Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Snowstorm – Springtime in the Rockies

March 23, 2016

Wind carving

Fourteen inches of snow fell today in Cheyenne.  The wind was blowing 30 miles an hour.  The wind carves at its own desire.

So long – for a little while

March 14, 2016

I started to write this post a few days ago and got sidetracked.  I have come to a decision that I have had bottled up for a while,. one which doesn’t have any immediate resolution but offers great opportunity.

I have said in the past that I have a book in me, like pretty much everyone else who has ever written a thought on paper, real or digital.

I have given this a great deal of thought, and determined that I cannot both blog and write a book at the same time.  Since I have blogged, but not written a book, it’s time for the latter to consume my efforts.

Hence the picture below.  The title of the book is “The Buffalo Hunter.”  It will be a collection of a dozen short stories, some of which got their origin in this blog.  The intention is to illustrate it with my photos, giving me the incentive to keep shooting.

Funny, but in a week without posting, I haven’t really shot much, either.  In working through challenges, my camera has been absent from my daily routine.  I really miss it, and will pick it up again in the next day or so.  I have a shoot for work coming up in a couple days, but the artist in me is screaming at being bottled up.

I’ll share some shots as I go along, and maybe post some things from the book-work-in-progress, too.  There won’t be a daily post anymore, at least for a little while, and I figure to have the book finished this fall.

Published? That, dear reader, is a different story.

20160308-HP9A1885

February 26, 2016
Birthday angel

Birthday angel

Today was the birthday of one of my co-workers.  We are a small group – 14 or 15, depending on the day, and we are pretty much a family.  It’s hard not to be when you are working for the same thing – eternal salvation – in such close proximity.

Like a family, sometimes there are disagreements, but no fisticuffs, foul language, or character assassinations.  We might raise eyebrows or talk about someone, but it’s not serious, or long lasting. And woe be unto anyone who attacks one of us – there will be all the others lined up to protect him / her.

Birthdays in the chancery are a nice change of pace.  We get a page on our office phones telling us it’s time to celebrate a birthday in the kitchen.  We all wander  out of our offices and head to the kitchen, where the birthday buddy has prepared a high calorie treat.

We draw names for the birthdays.  The birthday buddy brings a cake, or some appropriate substitute.  Our Chancellor, Carol, makes this incredible coffee cake. She was my birthday buddy a couple years ago, and, having expressed my admiration of her baking skills with that coffee cake, she knew exactly what to make.  The birthday buddy also hangs up the communal “Happy Birthday” sign, and purchases a little gift.

When everyone is gathered together, we then sing Happy Birthday.  For the last 5 years, the Happy Birthday leader has been our HR director, Larry.  Larry is a wonderful human being, but he has trouble singing in a key where others can comfortably join him, and he rarely hits the exact right note.  He gets close most of the time,  but we love the fact that he cares enough to not care about his singing.  Today, however, Larry was gone and yours truly jumped in and helped out.

The birthday girl’s gift was the angel above, which was accompanied by the framed quote behind her. The quote said something to the effect that in the morning I need a bunch of coffee and a whole lotta Jesus. You can get away with stuff like that when you work for the Catholic Church!

It all sounds so very mundane, and quaint, doesn’t it?  But really, none of us would have it any other way.  We really love each other, and we really love the work we do.  Celebrating birthdays is just another way of showing that love to the other workers in the vineyard.

We really are a family, and we really do care about the eternal salvation of the people of God in Wyoming.  It was a joyous celebration today, just like it is for every birthday at the Chancery.

Hidden treasure

February 22, 2016

 

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace

One of the benefits of working in a chancery is that we are surrounded by religious art.  Some of it, as you might imagine, is pretty good.  Case in point is this tapestry.

This photo is just a small section of a good sized tapestry.  I have never known where it came from, even though I have admired it for years and asked my co workers what they knew about it.

Tonight I was getting ready to leave, last one out, when I looked at it and it just caught my eye as a good subject for a shot. It hangs on a wall and is just outside the edge of direct light from a fixture in the ceiling.  It was a little too dark to get the details I wanted, so I took it off the wall and set it in the direct light.

Lo and behold, an envelope was taped to the back of the frame.  I looked inside and there were 2 things; a picture of the tapestry from a catalog, and a holy card from the funeral of a woman.  My guess is that this was a donation from the woman’s family to the Church, and she has gone unknown to me until tonight.

What a wonderful gift to find this generous woman’s legacy in our office!  This tapestry is so appropriately named, as it brings great peace just looking at it.  Our Blessed Mother, in all her splendor.  What joy!

Thank you to this woman for her gift.  I will prayer for the repose of her soul, and thank God for her generosity and love of our Church.

February 11, 2016
Shamrock

Shamrock

As so often happens, I intend to shoot one thing and end up with something else.

I’m at home recovering from some shoulder surgery.  It was minor as far as those things go, but it hurts and I’m basically a pain wimp.  To achieve a sense of balance, I am taking some stout painkillers that make me feel a bit woozy.  I wanted to shoot a picture of some blurred motion to illustrate that wooziness, but it didn’t work like I wanted it to. Instead, I got a nice clear shot of the white flowers of this shamrock plant.

That’s OK, because it ties into this pain theme.

The plant came from my mother to Sherry as a gift 35 years ago.  It’s a good thing Sherry got it, because I probably would have caused its demise shortly after arrival.

My mother always had plants around, and this shamrock was a treasure of hers.  I’m sure she would be pleased to know that it thrives at our home.

She also had a lot of physical pain in her life.  A bout of rheumatic fever as a teenager caused lifelong problems with her heart, and she spent a great part of her life coping with and alleviating the pain.  She managed to give birth to and raise six of us, giving her a superhero award in my book.

She never complained about it to me.  She was always active, but always moved at a more measured pace than everyone.  No doubt part of that was from chasing 6 kids around, but a big part was that her heart didn’t work as well as ours did.

She eventually had repair work done on a valve, a procedure that is done pretty routinely today. Then, back in 1973, it was experimental.  There came a time it was either replace the valve, with the accompanying risks that open heart surgery entailed, or get her affairs in order.  After much deliberation and prayer, she chose the surgery.  The doctors swapped out her God-given valve for a metal one.

The surgery was a success, and that valve kept her alive – and in my life – for the next 22 years.  I often tell the story of how, sitting at a quiet breakfast table reading the morning paper, I could hear “click, click, click”, which was the opening and closing of the valve, and the sound of life.

Mom suffered with that heart problem.  She bore it with extraordinary grace, and showed us how to endure physical hardship.

I saw suffering in her.  My shoulder is painful, but it will be better soon.  It’s inconvenient, but it’s not suffering.

My pain meds make me feel like I’ve had glass of scotch, and they make everything a little out of focus.  One thing I know that is clearly in focus is that my mother was a wonderful woman, and a great example of courage.  Every time I look at this plant, I am reminded of her and her graceful suffering.

I like the in focus.  I hope you do, too.

Mohammed

February 8, 2016

Mohammed

 

I’d like you to meet my friend, Dr. Mohammed Salih.

Mohammed is a retired educator, having taught in universities and community colleges for many years.  Originally from Sudan, he and his family have lived in Cheyenne or a long time.

Mohammed is also the Imam at the Southeast Wyoming Islamic Center in Cheyenne.  He is a gentle man, a scholar, and just a wonderful human being.

Mohammed joined our Bishop, the Rabbi of the local synagogue, and several Protestant pastors who came together for an extraordinary event, an Interfaith Prayer Service.  This is the second year of the Prayer Service, and it occurs on the first day of the Wyoming State Legislative Session.

It took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and was attended by members of the Legislature, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, the Superintendent of Public Schools, members of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Cheyenne, and a good number of the general public.  We all gathered in prayer for the work being done by our lawmakers and all those involved in the apparatus of a representative government.

There were no arguments, no clashes of personalities, no arm-waving displays of dogmatic imperialism.  Rather, this was just a large group of people coming together in prayer, asking for God’s grace and blessing upon their work.

Mohammed was a big part of this.   I’m proud to call him my friend.

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For more pictures of today’s prayer service, go to my SmugMug site.

To see our Bishop’s blog about this event, go here.

February 7, 2016
Look up

Look up

It’s easy to look straight ahead, and to look down as well.  How many times do we look up?

Today Sherry and I went to Mass at St. Joseph’s church in Cheyenne.  I usually don’t take my camera to Mass, but today I wanted some pictures of the pastor, Fr. Carl Gallinger, as he greeted parishioners as they arrived to celebrate the Eucharist.

It was quite cold, and Fr. Carl was braving the wind and meeting his people.  I got the pictures I was looking for, and then I looked up and saw the bell tower and the cross on the very top of the church.

Setting aside the dramatic setting of the cross against the azure sky, this is a fitting illustration of today’s Gospel.  Luke’s last sentence tells us of Simon, James and John “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”

Looking up at a bell tower equating to fisherman leaving their nets may seem a bit of a stretch, but here is my thinking.  The Apostles weren’t expecting Jesus, especially not the full nets they had after the Lord told them to put them in the water.  The cross against the sky was not expected either.  The Apostles dropped everything to follow Jesus.

Well, I guess there really isn’t any clear connection.

I love the cross and the sky, and I really love the last sentence of today’s Gospel.  Maybe it’s just the joy I feel when I see that cross and realize the gift that Jesus gave us.  Maybe it’s the knowledge that the Apostles were willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, and eternal life is mine if I do the same thing.

Lot’s to think about while standing in the cold taking pictures.

Lamb of God

February 5, 2016
Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

I’ve shown other stained glass windows on these pages, and each time I shoot them I am awestruck by their beauty.  Here’s the really weird thing – This image, and most of the others I have put here, are from my parish church, yet I would be hard pressed to say that I have seen them before.

Today I didn’t even intend to shoot a window.  Rather, I had an idea about a rack of pamphlets and brochures that I thought would be interesting.  When I took that shot, it wasn’t anything I would show to anyone else.  Then as I looked around and saw the light coming through this window, and I knew what I had to do.

Which is ironic.  Or perhaps Providential.  So often when we are looking for something, we just can’t see it, even if it is right in front of us.  Our lives are like that on a regular basis, always looking for something better, a different way.  We are often driven like this because of anger, or despair, or frustration, or hurt.

We scan horizons, we look in books, we search Youtube for answers to all our questions, yet they all leave lingering doubts as to their validity.

Today I was looking for one thing, but found THE thing.  The Lamb of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior, was right in front of me.  This was the brightest window.  Whatever we are looking for, Jesus is the answer.

Keep your eyes peeled, and your heart open.  Jesus is everywhere, and sometimes he is right THERE.

Thoughts on Sewing

February 4, 2016
Stitched together

Stitched together

Let me clear up any possible misconception right now.  Yes, this is a sewing machine.  No, I couldn’t use it to save my life. This is Sherry’s sewing machine. She acquired this before we were married, and we have been married 33 years.  She has had it longer than she has had me.

Sherry has a sewing room where we keep our ironing board and our iron.  Each morning I go in there to iron something to wear to work, a task I have been doing for a long time.  This morning I noticed the shadows as they cast themselves across the machine.  There is a south facing window in the room, and at 7:30 a.m. the sun is shining through as it starts its arc low across the southern horizon.  Today the blinds were just right to make me take notice of the stripes across the face of this piece of equipment.

Sewing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  More accurately, it’s been a part of the women in my life for as long as I can remember.  My mother was a wonderful seamstress, and she spent many hours running material through her Singer.  That always seemed to be the best time to talk to her – when she was busy with her hands and I was watching the TV in the same room.  Deep stuff, like girls, school, girls, my future, and girls.  She always understood, never tried to tell me what to do, and made me believe she really listened to me, because she did.

For my senior high school picture, my mom made adenim leisure suit for me.  I can see you cringing – and laughing –  right now, but in 1975 it was cutting edge.  I don’t know where that picture is, but I can see, and feel, that suit right now.

My sister-in-law Sharon is a legendary seamstress.  She made clothes for her two girls while they were growing up, and not just simple things, either.  She taught her skills to her daughters, Carole and Jayne, who picked up the craft and make clothes for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

Sherry would sew, then not, then sew, then not, then sew throughout our married life.  Maybe ten years ago, she got an interest in quilting and went down that road.  We both know of women – I don’t know any man quilters – who have gone into the quilting thing like men go into the tool/hunting/biking thing.  They have yards and yards of fabric filling up cabinets and closets in their homes, and they churn out quilts by the dozens, or so it seems.

Sherry has made quite a few quilts, but our house isn’t littered with them.  She gives them away.  She is working on two quilts for grandchildren right now, and this sewing machine is seeing a lot of use.

Which brings me to the thoughts I had when I was ironing.  Yesterday I wrote about nails holding things together for a long time.  Quilts, while not hard and stout like nails, hold things together as well, but in a much more complex manner.

When Sherry makes a quilt, she spends hours and hours cutting out little pieces of fabric, putting them into some sense of order, ironing them and then sewing them together.  I’ve seen her stay up quite late working on her quilts, not because of a deadline to finish them, but because she just loses track of time.

Her quilts are a lot like her life and our family.  She has spent years selecting the fabric of our lives, making sure that what we have is strong and durable, and it can withstand multiple cycles of clean/dirty/clean.  She takes these disparate pieces of fabric that is us and our girls, and irons them, taking out the wrinkles that distract from the beauty of the fabric.  Then she takes her scissors and cuts off the rough edges.  She sews it all together, making this batch of fabric – us – come together as one beautiful piece of art.  That finished product is a marvel to behold.  And while there are imperfections, that’s OK, because this life quilt was built out of love.

I love seeing this sewing machine.  I love what it represents to me, that connection to the strong women in my family.  I love that it is a tool that allows Sherry to make her useful art and share it with others.  I love the fact that she has used this same sewing machine for so long, never looking to acquire a new one simply because it was new.  And I love the stripes across it, giving it a depth and texture that I’ve never witnessed before.

And all that from ironing a pair of pants.

 

Snow day

February 1, 2016

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Today pretty much guarantees that no self-respecting groundhog is going to come out of his hidey-hole tomorrow, because he is going to have to climb up through a foot of snow.  We are in the midst of what one might call “seasonal weather” for the high plains.  That means really cold, 30 mph winds and 24 hours of snow.

Here it is the worst weather in a while, and I chose to walk to work today.  It’s not bad, really, as I only have about 5 blocks.  As I was walking, I watched cars struggling to get around, and I congratulated myself on  making the foot-travel decision because it was safer than being on the road.

The Capitol is about halfway between home and the office, and because of construction it is closed these days.  Despite that, it is a grand building and the tallest thing around these parts.  It’s pretty easy to pick out, too, as there aren’t any other gold-domed buildings nearby.

There’s nothing on fire here, just steam coming out the exhaust tubes from the underground heating plant that heats the capitol and the Herschler building, an office building that sits next to the Capitol.  On cold days like today, the steam rises out of the ground as though the earth has opened up to let the smoke from hades itself come to the surface.  Then the Capitol dome, gold against the gray sky, rises out of the ashes and smoke like the Phoenix, in defense of democracy and freedom.

The snow will stop at some point, and somewhere down the road it will warm up again.  Tomorrow the groundhog sleeps in, while I fire up the snow blower and clear the block.

I love living here.

 


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