RENEW

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At last the world around us is renewing itself.  I saw these on Sunday when out for a walk, and got back there with my camera today.  Its pretty breezy here, so have to be picky about time to get photos like these – the wind keeps things from standing still for me.

We probably have snow still to come before it is full summer, but as things are coming alive, I know it won’t last long, and we’ll soon have some blossoms and colors to add.  As it is, we woke up each of the last four mornings to the sounds of song birds, which is a beautiful thing to enjoy!

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Categories: Photography | Leave a comment

DOWN-SPOUT RANDOM

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These photos are from a month ago when I went out on a bitterly cold winter morning – deep into the single digits that day.  I was visiting a spot I’d seen the week before while going about my regular errands.  But as I was driving down main street Bozeman I saw this down spout on the porch of a small law office.  So after considering whether I could get close to it without violating any boundaries I went back and took some photos – I never stepped onto the porch and stayed in the parking lot/sidewalk transition area, so I was pretty safe.

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I would love to have one of these copper down spouts on my back porch – they are beautiful whether ice encrusted or dripping with water during a rain storm, and even when dry in the summer with the patina of winter wear.

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Last night when we came home we found one of our little hens hiding under a tree wounded.  So she’s spent the day in the downstairs bathtub.  Seems to be surviving, and hopefully we’ll be able to doctor her through this.  We were all surprised at how it impacted us emotionally to see her hurt.  We think a bird like hawk got to her.

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J is recovering from his concussion well, which is good for all of us – no more worry.

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These photos are a full month old, and we’re starting to see some melting here.  It has been a long winter, and folks around here are ready for spring.  But still most mornings we’re met with some fresh crusty ice on the walk ways or a little bit of snow. Usually by afternoon the new snow and the ice have melted and the ground under, while mostly brown, is starting to have blades of green grass.  No leaves on the trees yet, but the buds are swelling and we can be hopeful.

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Much of my family is coming in two weeks, and we are so excited!  Looking forward to sharing time and meals with them, lovin’ on little babies, exploring a few places and just hanging out together.  It has been a long time since so many of us were able to get together.

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To keep from going insane with this winter, I planted some cilantro and basil plants, and the little devils are growing very well.  So well, I’m afraid they are wanting to be planted in the ground when the ground is still 6 weeks from being ready for them.

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I found some carrot seeds that can be planted even though we aren’t done with frost.  My goal is to get them in the ground by the second weekend in April and every couple of weeks after that until the end of May.  It won’t be frost-free, but the package doesn’t require that in the directions, so I’m willing to risk my $1.70 investment with this plan.

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Don’t know if anyone still reads this blog since I ignored it for so much of the past couple of months.  Hoping to get back into the habit of posting more often, but still need a week or so to get some projects under my belt.

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Categories: Daily life, J, Photography, Spring, Winter | Leave a comment

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I’m practicing working with a new off camera flash set up – thank you to Josh and Kathy for the great mentorship that has me trying this out!  And guess who got to be my models this weekend. 

Isn’t Sophie so beautiful(above)!

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This is Miss Arnika who was her typical curious self about the umbrella with the light behind it.  She certainly wasn’t going to sit and passively let me get photos.

 

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sm-8220And this is Mr. Arrison, so super cool and satisfied with himself – little did he know when we took this photo that he’d be getting his man parts clipped in just 48 hours.  But as with all the guys in our household, he is just super handsome!

sm-8248And then we have sweet Mr. Tank, who is looking so grown up and responsible these days.  He’s even trustworthy with the chickens (who, by the way, did not make the cut for the photo shoot).  When Tank is out in the area of the chickens he doesn’t see them as supper, but he sure is interested in the scraps we give them – he has supper envy!

Next time I’ll share how I applied the experience these loving loyal pets gave me to a real live human being.

 

Categories: Arnika, Arrison, dog, kittens, Light, Photography, Sophie, Tank | Leave a comment

SPRING?

This week on two peas the word prompt for photos is “Spring.”  Now, I can’t complain about that word prompt because . . . well, I’m the source of it.  I picked that word because the calendar says spring started a week ago. 

Now, I associate spring with lilacs.  Fresh, delicate, beautiful, soft colors, smells good.  Yep, that would be spring in my mind, with brilliant green grass all around, blue skies and birds singing.

Only problem is that here in Montana lilacs don’t usually bloom until late May, and at my house in particular, sometimes not until June.

Right now, the lilac bushes look like this:

IMG_8189_0770smProbably not what you thought of as a spring scene.  But the calendar says it is spring, and this photo was taken this morning.

IMG_8190_0771smAh, we will just have to wait for the traditional version of spring.  Until then, I’ll enjoy blog hopping around the internet seeing what so many others are putting up as spring in their yards.

Categories: flowers, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, Spring | 1 Comment

WHEW! WE’RE STILL HERE

sm-7162Actually, probably better to say “We’re back.”

Took a four-day trip to the Coast - well to the Portland area, which is very close to the coast when thought of relative to where we are when home.  The purpose of this trip was to attend a karate seminar and tournament for J.

The seminar was with George Kataka, a two-time world champion at sparring in the karate school of martial arts.  He was amazing working with the kids, and super fun to watch.

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It was a great trip:  visited with a nephew who goes to college in the area; visited with a college friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in over a decade; and visited with a college friend of Andy’s we hadn’t seen in about 8 years.  The weather was beautiful, no rain.  And the meals were really good!  All went very well!

Except of course for the concussion that J picked up at the end of the tournament.  Now, over a week later, he’s just about back to normal, and hasn’t complained about a headache all day.  We learned a lot about concussion and how to manage life while recovering from one.  Some surprises in that, but generally, just don’t do anything – no physical or cognitive activity.  Makes for some long boring days!bw-sm-7225

Now we are doing all the catch up at school and looking forward to clearance from the doctor for J to get back to physical activity, including karate.

Because, you see, prior to getting concussed, J qualified for the national tournament in July, and he has work to do to prepare!

 

Categories: Family Fun, J, Learning, Photography, Travel, Vacation | 1 Comment

A REVISIT

No fresh photos today because it was zero degrees yet again this morning, and we are under a winter storm warning.  Flat grey skies with white landscapes are not thrilling me at this point, so I’m not taking many photos.

IMG_9842_2324bwsmHere is a black and white photo from last spring – don’t think I ever posted it here.  Andy has it on his screen saver and I see it daily at the office.  Always surprises me that I actually took and processed the photo.  The rim on the leaves in the background is what gets me about this conversion – I think that is pretty neat, although I don’t feel very humble for thinking that.

No fresh photos today because it was zero degrees yet again this morning, and we are under a winter storm warning.  Flat grey skies with white landscapes are not thrilling me at this point, so I’m not taking many photos.

Categories: Photography | 2 Comments

LAST OF THE ROAD TRIP – WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS TO TOSTON

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Despite the fact that White Sulphur Springs had the worst breakfast in the world – all I can described is powdered eggs over cooked and grape jelly as the only option on toast – we stuck around for a little exploring before heading West.  This deer was following his friends through the fresh snow, and we thought he was a bit friendly.

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Once we hit the road it was ranch land everywhere.  We were headed into the Big Belt mountains, but there was some flat land along the way.

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Once in awhile we’d catch some color besides white brown and blue (see below) but really it was a very simple, uncomplicated looking landscape – and beautiful too!

IMG_5945smAfter we crossed the Big Belts we dropped into Townsend and then followed the Missouri River into Toston – practically a ghost town, but not quite one yet.  The bridge over the Missouri into Toston is an old one, and this is the spot where Tank fell into the Missouri last winter.

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The water moves pretty fast, and there are ice islands floating throughout.  But what really caught my attention was that it appeared that the structures under the water were actually covered with ice.  Don’t have a photo to share of that, but it did amaze me – the idea of ice under water just doesn’t seem quite right.  It looked like moss covering the rocks, only it was greenish white and smooth like ice.

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As soon as I saw Toston from across the river I knew I’d be outside of the car and Andy would be waiting awhile.  It was just building after building of decay and disrepair – all of the type that makes for some of the most interesting photos in my book.  But the funny thing was that half the buildings showed evidence of still being occupied – smoke coming from the ceiling, dogs tied in the yard, that type of stuff.  To honor the privacy of those folks, I tried not to point my lens directly at them.  But my heart was heavy to think that someone was in those structures when the temps were in the lower single digits because they just didn’t look weather worthy.

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This one is right on the “main drag” which is a dirt road running parallel to the railroad tracks, which in turn run parallel to the Missouri.

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A side view of that same building (couldn’t take the other side, which had like an old porch on the second floor, because it appeared occupied).

IMG_5988smThis little window in a small building next to the previous one, mystified me.  It looks so old and so abandon, but how do those curtains, fully exposed to the elements, retain their colors?  Is it recently abandon?  Where the colors once even brighter?  Did someone try to create privacy in there more recently than the rest of the decline in the building?  There is a story in there somewhere, but not one that I will ever know.

IMG_5996smNow doesn’t this look like it was once a real nice place?  Trees in the yard, still standing straight, right on that main drag I described earlier – beautiful views of the river by the way.  Another story I just won’t know.

IMG_6001smA cute little starter home for someone, once upon a time.

IMG_6002smI imagine this was some old single guys place, maybe an old crusty miner or something.

IMG_6005smThis beauty is actually right on the Missouri (across the road and the railroad tracks from the others.  Looks like it once ws very stately.  Probably not that long ago either – notice the light fixture on the pole on the left side, and the cross-hatch lattice boards along the foundation.  So sad that it is now in such disrepair.  Wonder if it flooded and that is why it was abandon – you can see there river there behind the shrubs on the right side.

The we left Toston and headed towards home. 

IMG_6028smthose horses aren’t real – sculptures.  The sign calls them Bleu Horses (http://www.bleuhorses.com/) and they are by Jim Dolan who I think resides in our own Gallatin Valley.  You can click on the link to see one up close.  Unfortunately, I think last month one or more of them were stolen, but recovered.  Wish I could have hiked up there to get a closer look, but at that point Andy was just ready to get home, and I didn’t have good hiking-through-drifted-snow boots with me.

And that was our trip.  There are lots more photos that might show up someday, but these past few posts just give you a taste of the travel part of it.

Categories: Art, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, River, snow, Travel, Vacation, Winter | Leave a comment

MORE FROM THE ROAD TRIP – super image heavy

IMG_5793As we traveled along these rural roads traffic was not a problem.  The most commonly seen vehicles were the snow plows, which were out in force to tackle the constant drifting snow – did I mention in a previous post that it was windy?  Well, it was.

IMG_5795While we appreciated the plowing, it was also frightening because those guys were “haulin’” and they left a cloud of snow/dirt/whatever that was hard to see through when they passed.

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It was almost funny.  But we did appreciate the roads being cleared of drifts.

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All that haze in the photo below?  Blowing snow.  It made the landscape look like something from one of the early Star Wars movies – cold, windy and stark, with odd buildings sticking up from the ground from time to time.

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Amazingly, all these counties have pretty interesting court houses – as opposed to the one in Gallatin County, one of the most populated counties in the state, and our functioning court-house is in an old 1960′s style school building – ugly.  But these little towns of less than 3000 people have stately looking court buildings.  So ironic!

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This particular court-house is in Stanford Montana, population  769, the proud county seat for Judith Basin County.IMG_5862

This building is also in Stanford, next to two other similar buildings.  Small town with lots of grain is all I can figure.

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All these little towns were built along the railroad.  IN reading the history of some of them, the town was built where the railroad was supposed to come, but when the railroad changed the route the folks just picked up and moved the town site because it was no good not being where there was railroad.  That was a lot of power and influence in those private companies – which sort of explains a lot of the stories of corruption that you hear from days gone by.

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Somebody used to live here, but not any more.

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We ended our second day of driving by going through the Little Belt Mountains – quite a change in topography!  Andy had always heard the skiing was good at Showdown, even though it is just a little resort.  From what we got to see in the late afternoon, it would make for some great skiing, and they had plenty of snow!

IMG_5892After stopping at Showdown we headed down the mountain and into White Sulphur Springs where we had the worst hotel and the worst service at a restaurant, followed by the worst breakfast out we could ever imagine.  Nothing against White Sulphur Springs or anything, it was just not great accommodations we found.  We will go back, but we won’t stay in the same place and we’ll eat elsewhere as well – an hour and a half wait for a hamburger wasn’t the romantic dinner out we had in mind.

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Categories: Barns, Daily life, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, Rural Thursdays, snow, Travel, Winter | 1 Comment

ROAD TRIP DAY TWO – LEWISTOWN TO DENTON photo heavy!

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For this trip I only had my 50mm lens – J had my other lens.  That created a unique challenge, and for some spaces it mean I could not fit everything in because I couldn’t back up far enough.  I’m not complaining, just explaining.

We started our morning in Lewistown with a walk before we got into the car for a full day of driving.  It was cold (about 2 degrees) so we ducked into any buildings we could.  We found these windows in an old Presbyterian church (http://1stpreslewistown.org/) that from the outside looked really run down.  You couldn’t even tell there were stained glass windows from the outside as they were covered with some opaque looking material that seemed more like boarded up windows than anything. 

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We also went into some galleries, but no photos from those of course.  Then we got on our way.  As we turned west on a small highway we passed this old sign collection telling the mileage to certain family’s ranches.  I’d never seen a sign like this before (below) and thought it was pretty cool!

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It was on and off snowing with grey grey skies all morning.  Lots of farm structures along the way, which was what we expected of this drive.

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This red barn was like a flash of color on an otherwise grey landscape – photo take out the window of the moving car, so not the greatest, but you get the idea.

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The erie light (or lack there of) really made these trees look like . . . I don’t know, alien creatures ready to reach out and grab those who pass too close.

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This truck was about the only traffic we saw for many miles – can you see he’s making that little Montana Finger off the Wheel wave?  Yep, that is a sign of real friendliness in these parts.  That funny line is the crack in our windshield.

IMG_5756The rest of these photos are from the town of Denton, our lunch destination this day and a favorite town for Andy.  He had been there before during upland game hunting season and knew just where he wanted to eat – I think there is only one café there, so there wasn’t a lot of choice.  The sun did start to burn through the dark cloud cover as we were eating lunch.

IMG_5763The railroad goes through Denton and these buildings are pretty much the center of business activity in the town.

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And there was another one of those signs – smaller, but more readable!

IMG_5774After lunch as we were leaving town we saw these colorful storage buildings.  They celebrate 100 years of the local high school which covers two towns and is still so small it has to join together with two other schools to field a basketball or 6-man football team (they take turns hosting the home games at their school).

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Tomorrow, Denton to White Sulfur Springs – aren’t you thrilled!

Categories: Photography | 1 Comment

ROAD TRIP

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Last weekend Andy and I took a road trip together.  J was at Expedition Yellowstone and we had a few days to ourselves.  All the photos posted tonight are from the first evening of our trip.  Some were taken from the moving vehicle with the window rolled down, others through the windshield, and still others we actually stopped along the side of the road and I got out.  Bet you can tell which are which.

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As beautiful as the country we saw is, what was most impressive to me was that Andy and I were doing this trip at all.  It is the first time in 14 years that we went on a trip without J that was for pure pleasure. 

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Sure, we’ve been to two church retreats, and to L.A. to get his hip surgery, but to just go for the fun of it and for the fun of being together?  That hasn’t happened since J was born.

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We spent most of this trip in the car.  First, it was intended to be a car trip exploring part of Montana that I had not been to before.  We went from the Gallatin Valley to Lewistown to Denton to Stanford, down the Little Belt Mountains (past Showdown) to White Sulphur Springs, over to Townsend and back to the Gallatin Valley.  I don’t know how many miles that was – should probably calculate, but too lazy to do it tonight.

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The other reason we spent most of the time in the car was because it was COLD!  Like we never saw anything above 8 degrees the entire drive, and often it was hovering around 2, with winds blowing like crazy.  Those heated seats in our car were very welcome, believe me.

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Besides, time in the car is time to talk, and we did do that.  And believe it or not, very little of what we talked about was work related or stressful.  Just chatting about observations and general thoughts.  That’s what we often did when we were dating, so it was familiar territory for us, and good.

IMG_5690-2We stayed that first night in Lewistown, and this is the court-house that was just down the road from our hotel.  It was a nice hotel and I would recommend it to anyone – affordable, personality, history, clean, and nice staff.

I’ll post the photos from Saturday and Sunday later this week.

Categories: Andy, Daily life, Family Fun, J, Montana, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Travel, Winter | 2 Comments

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