30 November 2012

Wood and Wire, Missoula, Montana

Ranching friends remarked last week that they just finished replacing a corral fence that their dad built 25 years ago with help from my husband. Our farm fences always sported loops of jaunty blue and white baling twine on varied posts as a handy repair medium - so you could avoid replacing any segment for as long as possible.
Barbed wire fencing brings to mind cross-country treks with my siblings to pick wild strawberries in the next pasture, or to go sledding on the big hill at Grandpa's farm. It was always nice to have someone hold the wire strands apart as you hunched through to the other side, especially if you were cocooned in a snow suit. But no matter how careful we were, someone invariably snagged the fabric on their backside or pant leg. My mother definitely knew what she was doing when she insisted we change into play clothes as soon as we got home from school.

29 November 2012

Alien Blooms, Missoula, Montana

A lovely work perk of my current job is the delivery of a fresh bouquet of flowers every Monday. (While I realize that they're not for me, per se, they are in my principal work area and I do spend the most time in their lovely presence, so just let me pretend, already.) The arrangements are always fabulous and often feature unique flowers, like this one picture above. As a side benefit, when annoying callers waste our time, the blooms are a demure reminder of the attractiveness of a peaceful mind. (Okay, Jane Austen is now leaving the building.)

28 November 2012

Christmas Decor, Missoula, Montana

My 5:00 drive home in the dark is cheered by an increasing array of Christmas lights. Interestingly, my bah-humbug toward early Christmas music does not apply to the visuals of the season. Bring on the garland, the lights, the shining stars! One roadside business lit their frontage trees with a moving cascade of lights that are dangerously mesmerizing; I have to pay extra attention to my driving in that block.
Attachment to Chrismas decor harks back to when I was small and would scootch behind our luscious fake Christmas tree into a me-sized corner formed by the wall and the large wooden stereo turntable cabinet.  I'd hunker in there for what seemed like hours, happily listening to the weekend sounds of my family bustling about the house. It's amazing what you learn when no one knows you're listening. Eventually, of course, someone would realize I wasn't dusting, and I'd hear the first strains of, "Where's Cinderelly?". That was my cue to carefully ease unobserved back into the room, preserving my hidey place for future reconnaissance, and commence dusting as if I'd never stopped.  But, after a few false starts, my prince did eventually come and sweep me away to a life of love and happily twittering songbirds.

27 November 2012

Keeping Watch, Corvallis, Montana

Gracefully aged barns are not necessarily common in the Bitterroot Valley, but there are quite a few fines ones still in use on family farms. The way this barn is perched on a slight rise overlooking the pasture makes me wonder at some numbers: how many seasons of hay has it stored? How many litters of kittens sheltered in its stalls? Has it lost track of the number of hawks observed hunting small prey in the field below? I often wonder at the stories old houses have to tell, but I think the tales a barn could share might be earthier, warmer, versions of beginnings and endings, small joys and sorrows.

26 November 2012

Cheer With A Vengeance, Missoula, Montana

With no prerequisite for snowfall in the valley, The Dreaded Deluge has begun - rather, is in full swing. Before the turkey was even cold enough to qualify as leftovers, radio stations and shopping malls and department stores commenced with the playing of Christmas music. It's not that I have a problem with Christmas in truth, but seriously, a whole month is too long to be subjected to jingle bells and cheery fa-la-la-la-las.
Da-da-DAH! To the rescue: a new breed of Christmas music that blends smooth sarcasm with tight harmonies. Click here to experience the full audio and visual force of the latest offering from our good friend Chip Whitson and Bob Wire and friends that skillfully play a jug. There's more bah-humbug offered at their site
(In case she views this post, a big thanks for today's title to my not-so-red-headed stepchild, whose personal cheer slogan was too apt to not rip off.)

25 November 2012

Small But Loud, Missoula, Montana

Tromping through a field requires watching your step, unless you don't care if you track home, ummm, unsavoury particles on your boots. After successfully avoiding multiple gucky clumps and piles of bones and fur, my wintry trek was arrested by this bright arrangement of pebbles and moss. Driving home, a snatch of song on the radio made me think of a Bible verse that says the rocks will holler out praise to their Creator if we who have a more available voice do not speak up.
I've heard this passage used to pound hearers into feeling inferior if they're not enacting the pounder's interpretation of this verse. Pounding tends to annoy me. But truth is truth, and if we look at it for what it is, we can see past misrepresentation. The promise is that the sincere seeker will find. These little pebbles, bursting with vibrancy, are already declaring their Crafter's delight in detail and unique beauty, simply by virtue of their existence, being what they were made to be, doing what they were made to do. Sometimes we garner unwarranted anxiety by forgetting that shining our light may not look exactly the same as in the next person.