31 December 2013

Leaded - Is There Any Other Kind?, Corvallis, Montana

Today’s pic is dedicated to that redoubtable leaded coffee drinker, Tom Nash (aka The Best Husband Ever).
Thanks for making sure there's always morning coffee, sweetie.

(For a guaranteed Tom Nash sighting, stop in tonight at The Sunrise; he's playing with the other boys in country band 406.)

Plenty of downtown Missoula, MT, coffee shops will be open late to host First Night performers and attendees. What else besides good strong coffee is needed to keep you up ‘til midnight and welcome in the New Year? 

Happy 2014!

30 December 2013

Frozen Greens, Alberton, Montana

Unlike the sustained snow-fort seasons of my childhood, winter in western Montana can bring a crazy juxtaposition of freeze and mild, which sometimes creates amazing mini-tableaus for the persistent croucher. This is aptly illustrated above by the tenacious sprout anchored in ice-trapped bubbles.

To “oooo” and “aaaaaaah!“ at a different variety of stunning frozen beauty, check out the
winter bubbles series captured recently by photographer Angela Kelly.
(Thanks, Mouse, for sharing this find!)

29 December 2013

Tots Mah Goats, Missoula, Montana

My initial thought for a post title was "All Is Calm...", but the Sprint commercial kept repeating and repeating and I failed to resist the infiltration.

"I think most of us are raised with preconceived notions of the choices we're supposed to make. We waste so much time making decisions based on someone else's idea of our happiness - what will make you a good citizen or a good wife or daughter or actress. 
Nobody says, 'Just be happy - go be a cobbler or go live with goats.' - Sandra Bullock

28 December 2013

Mouses Winter Walk, East Missoula, Montana

“...As he peeked ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”
E.B. White, “Stuart Little

If Stuart lived where there was more snow, do you think he would have a little vintage  snowmobile? Or a sled pulled by hardy crickets? ("Quit that infernal fiddling and MUSH, I say!")
Okay, not very realistic, I know. But I couldn't think of any creature smaller than a mouse that might actually be out and about in the snow, instead of wisely hibernating. Sigh. 

27 December 2013

Winter Grass, East Missoula, Montana

While brushing my teeth earlier this week, I mentally composed a short email to my sisters to share a highlight in my workday. And I suddenly missed my mum so very much.
(Let me just interject that to be on the verge of tears while brushing your teeth is awkward at a minimal level, and has the potential to be a very messy scenario - toothpaste foam was not designed to be inhaled OR to exit via the nasal passages. Thankfully, neither of these happened to me, but I hope you laughed a little just imagining that.)  
Back to topic: I count myself so fortunate to have had a mum who was not perfect but definitely loved us and hoped good things for us. She was always so proud of what we accomplished, but even more of the qualities of character and excellence she saw develop in us. While sisters are amazing cheerleaders, there still is nothing quite as confidence-building as having your mum in your corner, beaming with pride like only she can - and reminding you to give your best and keep your chin up and things will look better in the morning. Despite years to adjust (fat chance that), I miss her steadfast support. 

In our day-to-day busy-ness, we often forget that what holds true value is fleeting.
Take this day for what it is, and choose to enjoy, to embrace, to remember what is good, and pure, and gracious.

And if your mum is still alive on this earth, please call her or send a little note saying thank you. It may not matter for what - "thank you" is often enough on its own. 

26 December 2013

Lofty, East Missoula,Montana

Today is Boxing Day - which, admittedly, is not widely recognized in Montana, save by a nostalgic few transplants from across the northern border. (Sadly, laughter is a consistent response to my repeated suggestion that my office observe the 12/26 holiday to show solidarity with our sister Canadian companies.) Regardless, the lofty intent of the day is celebrated by the big-hearted many who BOX up Christmas bounty and cheer to share with others who need a reminder of the hope that is Christmas.
May our hearts and eyes be open year-round to act on the intent of this day.

25 December 2013

Christmas Star, Missoula, Montana

“For we have seen His star… and are come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

The original star was prob’ly shinier, but the reminder is the same: draw near, and let your life be changed.

Merry Christmas.

24 December 2013

Downtown Depot and Christmas Tree, Missoula, Montana,

February 2013, Petula Clark released a new album, which includes what the BBC interviewer termed a “haunting” new version of her ‘60s classic, “Downtown“. 

Listen here, and be inspired by this 80-something to never let age be a factor in holding you back.

23 December 2013

Pines Near and Far, East Missoula, Montana

Bears, birds, and squirrels eat them. And with a little effort, you can too - click here for some tasty forest foraging info. (Respectfully note the length of the bear’s claws at 1:09 on the video linked to “eat them“.)

21 December 2013

Hipster Scene, Alberton, Montana

Rose hips - not just a pretty berry, but chock full of Vitamin C for the taking - unless they're growing in along a public roadway, and then you prob'ly don't want to eat them because of pesticide and weed-kill overspray. But other than that, I've heard they make a delicious tea and are really good for you.

20 December 2013

Moss Green Carpet, Alberton, Montana

As I recollect it, the living room carpet of our childhood was the exact shade of the moss on the far bank of Fish Creek pictured here. This revolutionary short-shag carpet boasted a lovely texture that also got us a bonus carpet rake, required to maintain optimum lovely texture.
If you were born before, say, 1973, you won’t understand this.
But that’s not a bad thing.
You weren’t really missing anything, except the assigned chore of carpet raking that even a 5-year-old could do - and, yes, that 5-year-old was me. Thankfully, carpet raking didn’t make my “chores that I hate” list; that was pretty much a short list of one item: dusting. But, I’ve moved on; I’ve dealt with those issues; I‘m not bitter. Really.

19 December 2013

Downtown Lights, Missoula, Montana

"Downtown - where all the lights are bright...."
and it seems the moon has come to a lamp post resting place.

Pictured is a Christmastime evening view of the north end of downtown Missoula, Montana, including a snatch of the iconic red X Crossing sculpture and a smidgen of the old railroad depot.

17 December 2013

White-capped Ocean Sky, Missoula, Montana

“What had happened was an ocean sky, with whitecap clouds.” 
 - From The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, p. 389

Two gloriously huge chunks of my last Saturday were spent snuggled in on our sofay, consuming the entire volume of “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. Since it came highly recommended by a fabulous and discerning friend, I blocked out luxurious hours to avoid agonizing against the temptation to read late late late on a work night. The movie version was just released this November; if you’re still haven’t seen it, I highly recommend reading the book first. I don’t know about you, but I find that I rant less - (Why didn’t they include this? Well, I pictured that scene VERY differently? etc.) - if I read the book before, rather than after, seeing the movie version. Plus, the writing in this book is so beautiful - I plan to read Zusak’s other novels. Read more about the author here, and a movie info here.

16 December 2013

Melodic Riffles, West Fish Creek, Alberton, Montana

“We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems….”

-From by Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881)

(Note: Willy Wonka quotes the first line in "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl.)

15 December 2013

Meadow Tracks, Missoula, Montana

A snow-covered meadow issues an irresistible invitation to the adventurer, begging them to traipse on through and mark trails - whether by big winter boots, snowmobile, some other tire tread, sled, or what-have-you. 
As kids, we'd create pseudo tractor treadmarks in the snow by walking duck-footed, feet splayed, knees bent slightly, until we couldn't manage the formation consistently. I remember being very serious and careful about placing my feet - heel to opposite arch but not touching - actually thinking we might fool some grownup into thinking a (one-wheeled) tractor had driven across the snow-shrouded front lawn. But maybe that seriousness was really the gullible baby sister being played by an older sibling.... hmmmmmm.

14 December 2013

Icicled Eaves, Missoula, Montana

I remember a story - possibly a big sister’s bedtime story - about a mysterious winter stabbing murder. Neither murder weapon or murderer were ever found, and there were no clues to aid the investigation - just a small pool of water next to the body in the narrow side yard at the victim‘s home. Well, as you may have deduced by now, the clever solution to this morbid tale is that gradually warming temperatures caused a huge icicle to fall from the eaves - and subsequently impale the victim as they walked along the side of their house. The icicle then inconveniently melted.

I don’t think I slept very well on the heels of that nighttime tale. 

And I’m still very careful while navigating near icicled eaves.

13 December 2013

Moss Capture, Alberton, Montana

"Travel and society polish one, but a rolling stone gathers no moss, and a little moss is a good thing on a man." - John Burroughs (1837-1921)

Travel and society polish one, but a rolling stone gathers no moss, and a little moss is a good thing on a man.
Friday the 13th - Eek! - at least on this side of the International Date Line.
Not that I'm superstitious.
But it is a handy opportunity to raise one eyebrow, dredge up a deep, scary voice, and say, "MWAH HAH HAAAA!".
You could also try the effect on this sentence: "The ICE drops are TRAPPED in the clinging moss - MWAH HAH Haaaaaaa!"

12 December 2013

Transition, Alberton, Montana

Dropping down
To pool and glimmer
Catch the eye

This sometime resting place
Small wonder

- CH

11 December 2013

Festive, Missoula, Montana

14 days to go, and it‘s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, in all the best ways!

10 December 2013

Memory Rock, Blue Mountain, Missoula, Montana

"Geologists have a saying - Rocks remember."
- Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Maybe this Blue Mountain trail rock remembers the chatty-chatty walking sisters who paused to observe its lovely contours in the clear winter light of  a Thanksgiving weekend afternoon.  Good times.

09 December 2013

Berry Leftovers, Fish Creek, Alberton, Montana

Some people think leftovers are for the birds, but I heartily disagree. Well, except for the remaining berries pictured today, for which our twittering friends are probably exceedingly greatful this winter.
But in the human population, not everyone is so inclined.
I just don't understand this. In my family, leftovers are often more enjoyed than the original meal. Some things just taste better the next day. And the next day. And the next. Like the turkey soup I made from the Thanksgiving remains - turkey bones, fresh carrots and celery, a couple handfuls of brown rice, and a little bit of salt - simmer, and yum! Simple, and the perfect antidote to cold, cold weather. (Don't forget to take out the bones before eating.)
Here's hoping for a Christmas turkey carcass in my near future.

08 December 2013

Wind Chill Reprieve, Missoula, Montana

“Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.”
Robert Green Ingersoll

Besides getting impatient to use today’s quotation, I decided to post this summer flash-back as a reprieve from sunny daytime temps hovering close to either side of 0 degrees Fahrenheit - before any wind-chill factor. And
Missoula is not even the coldest pocket in Montana's mountains. I’m sure this is not what
Mr. Denver was talking about when he sang about a ‘Rocky Mountain High’.

07 December 2013

Crisp and Clear, Missoula, Montana

“As laser-bright moments; diamond-hard memories; crisp and clear. A future lived, a future savored, a future of moments so sharp and pointed that they would sometimes cut and sometimes glint so brightly it would hurt to contemplate them, but sometimes, too,
would be joyous, an absolute, pure, unalloyed joy, the kind of joy he hadn't felt much if at all lo these twenty-one years.”

Robert J. Sawyer, Flashforward

06 December 2013

Misted Trestle, West Fish Creek, Alberton, Montana

As we tramped amongst the rocks at Fish Creek, headgear damp with intermittent spits of the lowering mist, a freight train thundered across the shrouded trestle. 
Many would think this disruptive, perhaps even shaking a fist skyward whilst exclaiming, 'Curse you, disturbing creature of man!' 
But not me. 
Partly because we'd already happened upon a recently wolf-mauled deer carcass, which qualifies as at least a day's quota of disturbing. 
But mostly because I've loved trains from the summer I was 5-ish and siblings three rode for a couple hours in a passenger car to visit our grandparents in Red Deer, Alberta
The rails have charmed me ever since.
So I smiled toward the receding roar, and enjoyed a bonus to an already favourite-things-filled day.

05 December 2013

Coniferous, Missoula, Montana

A fragrant something to add to your mantel, stair banister, bowl of Christmas goodness, or what-have-you. Breathe deep - you’ll almost smell the pine needles and crisp air - and the oxygen boost never hurts.

If trees in your neighborhood look more like tumbleweeds, or are of the Charlie Brown variety, do not despair - Montana pine needles are available as beautiful baskets, hand-crafted in Missoula by Judy Arledge. See examples on-line at her site, or at 4 Ravens Gallery in downtown Missoula. Who knew pine needles could be so much more than mulch?

04 December 2013

Can't Fence The Big Sky, Missoula, Montana

Poem: We Live In A Big Sky by Jon Katz 
"Listen to my story, dear ones,
the world
is one big sky,
Where we are born, where we live.
Have you lost your wings?,
Forgotten how to fly?..."

(Click here to finish reading.)

03 December 2013

Wish Rock II, Alberton, Montana

Wish rocks - those having a ring completely around them - were a recurring delight over the weekend. 
Walking up Blue Mountain, my sister and I marveled at large ones - the size of all four of our feet together - in the roadway. 
And at Fish Creek, they were scattered all about the bared creek bed. 
See more of Fish Creek at my friend’s photo feed, True Element Images.

02 December 2013

Neither Rain Nor Sleet, W. Fish Creek, Alberton, Montana

Sunday was surprisingly rainy, thanks to an unexpected warm before the storms blow down from Canada. 

But a wee bit of precipitation didn’t keep my friend, J., and me from our photo outing to West Fish Creek, near Alberton, Montana. 

As my sainted mother would say, with a smile, “You’re not made of sugar, are you?”

01 December 2013

Countdown to Christmas, Missoula, Montana

Today the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest - 24 days left.

With little seeds of snow sprinkled about the foothills, we’ll hope the real thing sprouts to great white drifts just in time for the blessed day - but not much before. 
After all, there‘s commuting to be done, and driving skills decline remarkably with the each incremental layer of the cold white stuff.

30 November 2013

Happenstance Sky, Missoula, Montana

“Now some folks call it fickle fate
And some folks call it chance,

While others just accept it
As a pleasant

From “Not By Chance Nor Happenstance” by Helen Steiner Rice
(Read the full poem

The happenstance (it's fun to say, you must admit) of this photo was the shutter going off as I checked for dust - voila! - a shot I would not have had otherwise, and of one of my favourite subjects, to boot!

29 November 2013

Imagined Holiday Travel Conversations, Missoula, Montana

Imagined Holiday Travel Conversation From Our Featured Leaves: 

"Did you not hear me practically shouting, ‘Portage! Portage!’, before that last exit? 
Well, keep hanging onto that rock until we can safely catch the next eddy out of here. 
Maybe we'll still make it home in time for Downton Abbey."

Brief silence.

"Do we have any leftover pie?"

28 November 2013

Blue Mountain Sunset, Missoula, Montana

Pining for a sunset view? Montana is stocked up on this particular panacea, free for the taking. 

Combined with a little fresh air exercise, you have a prescription for most anything that ails.

For this - along with pumpkin pie and family and a multitude of other unmerited blessings - we are thankful.

27 November 2013

Mountain Shadows, Missoula, Montana

A fair percentage of Missoula’s winter forecast parses down to “Rain in the valley, snow in the hills“. 

Of course, technically, it’s still autumn until December 21st - small comfort, but it keeps me hopeful for a delay in the coldest weather and a white Christmas in the nick of time.

25 November 2013

Determined Optimism, Missoula, Montana

There’s a slim chance the next line in this story is,”You’re it!” - but realistically, the ant is probably determined toward a different goal. Poor gnat.

Catherine Marie Buchanan’s novel, The Painted Girls, the middle sister struggles with optimism for a different future. “For a tiny instant, I worried about wanting so much, about greediness, but Maman drained her bottle of absinthe, and hopelessness was the reason why.”

Hope is worth holding tight to, worth every single reminder to keep it alive in your heart, and worth dispensing without reservation.

23 November 2013

Lariat Jingle, Missoula, Montana

Perhaps you'll have better luck than I at finding a clever lariat quote or poem. Sigh.

22 November 2013

Tucked In, Missoula, Montana

With this morning’s temperature at 11 degrees F, it’s a good thing I tucked in the last of my fall bulbs on the weekend, when the low was still a balmy 30 degrees.

21 November 2013

Bridle Array, Missoula, Montana

"It excites me that no matter how much machinery replaces the horse, the work it can do is still measured in horsepower.....even in this space age. And although a riding horse often weighs half a ton, and a big drafter a full ton, either can be led about by a piece of string if he has been wisely trained. This to me is a constant source of wonder, and challenge."
- Marguerite Henry

(Thanks to NoBit Bridles for a ponder-inducing quote from one of my favourite childhood authors.)

20 November 2013

Caseophile Bliss, Corvallis, Montana

“I was one of those. 
I meddled with dark powers. I summoned demons. I ate the entire little cheese, including the rind.”  -  Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

“A silence fell at the mention of Gavard. They all looked at each other cautiously. As they were all rather short of breath by this time, it was the camembert they could smell. This cheese, with its gamy odour, had overpowered the milder smells of the marolles and the limbourg; its power was remarkable. Every now and then, however, a slight whiff, a flute-like note, came from the parmesan, while the bries came into play with their soft, musty smell, the gentle sound, so to speak, of a damp tambourine. The livarot launched into an overwhelming reprise, and the géromé kept up the symphony with a sustained high note.”

18 November 2013

Old-Timer, Missoula, Montana

There's somethin' 'bout old fences,
They've somehow earned their keep,
They'll be around from this day hence,
Ain't no need t' call 'em cheap.

They're alot like worn out cowboys,
The scars all tell a tale,
A young man once a ploughboy,
'Till his dreams one day took sail.

A fence can tell a story,
Of days, long since gone by,
A wanderin' cow chasin' her tail,
A cowboy wonderin' why.

That leanin'
fence post,
Sure has some grit,
Outstandin' most,
That seemed much more fit.

That post may be weathered,
And look pretty tough,
Worn where a horse teathered,
It's jagged and rough.

Cowboys is like fences,
Each one has its tales,
Scarred from old fences,
And weathered from the gales.

The point I'm tryin' t' make son,
That fence is worth the while,
It's earned the chance, t' make a stake,
On this ranch for a while.

It ain't about the money,
But that old fence 'il stay,
It sounds a little funny,
But you'll understand someday.

From “Old Fences and Old Cowboys” by
Slim Farnsworth
Read the entire poem here.

16 November 2013

Aspen Avenue, Missoula, Montana

"My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
  Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun..."   - Gerard Manley Hopkins, from "Binsey Poplars"    

15 November 2013

Planting Hope, Hamilton, Montana

Hot tip for any plant-loving procrastinators - er, rather, busy people putting the last minute to effective use: Lowe’s still has spring bulbs for sale. 
Even better: they’re ON sale at fifty percent off.

I bought six bags - after putting back three bags, thanks to a wee self-chat about realistic expectations.
I’m a little excited. 

Come Saturday - after coffee, of course- , you'll find me bundled up and tenderly placing papery-swathed bulbs of promise: grape hyacinths, alliums, daffodils, fragrant hyacinths, and tulips. 
These will stand out nicely amidst the foliage of the later-blooming lilies and fritillaria I tucked in last weekend. 

Only 124 days until spring!

14 November 2013

Aspen Gateway, Missoula, Montana,

All day and night, save winter, every weather,
Above the inn, the smithy and the shop,
The aspens at the cross-roads talk together
Of rain, until their last leaves fall from the top.

From "Aspens" by Edward Thomas
(read the full poem here)

13 November 2013

Catch Me, Missoula, Montana

Sometimes life throws us into a free fall, and an unexpected lift reminds us that grace and mercy still exist, and often touch our lives through the hands of strangers. 

If you are looking to help with aid to the Philippines, one of my co-workers launched a collection drive this past weekend. Click here to see the progress of  the "Big Sky Big Heart" relief project, and here to view more relief news from Child United,  the larger organization that’s facilitating the delivery of collected items to the Philippines.

12 November 2013

Warm, Missoula, Montana

“A coat? I don’t need a coat - it’s at least 40 degrees (F) outside!”

Spoken by a true Montana outdoorsman, in spite of today’s Brooks Brothers shirt and corporate neck tie.

11 November 2013

Selah, Missoula, Montana

Selah (pause, and think calmly of this)

Selah is an appropriate word for this day, set aside as Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day, or Armistice Day, depending on the country.

Pause and think calmly of the benefits of freedom that we should hold so dear.

Pause and think calmly of the thankfulness we cradle in our hearts for people who gave so much, so generations to come would not have to live under fear.

Pause and think calmly on the many still longing to savour liberty’s goodness, and pray.

10 November 2013

Higher, St. Helena's Cathedral, Helena, Montana

The Cathedral Builders 
by John Ormond

They climbed on sketchy ladders towards God,
with winch and pulley hoisted hewn rock into heaven,
inhabited the sky with hammers,
defied gravity,
deified stone,
took up God's house to meet him,
and came down to their suppers
and small beer...

(Read the entire poem and view historical photos here.)