Posts Tagged ‘Wyoming’

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.

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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.

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School Days

March 2, 2016

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I went to school today.

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss, and the kids at St. Mary’s school were celebrating by having celebrities read the good doctor’s books to them.  It was quite a bit of fun, and the celebrities included some politicians, clergy, military leaders, firefighters and police officers.  I was not a celebrity.

My job today was to take pictures.  You can only imagine the photo target rich environment of an elementary school with adorable children sitting on a floor having “Horton Hears a Hoo” read to them by the Mayor of Cheyenne.  It really was enjoyable to see it, and the readers were having a great time doing it.

St. Mary’s school is what brought us to Cheyenne 32 years ago.  I came here to teach at the school after numerous unsuccessful attempts at finding a teaching job somewhere in the Intermountain West.  It was, in retrospect, obviously the work of the Holy Spirit that brought us here, because at the time I applied I was not practicing my faith, and the thought of teaching at a Catholic school was not what I had in mind.  Nonetheless, Sherry encouraged me to apply, and so I did.

I got a phone from Sr. Rosemary Hollerich, the principal, a few weeks after sending in the application .  She told me on the phone that I could come for the interview if I wanted, at my expense, and no guarantee of a job.  We were living in Wisconsin at the time and so lonely for the West (we had lived in Montana for three years prior to moving back to Wisconsin) that we packed a few things, put our then 7-month old daughter into our truck and drove 1,000 miles for a job interview at a place I didn’t want to work.

Funny how things work out, because it was the perfect move.  We had 8 periods in a day, and I had 7 different classes to prepare.  In addition, I was an assistant football coach and sometimes drove the bus.  Catholic schools are known for not being able to pay their teachers as much as their public school counterparts, and so I worked for starvation wages for the whole time I taught at St. Mary’s.

In spite of all that, we made some lifelong friends of the students and their parents.  St. Mary’s was a big family, and we were embraced as family from the start.  While the money situation was difficult, there was an abundance of love and support for us.   I also came back to my faith, which has proven to be the single biggest benefit to having taught at the school.

This St. Mary’s school where the books were read is not the one where I taught.  My school was knocked down a few years ago and is now a State of Wyoming parking lot. Today’s school is several blocks away from the old one, and represents a $14 million commitment of the people of St. Mary’s Cathedral to educate their children in a Catholic environment.  Hence the “Faith” photo above, sitting in front of the Dr. Seuss inspired artwork – One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. You can’t put that sign in a public school.

The delightful painting is outside a classroom, brightening the hallway with those cheery-faced children playing in the grass.  It’s indicative of the atmosphere at the school, which is full of love and joy.

It was fun being back today.  St. Mary’s school has been a part of my life for the last 32 years, and I would expect it to be a part of my life for the rest of my life.

Risen

February 29, 2016
MX Peacekeeper Missile

MX Peacekeeper Missile

This is the MX Peacekeeper missile, an easily recognizable landmark at the entrance to FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.  This particular model is no longer armed, having been deactivated through various treaties between the US and  Russia.  Thanks be to God that this weapon was never used in war, as it would have had a devastating effect on the world.  It carried ten warheads, each of them independently targeted, and could hit its intended targets within 100 yards even when fired from 10,000 miles away.  Fifty of these missiles were buried in bunkers around Cheyenne, making us a big, fat target for Russian missiles.

But I don’t want to write about the MX missile.

I saw the movie “Risen” the other day.  This film is about a Roman Tribune and his search for the corpse of the crucified Jesus.  The Tribune’s name is Clavius, and he is a Roman soldier through and through.  His boss is Pontius Pilate. Yes, that Pontius Pilate.  Pilate is deeply concerned that the Jews will steal the body of Jesus from his tomb, claim he has been resurrected, and cause all manner of trouble for Pilate as they rally the followers of Jesus in rebellion against the Romans.  By the way, the Emperor is on his way to Jerusalem from Rome, and Pilate doesn’t want any problems.  He tells Clavius, a seasoned warrior, to fix it.

Clavius, faithful soldier and good politician that he is, sets about to protect the corpse of Jesus by sealing the tomb and placing Roman guards at the entrance.  We know how this part of the story ends, and, while the guards don’t let anybody inside the tomb, nobody said anything about keeping Jesus from going outside.  In the morning on the third day, the body of Jesus is gone, the guards are in deep trouble, and Clavius now has to find the body of Jesus.

Clavius needs some help.  Earlier, in a conversation with Pilate, like two workers chatting at the water cooler, Pilate states that he prays to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom.  He then asks Clavius to which God he prays, and Clavius responds with the obvious answer, Mars, the god of war.

Mars was who Clavius sought for help in his search. After several ghastly but failed attempts at finding the surely-decaying corpse of the Nazarene, Clavius goes off towards an indentation in a wall where there is a lit candle and a small sculpture of Mars, where he prays to the war god.  This was one of the most personally compelling scenes in the entire movie.  The camera shot of Mars was from directly above the face of the statue as it was pointed up, holding a sword and a shield.  It didn’t look all that different from any Roman soldier,  actually.  But Mars looked small, pitiful and entirely helpless.  Clavius was praying to a piece of stone, an impotent figure that would do him no good.

Which brings us to the MX missile.  This is our modern Mars.  We pray to the threat of unimaginable violence and destruction in the hopes that we can prevent unimaginable violence and destruction.  Clavius paid tribute to Mars by leaving coins in front of the statue’s feet.  We pay tribute in the billions of dollars thrown at the feet of our weapons.  Clavius prayed to an empty figure, one that could do nothing to help him in his search for Jesus.  We pray to our weapons, glorifying them and their use, painting heroic pictures of muscle-bound men wielding them in an attempt to destroy the enemy.  It doesn’t appear that we are much different today than Clavius was 2,000 years ago.

Clavius’ appeals to Mars got him no closer to Jesus.  Our appeals to our weapons don’t get us closer to Jesus, either.  And if we aren’t getting closer to him, it seems to me  that we are really moving farther and farther away from him.

I am no idealist, thinking we can just throw all these things away and all will be peaceful and quiet.  There are those in other places in the world that don’t like those of us in the US, and they are itching to do us great harm.  It seems to me that we – the human race “we” – have really blown it with the instructions Jesus gave us.  At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus, just before ascending to the Father, tells the Apostles “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  

That’s a pretty clear message of what we are supposed to do.  It doesn’t say anything about using our scarce resources to build weapons that can kill hundreds of millions of people, unleash forces so destructive that nothing can survive, or pay enormous tribute to our modern Mars.  Yet that’s what we do.  Our world sees far too much anger, violence and death due to our worship of Mars, in spite of the fact that we were clearly shown the way to peace.

I highly recommend “Risen.”  It is well written and superbly acted.  I was emotionally overcome in one scene in particular, which I won’t tell you about for fear of spoiling it for you.  There were not any surprises regarding the whereabouts of the corpse of Jesus, because there was no corpse.  In order to have a corpse, there must be a death – without a Resurrection.

I am thankful that the MX missile is now standing harmless at the entrance to the Base.  Would that the rest of the weapons that threaten our world become museum pieces as well.

 

 

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.

Where’s the gold dome?

February 25, 2016
Blue Capitol

Blue Capitol

 

Things constantly change, even when they stay the same.

My original intent was to get a shot of our Capitol building under reconstruction, but I got distracted by the sky. Again.  Our state is going to spend $300 million fixing up this wonderful building, beginning now.  The whole place is surrounded by chain link fence, and scaffolding is gracing a large area of the walls.  It’s a much needed renovation, as the old building is tired and in need of modernization.

The downside to this project is that we live two blocks away, and our whole neighborhood will be consumed with construction for the next two years.  After it’s all done, however, it ought to make a nice neighborhood like ours even better.

Here’s what I find so interesting about this picture.  A few weeks ago, I took a shot of the Capitol on a cold, snowy morning. The dome shone like it was lit up, the gold glistening even in the gray morning light.  Tonight, at sunset, the same dome can hardly be differentiated from the sky.  And the sky is magnificent.

I continue to be amazed at what I am discovering on this 365 project / journey.  My eyes are different now than they were four months ago. If you’ve been reading along with this, you know that I have mentioned this fact a number of times, and it’s likely that I’ll mention it a number of times more in the future.

Something else I’m discovering is that I believe I have a book in me that needs to come out.  I have been rolling this around in my head for years, but I think I have finally determined the literary method of telling the story.  If I can get that off the ground, I’ll share it with you, dear reader, as I go along.

To the few of you who see this, thanks for reading.  I have to remind myself that I didn’t start this with the hope that I would get thousands of followers, but just so I could get some practice writing and shooting.  Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that you have followed along this far.  May God bless you always!

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.

She’ll be coming round the mountain

February 20, 2016

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It’s a Saturday, dear reader, and we had our grandson with us last night and today.  He’s 4 years old and an absolutely delightful boy.  Sherry noticed that a local group, the Sherman Hill Model Railroad Club, would have an exhibition at the mall in Cheyenne today, and so we thought that was a good place for boys, both the 4-year-old and the 58-year-old type.

My memories of model trains are from may years ago, and they consist of big gauge rail cars, tracks that sparked occasionally, and big black transformers with red and green handles.  The transformers required connections to 2 screw-down terminals that lacked any insulation.  A touch across the terminals by one hand or finger resulted in a nasty shock.  If we gave those to kids today, it’s likely we would be thrown in jail.

These trains are controlled by wireless computer systems and complicated controls.  The models themselves are incredibly realistic, and, as I understand it, awfully pricey.  The set-up for this is filled with great stuff. Model size towns, factories, a lumber mill, depots, mountains, tunnels and bridges.  It is absolutely fascinating, and if you like trains at all, this is the place to be.  I don’t believe I will ever delve into this hobby, seeing as how I just don’t have the room for it or the inclination to drop a bunch of cash on the equipment.  But I love what these folks have done, and I’ll be back to look again some time in the future.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Fini

February 15, 2016
The Room

The Room

It’s done.

The room in our basement is complete.  I wrote about the room here and here over the last month.  This is a project that began in concept a year-and-a-half ago when Sherry and I looked into what was at the time a musty storage room where the walls were falling apart and the spiders ruled the day.

We decided that we needed to reclaim the room for our use and kick out the spiders.  We began by purchasing 4×8 sheets of repurposed gym floor from Repurposed Materials in Denver. These were 1 5/8 inches thick and made of three separate layers.  They were incredibly heavy and impossible for me to move by myself.

Enter our sons-in-law, Corey and Caleb.  They helped me cut the panels in half with a circular saw, then drag the 2×8 foot panels into our basement, where they sat for a long time.

There was a lot of work that needed to be done before we even got into the room, and finally the time came where the floor could go down.

Corey came over and helped me lay the panels on the wood frame before I had my shoulder cut open.  Then he came over this weekend and finished the floor, installing the trim around the edges and wiring a light in the ceiling.

Sherry helped Corey with this part of the project, and then she completed my least favorite part of any project – she cleaned it up and put things back in order.

So this is it.

A third reclaimed room in our basement.  When we moved in 12 years ago, the basement was kind of a throwaway space that was so damp, dirty and mildewy that it was not usable.  Now we have a basement that is really a part of the house, and the foundation is shored up for the next 100 years.

This photo is not to be confused with good photography, and, even with a wide angle lens, it doesn’t capture the whole thing.  But it’s done, and we’re happy with it.

UPDATE – Yesterday I wrote about my synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.  Sherry just told me that I was hiccuping every 5 to 10 seconds, all day long, for three days.  I went to bed last night praying for relief and woke up today without a single hiccup.  That part is done, and I am on nothing stronger than Naproxen for the pain in my shoulder.  The difference in 24 hours is amazing, and I am thrilled to be quiet once again.

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.


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