small-0422 My gratitude book/list is almost full – don’t worry, I’m already shopping for the next volume.  Giving thanks is such a meaningful and productive part of my life, I don’t think I’ll ever stop.  So, here is where I am this week:

3716.  Unexpected afternoon off with J.

3717.  Seeing ice climbers up on the ice falls in Hyalite Canyon – inspiring and encouraging.

3718.  Super nice ice climber who returned J’s dropped wallet at some significant effort.

3719.  Encouraging developments around photography business. 

3720.  Working with nice people at MCS fundraiser dinner.



3721.  J finding connections with classmates getting easier.

3722.  Quick check-in with Holly

3723.  Getting lots of photos processed

3724.  Inspiration for some photo projects.

3725.  Good discussion at Bible Study

3726.  Americana chicken laid a blue egg after two months off for molting – a beautiful blue egg!

small-04343727.  Ann Voskamp on the importance of Jesus’ family tree

3728.  Arrison sleeping at my feet.

3729.  Good mango for breakfast two days in a row!


3730.  Warmer weather – supposed to be 40 degrees today!

3731.  Needed reschedule granted

3732.  Andy’s kindness/generous heart for J and I

3733.  Good friends all around!

3734.  No wreck when swerving to avoid sudden obstacle in the road – and J impressed with my crisis driving.

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Blessings, chickens, Daily life, Faith, Fall, gratitude, Montana, Montana weather, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Thankful to God | 1 Comment


small-0269  As expected, woke up to snow this morning and temps in the single digits.  Poor baby chickens aren’t going to know what hit them!  Should be even colder tomorrow.


Not that it would be all that interesting to you, but this morning did inspire me to replace my missing marmot hat.  I loved that hat.  I searched for it for days to no avail.  So a trip to REI brought a new favorite into my life.  If I get the nerve maybe I’ll do a selfie and show you the new acquisition later this week.


I was able to get these photos just barely.  Literally there was only about 20 minutes of break through sunshine.  I noticed it developing as I was coming down the high way from the bus stop for J, and I wished I had my camera with me to pull over and capture the magic.  But I didn’t, so prayed for it to last long enough to get home, run into the house, grab the camera and head out to the back (south) end of our property to capture the rays playing off the neighbor’s out buildings.

You know it is going to be a good day when such an adventure actually works out!


This last photo was taken from a few feet off my back deck, and just caught the tail end of the light.  A few minutes later the sky was socked in again and little wispy flakes were falling.  But it was beautiful while it lasted!

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Blessings, chickens, Daily life, Fall, Light, Montana, Montana weather, My Backyard, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Weather, Winter | 1 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.


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


Somebody used to live here, but not any more.


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.


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

GRATITUDE – Tuesday February 11

Sometimes it feels like our lives are a wreck buried in the deep winter snow.  We don’t have it all together as a family.untitled-9328And that’s a fact! 

The laundry is flung on the guest room bed left unfolded for weeks at a time.  The mountain grows three feet high and we pick our way through looking for what we need each morning.

After we get those wrinkled and crumpled clothes on our shivering bodies, we only have to walk around the house and the white dog hair from Tank jumps onto our  finery like moths to a flame.

And now we are beautifully attired and ready to face a world that wonders just what goes on in our house.


The barn door came off its rails but it is open only 4 – 5 inches.   None of us can squeeze in to get the needed old client files so safely tucked away in boxes under the silver tarp in the beautiful barn loft.   Might wait  until spring to get that door re-hung, because the snow blown up against it has hardened under the weight of more drifting snow and the ice formed by a warm day causing some melting only to be met with days like today where it is -31 when we get up, and every drop of moisture outside is solid!  That door is shut for some time to come.

We howl at the hurts of years ago come back to haunt us.  And we tire from the effort of battling demons old and new.

We  struggle on, alternating optimism for victory  with the sinking feelings that utter defeat is only moments away.

We are a mess.

untitled-9334Yet each day we look around and there are the gifts from God – the little and big ones custom designed to care for us, encourage us, provide for us and allow us to feel loved.

Even in our messy broken, crumpled, defeated state, we know we are loved by a God who is there with us every moment of every day.  Here is the proof:2665.  Healthy baby for Daniel and Stacy

2666.  Drive time with Andy

2667.  short but fun drive with Andy to look at a crime scene

2668.  Arrison curling up next to me on the couch – he’s getting cuddly after all.

2669.  Home before full dark – a rare event in the winter.

2670.  Time with Shawna talking and taking photos

2671.  Completing a large volunteer project

2672.  sharing something I really like and getting good feedback and affirmation.

2673.  leftovers for dinner making an easy evening.

untitled-93362674.  Talking with Daniel about the birth of his new daughter

2675.  J able to express his feelings

2676.  J wanting/seeking out time with wise adults to process traumatic events

2677.  J feeling affirmed by his teachers in a challenging social situation.

2678.  Andy and I unified in helping J through a tough situation

2679.  Access to an important resource on short notice

2680.  Evening at home with Marissa joining us for social time.

2681.  Tank sleeping with Andy on the couch

2682.  Sophie, Arnika and Arrison sleeping on the foot of our bed

2683.  DK’s gangly body playing basketball so very well.

2684.  J’s insight into people

2685.  Solid legal advise for someone important at the death of a loved one

2686.  R & J’s good care for Liz

2687.  Connecting with Sarah W. over aging in-law issues

2688.  The kindness of “strangers” at MCS events

2689.  J standing firm for what he believes is the right way to handle a troubled student’s harassment

2690.  A new-to-us bigger BBQ – free hand-me-down

2691.  Beautiful spring-like day with sunshine

2692. Chickens laying eggs consistently.

2693.  Able to watch a missed episode of Downton Abbey for free on PBS website

2694.  clean sheets on our bed

2695.  Arnika cuddled in the dish towel drawer.

2696.  Half a day spent taking photos

2697.  Bill helping Andy move the stove

2698.  Helen seeing good things in J

2699.  Time with LP

2700.  Beautiful clear colors of the world in the late afternoon sunlight

2701.  EKL thinks to send me photos of Liana

2702.  Chance to chat with AA

2703.  God is a God of order and the world works well because of it.

2704.  Time with Roberta walking and talking

2705.  Ability to purchase needed medications

2707.  Plan for CR

2708.  Getting an update from Holly – being included

2709.  Stumbling on a good preacher on the internet

2710.  An agreed upon plan to deal with J’s disrespectful tone.

2711.  Return of an item went smoothly

2712.  Feeling “heard” when expressing myself to Andy about a concern

2713.  Articles/information to help make a plan for dealing with a bully situation.

2714.  All photos recovered from blown hard drive – like 30,000 of them!

2715.  Walking and talking with Denise

2716.  Bully not allowed on class trip – easier for all the students

2717.  sharing Peach Raspberry Cobbler with Andy

2718.  Safe travels for a lot of driving

2719.  Sense of humor over poor food and poor service when eating out on weekend trip – all the meals!

2720.  Shooting photos at Ironglass Lighting

2721.  A morning with Hannah and Camille and a camera

2722.  heat source installed by Andy just before a big freeze hit

2723.  Seeing beautiful black and white photography in Lewistown Art Center

2724.  Wolf feeding on a dead elk 200 yards from our home.

2725.   Forgiveness for all the times I forget to be thankful

2726.  Watching J process his own photos – learning and excelling at lightroom

2727.  J’s photos from Expedition Yellowstone

2728.  Expedition Yellowstone was a good experience for J.

2729.  J saying thank you to his teachers without being prompted to

2730.  Friendly call from Denise asking how our trip was

2731.  A fast walk by myself


Categories: Barns, Daily life, dog, Faith, gratitude, Outdoors, Photography, Rust, Tank, Thankful to God, the house, Winter | 2 Comments


IMG_0117mI got up early on Saturday (before the sunrise or moon set) and went looking for some of that glowing yellow.  A nice way to start a fall day – the rest of which was spent cleaning house and cooking for the boys!

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy photos from that adventure while reading all the blessings I’ve observed over the last couple of weeks.  By the way, it is constantly clear to me that these blessings I observe are really only a small fraction of the blessings God bestows on me each and every day.  Oh how easy it is for me to take for granted!   But these are a start.

IMG_0130sm2369.  Little bird huddling from the snow and wind right at my window

2370.  A drum lesson accomplished

2371.  Watching PBS shows as a family

2372.  Meeting with E and seeing her progress.

2373.  Early October snow.

2374.  Warm pajamas and new slippers

2375.  Friends praying for me so powerfully.IMG_0142sm

2376.  J’s joy at the snow

2377.  J spending the night at a classmate’s house

2378.  Snow lasting several days

2379.  Ice on the sunflowers is beautiful.

2380.  Extra time to get wedding photos processedIMG_0153m





2386.  Having fun over dinner with 6 twenty-somethings

2387.  Andy getting through a BIG hearing calmly

2388.  Watching Tank and Sophie sniff each other lovingly.

2389.  J being sound in his social functioning

2390.  Pine nuts from Daddy.IMG_0186sm

2391.  Taking photos of the worship team – weaving in and out as they play and sing at their practice time.

2392.  Sophie’s attachment to J

2393.  Arrison and Arnica – watching them grow.

2394.  Being with Sophie when she gave birth.

2395.  Good talks with Andy based on Brene Brown book and interactions with a wise consultant.IMG_0205sm

2396.  Our house being called someone’s Home away from home.

2397.  Lunch with Kirsten

2398.  Support from Roberta re: diet and exercise issues.

2399.  Holding Sophie’s kittens.

2400.  J’s excitement over getting a phone.IMG_0219sm

2401.  J doing well at serving to the Life Recovery dinner

2402.  sun light through yellow cottonwoods over the creek.

2403.  Washing dishes with Eva and Emily L.

2404.  J sleeping well.

 2405.  Fun interactions with court clerks when there to do normal business.IMG_0227sm

2406.  J making positive statements about himself.

2407.  J able to go back to school after short illness.

2408.  Getting photos processed before the deadline.

2409.  Andy and J had safe hunting trip.

2410.  Nobody injured in Riskovich house fire.IMG_0234sm

2411.  Walking with Roberta

2412.  Fun watching Arrison and Arnika begin to interact with each other.

2413.  Knowing business owners that we can support like Eagle Tire.

2414.  J showing signs of feeling better.

2415.  Free internet photography lessons that teach a great deal.IMG_0238sm

2416.  Payment for September’s billing coming in a timely manner.

2417.  J doing well in the mornings before school – consistently cheerful and timely.

2418.  School was on J’s gratitude list – that is huge!

2419. Chocolate covered pretzels.

2420.  More bison meat in the freezer than I remembered.IMG_0240sm

2421.  J including younger guy in on some of his plans to make the little guy feel included.

2422.  Chicken coop progress.

IMG_0244smAnd just for the heck of it, here is a photo of my greeting from Tank when I got back from shooting these photos – yes, he carries around a giant board bringing it to me to impress me with how much he loves me since he’s willing to let me see his stick.  That’s a lot of stick love!

IMG_0256smAnd here are the kittens – growing so fast – they’ll be two weeks old tomorrow, and we finally got them moved into the house where they are safer and warmer.

IMG_0298smThe one with the dark paw is Arrison (I suspect a boy, but am not sure) and the other is Arnika, (I suspect a girl, but again, not sure).  Arnika has much lighter paws than Arrison, but both are cute, and otherwise they are close to identical.

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Daily life, Faith, Fall, gratitude, kittens, Outdoors, Photography, Tank, Thankful to God | 4 Comments


IMG_9806_7310smWhat do you think?  Is this fall enough for you?  For Montana, this is pretty fall – all those yellows are about the extent of color that we get.  This was out driveway this morning when I brought Leo home from the vet – just a blood sugar check up, nothing to worry about.

IMG_9795_7299smThese two are doing well.  Sleeping lots.  To be expected at less than 48 hours old.  But they already seem to have grown so much!

IMG_9793_7297smThis one makes me feel like I should have named them Ying and Yang.  So funny.  The lighter colored one I’m calling Arnica – also happens to be the smaller one although this photo doesn’t really show it.  The darker one is Arrison.  I think Arnica might be a girl and Arrison a boy, but that is based on nothing but size, which probably isn’t all that reliable at this point. 

IMG_9799_7303smI find myself fearful that they will die because . . .  well because Sophie’s other kitten/s did and we weren’t here to know why.  So I check on them a lot.  I’m not sure this is all that healthy on my part – I’ll be working on this.  This morning Sophie went outside (something we’ve been trying to prevent) and I went into a panic about if she would come back to care for them.  Sure enough, she did.  Still, I’m working hard to keep her in because it keeps my stress down.

Stress or not, they sure are cute!

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Daily life, Fall, kittens, Leo, Photography, Sophie | 1 Comment


In my gratitude list yesterday was a reference to being a family who goes out at night to take photos of the harvesters.  Well, these are the photos.  IMG_9621_6902sm

The story behind the adventure is that we see the big equipment working on the fields to the East and South of us frequently – two harvests a year, plus planting.  It is usually done at night, and what we see are lights floating around in the pitch blackness.  It looks a bit like aliens, and we always make a joke of it.

So, this past Saturday night Andy saw them and asked if we could try to get photos.  It was dark, and I had a moment of “I can’t take photos in the dark” but then thought it was worth going out and seeing what would happen – after all, I have a tripod, know how to set my camera wide wide wide open, and the lights on the machinery are pretty bright.


Little did I know that as the four machines went round and round we would be able to see the blue barn from time to time.

My settings for these photos were f1.8 ss 3.2 ISO 1250 with my canon 60D and my canon 50mm lens.  Not perfect my any stretch of the imagination, but so much different from what I thought.

Best part of all of it was that we had a great time as a family for those 20 minutes of time after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

Categories: Autumn, Barns, Daily life, Fall, Family Fun, Outdoors, Photography | 2 Comments



Before I start here, I want to express (perhaps “again” but it never seems to be enough) that the gratitude I feel is not some gratitude to the unknown or unidentified.  It is specific gratitude to God for the specific gifts He has given me. 

My life is full of His many many blessings, as the list proves.  But it is also hard at times – very hard.

These gifts are the reminder that God has put specific things in my life to be encouragement, sources of peace and joy, reminders of His love even through the hard stuff.  And He has placed them when and where He does with a purpose. 

So, as you read this list, whatever your beliefs about God, I just want it to be clear that these are gifts from God in my book, not a bragging list of what I’ve got and not everyone else does.  Nor is it an attempt to prove my worth by showing my blessings. 

It is a pure expression of gratitude for the intimate details that God works in my every day, every moment life.

Two nights ago there was a beautiful glow on the landscape in our yard.  Please note, I did not say “landscaping”, I said “landscape.”  As these photos will establish, we do not have much in the way of planned and organized landscaping – it is “au natural” for our home, and really that is fine with us.

Anyway, the light was such that I was inspired to take photos.  So out I went.  These photos decorating this list of blessings are the result.


So, here are portions of the list, which grew greatly on vacation:

1883.  Lots of blooming trees this year.

1887.  The fun of making plans for a day in San Francisco

1890.  Dramatic clouds and reflective light in the sky.

1895-6.  Andy taking a new last-minute case without panic (totally out of his comfort zone) and his calendar suddenly clearing to make that a possibility.

1901.  Birds playing “tag” on a split rail fence when I was walking by.

1907.  The power of our Bible study group praying for each other.


1909.  Dinner with good friends and new friends

1911.  Seeds in the ground in time to be well watered by a steady rain

1913.  Good dental appointment – no cavities or other problems

1918.  Being able to rent a car without an official credit card

1921.  Dim Sum in China Town – feeding 5 for $35 with lots of leftovers and it was delicious!

1923.  Easy parking the whole time we were in San Francisco


1925.  Beauty at the sea-shore despite all the development

1929.  Andy’s joy at seeing beach where he used to scuba dive with friends

1934.  Other people’s small (tiny) bathrooms bringing a renewed appreciation for the fact that our home has big bathrooms – just didn’t realized how blessed we were in this way without seeing that it is not universal.

1935.  California smells:  Oak, oleander in bloom; eucalyptus; manzanita, sea-shore


1944.  J’s appreciation of details in photographs displayed at DeSassiet museum (Santa Clara University campus)

1947.  Being able to talk to Daniel and Eva while on vacation.

1949.  Pine nuts from daddy to bring home and enhance our cooking

1952.  Redwood trees and Big Sur river


1953.  Safety while visiting the fissures – didn’t lose any young children over the edge!

1955.  My cousin’s three-year-old-son’s way of narrating his life – so cute!

1957.  Touching El Capitan n Yosemite

1959.  Sarg’s vigorous state at age 89

1966.  Kids playing with big phone airplane

1971.  Fresh fruit

1974.  Water balloon launcher and six children

1979.  Access to old family photos – especially seeing photos of my mom when she was young


1982.  Colorful boardwalk in Santa Cruz

1985.  Finding MIL’s grandfather’s grave after many years – and exploring the area while we were at it.

1992.  Learning about ducks as egg producers

1995.  Janet’s roses

1996.  Smell of white poppies at the Peardale house

1998.  J’s interest in rasing chickens and ducks


1999.  Grandpa’s willingness to struggle with the effect of PD – joining in on eating out, picnic in the park, little bits of a walk.

2000.  Andy’s willingness to do what it took to go on family vacation.

2003.  Photos of J with his grandparents

2010.  Fog coming over the Berkeley Hills

2011.  Smooth sailing through TSA at SFO

2015.  J’s constant drumming and rhythm expressions

2018.  J dealing with his own bag issues (independence) at the airport


2019.  Andy praying for our day starting us out on the right foot and bringing about a good day in the midst of a busy schedule

2025.  Burning enough calories in a day to promote weight loss

2030.  Enjoying music on The Voice together as a family

2032.  J’s smile while in his first class back at karate after several months off


2031.  Tank’s joyful relationship with water and all things wet.

2034.  Liking the results of incorporating the tripod in more of my photography

2037.  Fun comments on my blog from people who I enjoy on-line.

2038.  J’s exhaustion means he was very active the day before.

2040.  Open/transparent discussion in Bible study.


2041.  J doing his chores well unsupervised

2045.  Watching the little twitches in Tana’s (cat) face as she stalks a moth

2046.  Ideas for improving our work situations.

2047.  Lupine in bloom along the road where I walk and run

2048.  Friend Holly giving encouraging words and bringing up relevant points that strike at my heart


2049.  Mangos at Costco (just the right level of ripeness at the right price).

2050.  Surprises around the house from the Hawley’s time there

2051.  Although Sophie’s kittens were still-born, she is healthy and recovering well.

2052.  Leo successfully stayed with Aunt Nettie while we were away.

2053.  Green everywhere on our home landscape.


2054.  Flowers are beautiful even when they grow among the weeds

2055.  Rose bush that grows through the deck cracks and makes a unique decoration

2056.  Big clouds over still snow-capped mountains seen from our property.

2057.  Raspberries for a snack


2058.  Seeds that have sprouted – carrots, pumpkin, peas, lettuce and beans to come

2059.  Ideas to improve our yard

2060.  Connecting with people after being away for 10 days

2061.  Running 3 miles relatively easy after too long of a break


2062.  Friends for J to connect with

2063.  Bright colored shirt that used to be too small fitting and matching my fun skirt so I can feel good about what I wear without having to purchase anything.

2064.  Job/money-making opportunities for J as he begins to save for trip to Washington D.C.

2065.  Getting parenting inspiration from watching some of the things that other parents do well.


2066.  Plans, ideas and dreams for the future to sort through, analyze and make decisions about, but ability to not have to rush.

2067.  Even when being in relationship is hard and chaffing, continuing the relationship is possible and desirable.

2068.  The hard parts are never unaccompanied by grace and gifts

Categories: Barns, Daily life, Faith, flowers, gratitude, Outdoors, Photography, Rural Thursdays, Thankful to God, This and That Thursdays | 3 Comments



Monday evening


Tuesday morning.


Tuesday Morning (crab-apple tree).


Tuesday morning (apple tree).


This morning from the road looking at our house.

Categories: Barns, Daily life, flowers, Outdoors, Photography, Spring, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments

HAPPY SATURDAY! a photo bomb!


It was 7 degrees at 8 a.m. this morning and the ground was covered with fresh snow – happy spring.  As I looked out the window I was pining for last Saturday, when we were getting glimpses of green grass and being outside involved a sweatshirt or vest, not gloves, hat and a parka.  Oh well.

As you can see above, when I was out enjoying the beautiful weather a week ago Andy photo-bombed my barn photo.


So, I bombed him right back by changing my subject for a few minutes:


Notice his new glasses!


Then, Tank decided to bomb Andy:


But for those of you who worry, here is proof that Tank is faster than Andy can ride that little bike:


All safe and sound.

Hope you are having a great first weekend of spring – just think, next weekend: Easter!  I think the only green grass we will have is the plastic kind I line J’s basket with.

Categories: Andy, Barns, Daily life, Family Fun, Outdoors, Photography, Spring, Tank | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at