Welcome to the New Year (just a little late)



I’ve been busy this new year and am just now getting around to posting here.  Fortunately for me, some of my busy status has involved my camera.  So I’ll share a few photos along with a few update facts.  Hope you enjoy.small-4305Spent the morning of the first day of the year on the Gallatin River – cold but beautiful!


Looking to a year of growth in professional life for both Andy and I – he as an attorney, me as a photographer.  This starting to identify myself as a photographer is hard – I envision a full schedule and a fully developed business is necessary, but the fact is those things will not come until first I identify myself as a photographer.  Sometimes I struggle to get things in the right order, but I’m working on it!


My “one little word” for this year is Photography.  Yep, trying to fully integrate this identity.  Plus, it just brings me great joy!  I have so many photography project ideas and I’m (well, really, Andy and I) am/are working on a way to get me the time to implement those ideas.


J has started back to karate team practice with a big goal/dream of going to nationals again this year.  His skills I think will qualify him.  What he really will be challenged by is raising the funds to get to the actual event, which is all the way in Florida, and he can’t go alone.  We placed the responsibility on him for that, and he’s thinking through what that might look like.  But right now he’s a bit distracted by the pending “final exams” which he will take for the first time in less than 10 days.  He’s growing into so much so quickly!


That is it for the updates today.  Hope to be back again soon!

Categories: Andy, Blessings, Daily life, Family photographer, Gallatin River, J, Karate, Montana, Montana weather, My Backyard, One Little Word, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Winter | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment



We got the star on the tree – Aunt Elizabeth knows it was missing for a long time.  It was set (poorly, but set) last night after 9 p.m.


But we never got the nativities sorted beyond the flash mob status.  A reflection of some of the unique characteristics of this particular season – good season but always on the go!


Even Miss Sophie needs a bit of a nap after all the rushing around.


Papa needs a nap because he got up early and plowed away the new fallen snow for us and the neighbors (Merry Christmas neighbors), and he went for a run – all before we were opening gifts at the crack of dawn.  Get rested up Papa we still have a movie to catch!


The goggles and flannel shirt are new, helmet is old.  But this seems to be the chosen attire for the day – threatening to go to Unbroken wearing this later this afternoon.  We’ll see.  I bet he selects this outfit instead:small-4032

New jacket is from Grandma and Grandpa – thank you!  He’s in love and I love the idea that I’ll be able to spot him on the ice flow or the ski hill.  He’s wearing it right now (flannel shirt under, helmet and goggles still on) while listening to music by Lecrae.

All this colorful fun to celebrate the best gift in history – birth of Jesus.  Can’t forget that without that best gift we just wouldn’t be the same – not the same at all!

Categories: Andy, Blessings, Christmas, Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, J, kids, snow, Thankful to God, Winter | 3 Comments



Photos from a drive around my neighborhood yesterday morning – cold and clear!


Poor cows must be very cold – wearing a blanket of snow doesn’t sound very warm to me.


It was negative something or another as I drove around, so most of these are shot out my car window – not the best, but you make do with what you have access to.  I just wasn’t ready to be walking.


Did go for a cold cold walk in the afternoon/evening with Andy.  We got a later start than intended and that really impacted our experience.  Started at 4 degrees, which is cold but okay if dressed properly and moving.  By the time we got back to the car it was -8, which is just too cold for me.  I was probably kind of whinny.  Yeah, so mature of me, I know.


Categories: Autumn, cows, Daily life, Fall, Light, Montana, Montana weather, My Backyard, Outdoors, Photography, snow, Weather, Winter | 2 Comments


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



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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ( 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.


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



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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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


sm (6 of 8)This morning I got to go out into the front yard and take some photos of wolf tracks.  I was only this far away from the house (see photo below) at most, and many of the tracks were about 1/2 way between where I was when I took the photo and the house:sm (7 of 8)

So, that means the wolf making the tracks was probably less than 50 yards from the house yesterday/last night.

The tracks were discovered by Andy and Tank out on their evening walk.  It was a pretty big deal and J went out and used his old IPOD to get some night time photos.  I however was lazy and waited until this morning, which might not have been best as the night was warm and windy (probably above freezing most of the night with a storm coming in) so the snow deteriorated greatly over night.  Still, these are the photos I did get when I strolled out there this morning:

sm (1 of 8)

Nothing too spectacular as prints go because of the melting snow, but still, a wolf, in my front yard.  That is pretty cool and scary all at the same time.

sm (2 of 8)

J, of course, would like to shoot it in the name of protecting his chickens.  Andy and I aren’t on his page with that one.  While we understand the ranchers struggle with the wolves, we don’t think just killing them because they exist is very wise or good stewardship of God’s creation.  So, the rifle stays in the house.

sm (3 of 8)

We haven’t actually seen the wolf, but our neighbor has – he is of J’s mind-set in case you wondered.  He’ll shoot on sight if he gets a chance.

sm (5 of 8)

Impressive how long the claws are, huh?

We’ve had a wolf in the neighborhood before, but it was a number of years ago.  I saw it one day driving to the post office, and my brother saw it several mornings in a row in the same field as he went to work. 


Joining the rurality blog hop this week.

Categories: chickens, Daily life, J, Outdoors, Photography, Rural Thursdays, snow, the house, Winter, wolves | 4 Comments

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

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