Category Archives: Family

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.

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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.

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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.

Photo Challenge – Animals

Clyde says Hello. Photo: TLClark, 2/14/2020.

My quilting friend across the street has two cats – Bonnie & Clyde. Clyde nearly always greets me at the door; the one time I had a camera with me he was much more interested in what I had in my hand than in having his picture taken (above). Bonnie typically ignores me but had just enough curiosity to sit up to see what was going on (below).

Bonnie. Photo: TLClark, 2/14/2020.

My sister’s family also has a Bonnie & Clyde. Not cats, though. Dogs.

Clyde & Bonnie. Photo: TLClark, 10/27/2019.

All the dogs at that house are loved, but the favorite is clearly the English Bulldog. I was taking pictures of my nieces and nephews last fall when one of them insisted I take a picture of Gus.

Gus. Photo: TLClark, 6/9/2019.

So there you have it – a few pictures of animals that are keeping some of my favorite people company during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted in response to this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge.

Photo Challenge: Connect

Clasp of Bracelet. Photo: TLClark, 3/27/2020.

There are so many ways to take the Tuesday Photo Challenge of connect this week! I finally settled on a piece of jewelry. Every time I wear it – or even just see it – I am reminded of love and laughter and relationships that persist across time and place.

We were all together for Thanksgiving about eight years ago. Tanya had an empty bracelet chain for each female in the clan. And dozens and dozens of beads.

Beads. Photo: TLCLark, 3/25/2020.

One by one Tanya handed each of us two or three specially chosen beads that said something about our connection, our interests, our family. She then instructed us to choose as many additional beads as we wanted to fill out our bracelets.

I picked glass beads based on my favorite color and how they would match the PROSTATE CANCER RIBBON bead Tanya had given me to honor my husband.

Glass Beads. Photo: TLClark, 3//27/2020.

Those who know me will easily guess the meanings of some beads.

  • CROSS – I’m an ordained minister.
  • SIS – Tanya is my sister.
  • TEAPOT – My husband and I drink tea (not coffee).
  • BELLS – I have a bell collection.

The CAROLERS take me back to my childhood. We looked forward to Christmas caroling as a family every year. Dad would instigate it. Mom would have treats prepared (with help from the kids!). All five of us would go because it was a family thing. We would stop at friends’ homes, sing a carol or two, and invite them to join us. More often than not, they would drop what they’d been doing and go along. At the end of the evening everyone gathered around the fireplace at our house with mugs of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies in hand.

In this time of physical distancing, may you find ways to connect with others (a phone call? a text? an e-mail? a card?). And may you be reminded of love and laughter and relationships that persist across time and place.

Musing: Worship in the Time of COVID-19

Sunday Morning Sun on Roses. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

The roses had graced the kitchen table for more than a week.
On Sunday they became altar flowers.

In this time of physical social distancing
and with a householder in a high-risk category,
we opted to worship God at home.

Come, let’s sing out loud to the LORD!
Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!
Let’s come … with thanks!
Lets shout songs of joy…!

Psalm 91:1-2, Common English Version

There were plenty of options to watch worship.
But I opted to create something a bit more hands-on.
(It might have something to do with the ministerial training in me.)

After Worship, 3/15/2020. Photo: TLClark.
  • SINGING using a keyboard and the songbook Songs & Prayers from Taize;
  • READING from a Bible, the Revised Common Lectionary passages for the day (can be found online at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library);
  • PRAYING for others using an intercessory prayer from The New Century Hymnal;
  • LISTENING and humming, and singing along to the “Lord of Light” CD by the St. Louis Jesuits (Bob Dufford, S.J.; John Foley, S.J.; Tim Manion; Roc O’Connor, S.J.; and Dan Schutte);
  • and PRAYING as the Spirit led with paper and colored pencils.
John Praying with Colored Pencils. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

But the time is coming–and is here!–
when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:23a, Common English Bible

In ordinary times we gather on Sunday morning with other Christians.
For now, this works.

Be well, Friends.

Please wash your hands
and keep a physical distance from others.

And, if it’s in your spirituality, offer a prayer today for patients and their families,
for the the many, many people working to care for those who are sick,
for researchers and lab workers,
for decision makers,
and for everyone who’s regular routine has been upended.

Photo Challenge – Rest

Rest: the silence in music that makes the music music.

Rest and Rhythm. Photo: TLClark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: asleep, safe and secure.

Rest in Grandpa’s Arms. Photo: TLClark, 9/25/2019.

Rest: quilts made with love and a prayer for sweet dreams.

Pick a Quilt! Photo: TLClark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: relaxing with feet up.

Fuzzy Feet Resting. Photo: TLCLark, 2/8/2020.

Rest: eternal peace.

Rest in Peace. Photo: TLClark, 9/27/2019.

Posted in Response to Tuesday Photo Challenge – Rest by Dutch Goes the Photo!

Musing: Named

Christmas Bouquet. Photo: TLClark, 12/22/19.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet;

– William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet

My birth certificate, my driver’s license, and every legal document I’ve ever signed show my name is Teressa. But when I’m with family, I’m rarely called by that name.

“… you will call him Jesus … “

“… they will call him Emmanuel …”

from Matthew 1:21 & 23

Jesus is the name given to the baby whose birth Christians celebrate this time of year. But it’s not the only name he is called.

In the novels of The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin each character has a name known and used by others. But each also has a “true name” known to very few.

The names we use for one another matter. They carry connections to particular people. They may recall a specific place (my Girl Scout camp counselor name was “Louie”). They might speak to a season of life (nicknames of athletes on a sports team).

Names can be used to build up or tear down, as an endearment or a taunting, for expressing affection or ridicule.

Beloved, may you be called by name today – a name that strengthens your spirit and brings a smile to your face. And may every name you use for another be a word of encouragement.