Category Archives: Family

CMMC – May Alphabet – Letter “G” in the Word

Saguaro Cactus. Desert Arroyo Park, Mesa, Arizona. May 15, 2021.

“Words with the Letter G” is the theme for Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge May Alphabet. My photos this week were taken on a recent trip to Arizona to see family. So grateful to be fully vaccinated!

Golden Barrel Cactus. Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona. May 16, 2021.

My sister-in-law and I spent a marvelous morning at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. We couldn’t talk anyone else into going with us!

Bougainvillea. Gila Bend, Arizona. May 18, 2021.

My aunt uses collected glass bottles to create “flowers” and “gardens” in her yard. These pictures of green glass fit Cee’s challenge well.

My last tourist type stop was Painted Rock Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Couldn’t resist one final photo: grandmother (right), daughter (left), and granddaughter (center).

Three Generations. Gila Bend, Arizona. May 19, 2021

Bright Square Challenge: Childhood Home

Childhood Home. Baker, Montana. May 21, 2017.

We were back in Baker to help my parents pack fifty-some years of accumulations housed at the corner of 1st and George. Across the street from Lincoln Elementary School, allowing Mom to watch the kids – all the kids across the years – come and go and play at recess. Two blocks from Baker High School, where Dad taught math and computers.

Early evening, sun descending, feeling nostalgic and needing a break from boxes, I took a walk with camera in hand. This is my favorite picture of that day.

So much light and laughter and love emanated from that house. Friends always used the backdoor – knocking was optional. They knew to help themselves to a pop (aka soda) from the fridge. Teenagers soon learned they were welcome to make themselves a peanut butter sandwich or scrounge for leftovers. If supper was on the table, visitors were invited to pull up a chair. I could go on and on!

So many bright memories. So much love.

Picture posted in response to Becky’s Bright Squares challenge. Prose because this photo led me down memory lane!

Remembering: Renewal of Vows

Wedding Bands. 1994.

I’ve been thinking about a photo challenge with the word “renewal” for a week. Music and prayer, walking and reading are sources of renewal. The buds on trees now growing more noticeable here in central Iowa remind me that spring, a season of renewal, is on the way.

But my heart continues to return to the day my best beloved and I renewed our wedding vows.

Wedding Day. 1994.

John had been receiving Hospice Care at home since March. We both knew his days were numbered and were cherishing our time together.

At some point ten or twelve months earlier we’d looked at a new wedding band for him since his original band had become too big, often sliding off his finger. Being the frugal sort we opted not to buy at that time.

When choosing to stop all cancer treatment in late February, we hoped to vacation along the Oregon coast together one last time. Visiting family on the way there or back was part of the plan. Covid-19 squashed those ideas.

By August, I was doing whatever I could to grant John’s every wish. Having not spent the money on travel, we had no qualms about buying new rings.

Renewal of Vows. September 3, 2020.

The words of my Facebook post that day sum it up:

Somewhat impromptu renewal of vows.
Over the last month John has asked me to marry him more times than I can count.
We ordered new rings a week ago.
Picked up the rings this morning then drove by Urbandale UCC scouting a suitable location to renew vows.
Pastor Dave was there and agreed to preside so we just did it.

– Facebook Post, September 3, 2020.
New Wedding Bands. 2020.

John died in October; I shared his Final Word in my post After All Souls Day; you can read it here.

The renewal of vows was less about the promises made and more about the love we shared every day for more than 25 years: a deep, abiding mutual admiration of each other with a longing and commitment to help each other become the person God called us each to be. While I truly miss the daily companionship of my best beloved, I am grateful beyond words for all John taught me and the way he encouraged me in life’s journey.

May you celebrate love today and every day.

CMMC – February Pick a Topic

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge the third Wednesday of February is to use her picture to pick a topic (or two or more!) for your pictures. Click here to see her picture; it shows yard/gardening tools as well as a portable outhouse on a trailer with trees in the background.

Abandoned Outhouse. Neumann Ranch Dump, Montana. August 2008.

In my search for a picture (just one!) with a garden tool, I discovered photos of an old outhouse that had been hauled to the ranch dump. Tipped on its side, it’s definitely no longer in use!

Besides just general messing around with a camera in hand that day, Dad intended to dig a few potatoes. So here’s a picture of a shovel in use.

Digging Potatoes. Garden at Neuman Ranch, Montana. August 2008.

Same ranch, same characters, same intent and maybe the same shovel four years later. This time with trees in the background.

Dad Digging Taters. Garden at Neuman Ranch, Montana. August 2012.

Switching things up, I remembered an outdoor cleanup day at a church that might show some tools. To my delight, I found a photo that shows a bit of fun while getting the work done with a rake.

Caleen with Rake. Muscatine, Iowa. November 2012.

Finally, for a little winter work, here’s a broom and a snow shovel being put to good use.

John and Don Clearing the Deck. Muscatine, Iowa. December 2007.

Challenge: Stack

Stack of Round Hay Bales. Neumann Ranch, Montana. August 2012.

The scale of a stack of round bales is tough to fathom so I left the front of Weenie Truck – Dad’s name for his small pick-up – in the frame when cropping the first picture to share for Frank’s stack challenge.

Here’s a different angle – two bales high and who knows how many bales long.

One last picture, showing my nephew – then about six feet tall – checking out the stacked bales.

CMMC: November Pick a Topic

Judy, Julie and Snickerdoodle. Photo: TLClark, 11/10/2020.

It’s another photo challenge and I get to pick the topic based on a picture! Click on this link to see the picture and the guidelines of Cee’s challenge.

Walk. I’m visiting my parents and we walk with dear friends every day. The picture above is definitely a candid shot, another possibility for the topic of the day.

Fence. More than one fence keeps folk on the foot bridge and out of the water. I’m intrigued by stripes and the grid in the shadow.

.Foot Bridge, Shiloh Conservation Area, Billings, MT. Photo: TLClark, 11/19/2020.

Orange. The only orange I could find outdoors in central Montana in mid-November is on Snickerdoodle’s scarf. After I looked a the challenge photo again, the topic for this picture could also be fuzzy.

Snickerdoodle. Photo: TLClark, 11/21/2020.

Posted in response to Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge – November Pick a Topic from [her] Photo. Such fun!

RDP Saturday: STEPS

Steps – Not Quite Done. Photo: TLClark, 11/21/2020.I

Though I read the Ragtag Daily Prompt for bloggers daily and sometimes even think about what I could write, the day usually ends before I do anything about it.

Not today.

I’m at my parents’ home. Dad is building new steps to go out the back door. And the prompt is steps.

Dad posing with his new steps. Photo: TLClark, 11/212020.

When I asked if I could take his picture with the steps, Dad straightened right up and said, “cheese.” (Not exactly. But it looks like he said, “cheese.”)

Working on the Steps. Photo: TLClark, 11/212020.

Sometimes a project goes together as planned.

Other times, it takes making just the right face.

Dad Working on Steps. Photo: TLClark, 11/21/2020.

Whether it’s new steps or something else, may you make just the right face to have it go together perfectly.

+ + +

Posted in response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt (RDP) SATURDAY: STEPS. Click here to see the challenge; then scroll down in that post to find links to other responses.

A Photo a Week Challenge: JOY

Longtime Friends. Shiloh Conservation Area, Billings, Montana. Photo: TLClark, 11/6/2020.

In this strange time of pandemic, what brings you joy?

Julie and Judy. Shiloh Conservation Area, Billings, Montana. Photo: TLClark, 11/6/2020.

For my parents, it’s a walk and a visit with longtime friends. The walking started as rehab for Mom. In this time of social distancing, it’s grown into a (nearly) daily habit – good for body, mind, and spirit.

Tom and Don. Shiloh Conservation Area, Billings, Montana. Photo: TLClark, 11/6/2020.

The gals stay on level ground. The guys take a longer loop. The dog would like to go with both but is forced to choose.

Snickerdoodle. Photo: TLClark, 11/12/2020.

Posted in response to Nancy Merrill’s challenge “A Photo a Week Challenge: Joy.”

After All Souls Day

Monday was my first All Souls’ Day remembering my best beloved.

While I miss him dearly I am also grateful that for him all sickness and suffering is past.

John lived with metastatic prostate cancer for more than nine years and took time to consider a farewell.  As I establish a new rhythm of living and return to blogging (at least that’s my intent!), I thought I’d share his final word.

‘Biography’ by Shel Silverstein (from Every Thing On It, 2011):  ‘First he was born / And then he was warned / And then he learned how to swim / And then he was married / And then he was buried / And that’s all that happened to him.’

“I do not have any ancestors of note. My descendants are presently in the midst of busy lives and, should they distinguish themselves, it would be presumptuous to claim credit for their success.  I stand in death just as I did in life. To paraphrase the words of Sir Winston Churchill, I was a modest little man who had much to be modest about.

“Let it be said that I have had the companionship of an exceptional person over the last twenty-five years. She brought joy to my existence and there is no way that I can express my gratitude for her presence.

“I am also grateful to the countless bright, humane people who have shared my life’s journey. Thank you. May your lives be as rich as mine has been.

“Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576, physician, mathematician, astrologer, gambler, philosopher) summed my life accurately when he wrote, ‘Although happiness suggests a state quite contrary to my nature, I can truthfully say that I was privileged from time to time to attain and share a certain measure of felicity. If there is anything good at all in life with which we can adorn this comedy’s stage, I have not been cheated of such gifts.’ (from The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved by Mario Livio, 2006)

“As Lt. Colombo might say, ‘Just one more thing’.  Since life is not quite as simple as Shel Silverstein has put it, there is one last detail that must be added. Human relationships are complicated and messy. To those I have offended or treated badly, I apologize.”

– John M. Clark, “Final Word,” 2020

“Whatever Happens”

Forest. Soft Pastels Drawing by Teressa L. Clark.

A poem for these times from Wendell Berry.

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
into the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

– Wendell Berry, 1998 I, in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected & New 1979-2013 (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2013), 183.

The note I wrote in the margin is “love one another.” It’s the new commandment Jesus gave after washing the disciple’s feet.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

– John 13:34-35, NRSV

Today I’d circle the phrase “whatever happens.” The pandemic has made life seem surreal. A month ago my best beloved said, “We are living in a science fiction story.” He’s right. Whatever happens isn’t likely to be what we might have expected two months ago.

I wonder…
Are we learning to better love one another?
Are we discovering the lasting world?
Have we experienced love that will not leave?

Whatever happens, dear friends, may you know you are loved.
And may you make your way into the lasting world.

+++

Note about the illustration: We have been doing art (or maybe just playing) with colored pencils, watercolor, soft pastels or acrylic paints every Tuesday and Thursday since social distancing and stay-at-home orders started. But not on our own! We’re following Facebook Live Instructional Art Videos by Paula Rotshafer. Look for The Creative Quarantine public group on Facebook or click here.