08 June 2013

Green Reflective, Missoula, Montana

“Don't be ashamed to weep; 'tis right to grieve.
Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water.
But there must be sunlight also.
A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
Brian Jacques, Taggerung

07 June 2013

Fragrant Self, Missoula, Montana

"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came...."
- from As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins  
(Read the full poem here.)

06 June 2013

Symbolic Red, Missoula, Montana

“Welcome, Space Wanderer,” blatted Rumfoord’s oleomargarine tenor from the Gabriel horns on the wall. “How meet it is that you should come to us on the bright red pumper of a volunteer fire department. I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine. Tell me, Space Wanderer, do you see anything here—anything that makes you think you may have been here before?”
- from “The Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut

On a non-sci-fi note, our local firefighters are true heroes for whom I need to give more thanks when I pass the station, and offer prayers when I hear their sirens.

05 June 2013

Mobile Art Installation, Livingston, Montana

Big thank you to Amanda Neufeld, today's guest blogger, for the photo and thoughts (and for being my first gorgeous niece!) Check out Amanda's manicure graffiti or send a question to her at

In graffiti tags, there is a language hidden in vibrant colours and cryptic characters, a message for a community. They say, "This is where I belong, see my name and recognize my skill, I deserve to be known."

Even without decrypting the code, a tag can be read. It says there is a passion for self expression in members of every community. No formal training is required to have an eye for form, colour and personal style. It says that vision and drive are in the heart of the unexpected artist.

How splendid are the sides of trains! Impromptu galleries that travel across the country, expanding their collections along the way.

04 June 2013

Graduation Day, Corvallis, Montana

The sun and sky conspired to present this bucolic Bitterroot Valley view as a perfect addition to graduation day celebrations.

Aaaah, graduation day - a day on which we enter the gymnasium full of hope and optimism, sincerely believing - that we will pick out our friends and family amidst the sea of thousands of faces. We quickly gave up to instead embrace realism and enjoy the event for what it really is: a prime venue for people watching.
Spiffed up young men, still noisy boys despite the shined shoes and ties. Burly dads carrying florist bouquets and wiping their eyes, unashamed. Young ladies sporting dress-up fashions that would have been right at home at my ‘80s-era graduation ceremony. Casually clad young parents with adorable toddlers in tow - little girls in Sunday-best dresses and bows, or young boys in miniature ties and vests.
I got to thinking that each person has a different back-story of why this event is important enough for them to dress up and make the time to attend. For many, like our family this year, it’s as simple as love and support for dear ones celebrating a milestone. But, given the national high school drop-out statistics, some might be celebrating a first graduate in their family. All in all, it was interesting to be surrounded by the best kind of proud, loving people, air horns and lengthy slide shows notwithstanding.

03 June 2013

Maple Blossom, Missoula, Montana

Maple syrup, maple bars, green wing nuts to stick on your nose for rhinocerous impersonations, summer shade, swishy sidewalk drifts of autumn leaves, Canadian symbolism, fall wing nuts helicoptering to ground… so many things to love about maple trees. (I’m sure you can add to this list.)

My husband has long appreciated the beauty of standard maples. When our neighbor offered a free sapling - well, “free” actually equated to digging it up out of their yard - he considered the sweat equity a good trade off. So we’ll have fabulous shade in about 15 more years - before I even reach official retirement age!
 But the long-term rewards will be worth it - as long as we can help it survive the neighborhood cats penchant for using it as a scratching post.

02 June 2013

Group Therapy, Missoula, Montana

Group Therapy: Consideration of a grouping of living, greening things to induce calm and reminders of the good and amazing things in this life.

(It’s a good thing to do when your days are busy-busy --busy - say, with multiple graduation ceremonies and festivities - and the weekend will be over before you can blink!)