s when I saw her. That’s when I saw her. And that’s when I saw her thumb. There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over, backed up. I get out of my truck, right.

Then she swings this big old backpack off of her shoulders. And I look at her and her shirt was stained with earth and strain and pain. And I said, oh my gosh, what can I, can I help you? You need help. And she says, if you could give me a ride to Lima, I would love it. I’m like, yeah, get in. I’ll grab your pack.

So she gets in the truck, I grabbed her pack. I’m like, whoa, damn. I said, girl only picked up one porcupine. How many gotten this backpack? Threw it in the back of my truck, got in the truck. And when I got in the truck, when both doors closed, there was the smell of human. Sweat


a bit of wet dog. It was so bad that I wished I had the porcupine in the backseat of the truck and she sticks her dirty handout and says, I’m birdie. Thanks so much for helping me. And she says, I don’t think I smell very good. And I said, no shit. And I said, Bernie, what are you doing? And I said, how can I help you?

And she says, I’ve been food lists for two days. I got chased by a grizzly bear, lightening storm, bad rain. And then I saw your truck and it was my hope to get out of this mess. And so I rambled up to the highway to get on, to get my thumb up in the air. And I said, I’m so happy to help you. I’ve got food. I, what can you, what can I do?

And she goes, I just got to get to the grocery store in Lima or Lima. And I said, well, what’s, what’s what’s tomorrow. What’s your plan? And she says, tomorrow, I’m coming right back here. I’m jumping back on the continental divide trail. I got to finish this thing. She was hunting it. So hiking it so solo. So I said, well, I can get you the Lima, but uh, I don’t know how you’re gonna resupply.

And she goes, I need to get to a grocery store. I said, birdie, there is no grocery store in Lima. And she said, I got silent. I said, I have all the food you need. I got plenty of food. And she goes, it’s not that the tears rolled down her dirty face and carved what looked like Topo lines from a map down her dirty cheeks.

And she said, food is not what I need. I have a ridiculous craving and have for the last two days

for pickles,

you’re taking up my time at that moment, whatever was playing on the radio, went silent. All of the angels from all of the people in Beaverhead county that had ever been hungry, tired, or perished on the Prairie, locked their wings in position. As I fumbled to reach over the seat to grab my giant ass bottle of pickles, I struggle over and get it onto the, onto the console.

And Birdie’s eyes were as big as the lid on that jar of pickles. And the tears came back following that same matter. Just ending up in a giant smile. At the end of her face, I pulled into Lima, we got out of the truck standing in the gravel and she insisted that we have a toast. She let me pick the first pickle out of the jar, which was good because her hands were filthy.

So we had a pickle toast in the Lima parking lot in the gravel. And I, we shared hugs, smiles, little tears, and I jumped back in the truck and started to drive away. And I caught birdie in the back rear view mirror of my truck. She was clutching that big ass jar of pickles and just kind of dragging her backpack along as dead weight.

And I queued up the John Prine. So what is the plan? What indeed is the plan? A little dirty birdie told me that there is no plan. All we have to do is add our own special ingredients.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Brent.

Brent Ruby is a research professor at the University of Montana and has been on a near 30-year quest to do good science. He also is committed to writing his own brand of ornery poetry during his relentless study of applied human physiology. One of Brent’s research goals is to effectively share his research findings to improve the health and performance of wildland firefighters. Brent spends time outside of his research in the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Jo and their border collies, Wrango and Banjo. Brent also enjoys building hollow wood stand up paddle boards, woodwork, art and writing children’s books. Check out his books, download free coloring book pages and more at wrangoandbanjo.com.That’s W-R-A-N-G-O-A-N-D-B-A-N-J-O.COM

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share. I’ll bet you do! And I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!” The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. Why not participate? Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the “Stone Soup” live storytelling event.

Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.

Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.

Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.

Marc Moss: Tune in for those stories on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit tellussomething.org