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)!



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.



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

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




The loss of Leo had a big impact on all of us, including out other animals.  But it is nice to see that all species can come together and enjoy each other.  This is Andy (back) Tank (middle) and Arrison (front) sleeping on the couch in front of the fire.  I think Tank was a little unsure about having Arrison curl up with him at first, but he got used to it quickly.

Categories: Andy, Daily life, dog, Family Fun, kittens, Photography, Tank, Winter | Leave a comment


And it’s not going to get delightful any time soon.  We’re expecting highs in the 0 – 10 range tomorrow, and by Wednesday through the weekend there is a chance the highs will be 0 or below.  Makes the idea of outdoor photos a little daunting for now.  In the mean time, here are a few of the kittens who have grown so much the past few weeks.IMG_1605.smThis is Arrison.  I know it is him because his paws are darker than Arnica’s.  He’s up on the dining room chair in this photo which was taken by J.

IMG_1641smHere they both are confirming that it won’t be long before they are each larger than their mother.  This is at 8 weeks.  Sophie is a little thing, and it really hits home just how little when I see how big the kittens are already.

IMG_1571smAnd here the big ol’ galoot, Tank, joined them on the bed – clearly they are not afraid of him.  This is Arnica (I know because the dark paws are in the background kitten, and Arnica has a slightly lighter chest.  Tank is not usually allowed on the bed, but this was a special occasion – like he was being cute with the kittens so I didn’t kick him off.

Stay warm out there!

Categories: Autumn, Daily life, Fall, kittens, Photography, Sophie, Tank, Winter | 3 Comments



After an absence from the blog I always want to explain – but really it is just a matter of living life.  We are getting ready for a huge three-week long trial that starts in just over a month – definitely the longest trial of Andy’s career so far, and as far as moving parts, one of the most complicated cases.  It is a white-collar crime allegation so there are documents upon documents upon documents in the case.  A huge time suck!

At the same time my not particularly inclined to handy-man work husband built a home for 12 chickens, who joined us on Sunday of this week.  These beauties are J’s project – he hopes to sell their eggs once they get settled and start producing.  Yesterday they came out of the coop for the first time as far as we can tell.  That was exciting because we were worried that they weren’t coming out even after the wind and snow of the early part of the week went away.    I think they just like it nice and warm, and yesterday afternoon they got that.


These two (above and below) keep us busy too.  Above is Arnica – a girl – and below is Arison – a boy.  They are 3.5 weeks old, and all these photos were taken last night as they ventured out of their nest for the first time – much to Sophie’s (momma) displeasure.


They seem to enjoy the dogs at this point – and the dogs are pretty excited but gentle about the kittens!


Even blind Leo finally found them with his nose last night, and he just wants to curl up with them.


When they decided to leave the nest they did it together, and were greeted by Mr. Tank, who knew they weren’t supposed to be wandering along.


Aren’t they the cutest!


So, that doesn’t explain every little detail of life for sure, but lets you know we are alive and well, just buried in work and trying to keep the balance of good things in life – and the animals are a part of the good things!


Oh, and J finished up his first quarter of 8th grade with his best ever grades and he made that accomplishment without interference from his parents – he’s very independent with his school work these days and really quite responsible.  We couldn’t be more excited about this development because of the growth and emotional peace it brings to J who has always worked hard but until we figured some things out this summer never got the reward for his efforts.  Now he’s getting to experience some of that, which is such a joy – it almost brings me to tears.

Categories: Andy, Autumn, Birds, chickens, Daily life, Fall, Family Fun, J, kittens, Leo, Outdoors, Photography, Sophie, Tank | 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




Categories: Daily life, Outdoors, Photography, Tank, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments


My deepest sympathy for all those in Boston and beyond who are deeply impacted by the events yesterday.  It is a horrible development, and I’m still processing as I’m sure many others are as well. 

My prayers go out for all involved, including our whole country as we adjust to a new vulnerability.  And especially to those who were so excited and sincere in using this event to honor the victims of Sandy Hook – I can’t even imagine the emotional battering this has produced.

I don’t know what to do but to continue on, praying, mourning, but doing all my normal things so that whoever did this horrible act will not have even more power over me and others by changing us and our use of our freedoms.


Second, an update of the Tankster.  He’s doing amazingly well.  Here at the office with me, pacing around the little space and exploring every corner. 

Scratch that.  As I was typing he started barking at a poor woman coming in the building to visit another business.  Can’t have that, so he’s now resting comfortably on his bed in the back of the Subaru. 

He’s certainly getting his energy back quickly!  His shaved spots on the insides of his legs and abdomen where they cleaned the road rash are the only visible signs of his ordeal.

The photo above shows him yesterday afternoon at home under considerable sedation.  Amazing how fast things can change.

So, onward . . .

When I first saw some of my photos I thought they might make an interesting black and white because of the shape and shadow, but the one I had picked out for that was this photo:


I thought maybe, just maybe it had enough curve to be like some of the classic art photos of shells that are converted to black and white.  You see, when I dream of what I want to accomplish with my photos I dream big. I might miss the mark in implementation, but I dream big, figuring as I get closer and closer to the mark I’ll value what I’m doing more and more. 

So, this was my first “attempt” at anything along the lines of black and white curves in nature, and it was such a flop that I’m not even going to show the conversion.  Just trust me, D.I.S.A.P.P.O.I.N.T.M.E.N.T.   I realized it is far to short on shadow to be as interesting as I was hoping.

I moved on.

I‘ve got blossoms (I think plum trees) from my trip to California at the beginning of the month.


And while it isn’t a spectacular art piece, I was pretty happy with my experimentation in heavier contrast in this conversion.


And I really like how the bokeh comes out in the conversion.  Yes, it is there in color, but in the black and white my eye catches it even more – or at least in a more enjoyable way.  That may be because of the bump in contrast I threw in, not really sure.

Anyway, it’s not classic sea shell photos, but it brings me a bit of joy, so I’ll not complain.

Categories: Black and White Conversions, Daily life, flowers, Outdoors, Photography, Spring, Tank, Travel | 3 Comments



 I’m posting these random flower photos from my trip earlier this month as a way to cheer up a bit.  Aren’t they beautiful? 

We’ve got snow and gray and windy and cool today, so these flowers seem like an impossible dream to me right now.


Why the need to cheer up?  (Besides the weather that is). 

Well, it is all going to end well, I’m pretty sure, but I’m dealing with the fact that yesterday while backing out the driveway (a 50 yard back-up) I ran over Tank.

Bump and another bump, both the back tires and then the front.  

No yelping. 

At first I thought I ran over a large piece of firewood that Tank sometimes carries around and leaves in the driveway.  But no, it was Tank himself.

He escaped from under the car and ran/hobbled into field right after it happened.  J and I examined him and saw nothing terribly concerning, or immediately indicating he was in trouble, but he was clearly distressed.   

There was basically a tire mark on his side/back between where his ribcage ends and his pelvis begins.

We called Andy in CA (visiting his parents) and as a family we determined it was best to take him to the emergency hospital. 


He’s okay after a stay the night in the PETS hospital, and a visit this morning to his regular vet.  But he will be in a lot of pain for the next week or so.  We’re medicating him to keep him comfortable, and he is out of the hospital and in the back of my car as I type. 

He’ll be staying close with me for the next 10 days or so because he needs to stay as inactive as possible.  That isn’t hard right now because he’s so sore he can barely move once he finds a tolerable position.  But as he improves he’s going to want to boing and bounce around in his typical Tank manner, and the vet doesn’t want him to do that for 7 – 10 days.  Those of you who know Tank personally are giggling at the thought of keeping him quite for 7 – 10 days, I know.  But if you saw how pathetic he looks right now in the back of my car, sleeping off the pain meds you might believe it is possible. 

He had a few scrapes on his hind legs and abdomen, but otherwise, no blood or anything.  No broken bones either.  But still, poor guy! 

I am so glad he’s okay, but emotionally now that the crisis is over I’m a bit more shaken up than I was when first dealing with the event. 

Can’t wait for Andy to get here later today and just hug me – I need that about right now.  Tank, while he may want the hug emotionally, will probably not want Andy to hug him because it would be too painful on his bruises.


Categories: Daily life, Photography, Spring, Tank, Travel | 7 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

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