08 March 2014

Optimism, Missoula, Montana

“Sorry, old girl," I said to [the bicycle] Gladys in the gray dishwater light of early morning, "but I have to leave you at home."

I could see that she was disappointed, even though she managed to put on a brave face.

"I need you to stay here as a decoy," I whispered. "When they see you leaning against the greenhouse, they'll think I'm still in bed."

Gladys brightened considerably at the thought of a conspiracy. [...]

At the corner of the garden, I turned, and mouthed the words, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," and Gladys signaled that she wouldn't.

I was off like a shot.”

- Alan Bradley, A Red Herring Without Mustard

07 March 2014

Rail Décor, Livingston, Montana

In Montana’s early days, the state’s movers and shakers built key structures to not only be impressive but to last for the long haul. Old rail depots, county courthouses, and downtown mercantiles across the state still stand with enduring dignity and impressive architecture intact, regardless of their current function. Marble, sandstone, brick, and prime-grade timber paid off as a long-term materials investment. Indeed, they don't make 'em like they used to.

06 March 2014

Riverbend, Yellowstone River, Livingston, Montana

With temps now in the 40s F, Montana is now officially on the melt. All that snow will have to go someplace; good thing there are a few rivers in the region
If this keeps up, we just might have spring on schedule!

05 March 2014

SnowBall, Livingston, Montana

By Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first it wet the bed.

Given the warming trend in Livingston, Montana, my guess is this kickball will be bald (of its snow toupee) and sitting in a slushy puddle by early afternoon. Which might be, ummm, awkward for a human, but not for a kickball.

04 March 2014

Indoor Recess, Livingston, Montana

Monday was another snow day for many schools in Western Montana.
But, take heart! Spring is only - technically - 15 days away

(For those of you in temperate climes who may be unfamiliar with the terms “snow day” or “indoor recess”, these refer, respectively, to school closure (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!) and keeping students inside, due to the amount of snow or unsafe conditions caused by snow.)

03 March 2014

Winter Dusk, Sealy Lake, Montana

Winter Dusk
by Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

I watch the great clear twilight
Veiling the ice-bowed trees;
Their branches tinkle faintly
With crystal melodies.

The larches bend their silver
Over the hush of snow;
One star is lighted in the west,
Two in the zenith glow.

For a moment I have forgotten
Wars and women who mourn —
I think of the mother who bore me
And thank her that I was born.

02 March 2014

Sacred Heart, Livingston, Montana

Livingston’s Congregational Church boasts some interesting and beautifully rendered windows. Several center panels bear the signature “Charles”; his art works hand in hand with the pastor's words, provoking souls to pause and ponder.

Fortunately for me - and for you! -, the motif pictured is dear to Amanda Neufeld, the first of my lovely nieces, who graces today's post in the following guest-blog.  Enjoy.

Hearts, crosses, and anchors. Images often seen in ink faded from black to green on time-worn skin. Among pinup girls and tributes to mothers, or on the distended forearms of a spinach crazed sailor man (toot toot), these symbols so ubiquitous that one can easily forget what it is they symbolize. Seen here, however, backlit by a snowy Sunday morning, some of their sacredness seems restored. 

A Sacred Heart glows with a flame that seems gentle and inviting, a fire that burns with Holy love, that refines what it touches. Why?  "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). As a people, we are raw, unable to purify ourselves, and, thankfully, not required to. The Cross, seen so often that it can be overlooked. So simple a symbol, and yet, "the intersecting lines mark a center, from which a radiance or life itself flows outward. The cross of Christ, like the tree of life, became the center of the world." 
And the anchor. I love the anchor. The catacombs of the early church are illustrated with images of anchors that predate the use of the cross to symbolize Christianity. It can't just be a coincidence, the similarity of the Greek word for anchor, "ankura," and the Greek phrase en kurio ("in the Lord"). "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19)

I think I might need to add an anchor to my tattoos, not carrying on a nautical tradition, or in homage to everyone's favourite squinting sailor. A reminder of the generations who used secret symbols to share their faith, who spoke without speaking of the Lord they loved and in Whom they lived. Or I could spend more time admiring stained glass windows.