Category Archives: People

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

“Know the Power that Is Peace” – Black Elk. Visitor Center, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
Custer National Cemetery, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. South of Hardin, Montana.

Rows and rows of white headstones, often with an American flag carefully placed at the base of each one, are a common image on Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States. This morning – Memorial Day – I found myself thinking about my visit to Little Bighorn National Monument early in May and realized I had photos of rows and rows of white headstones.

Custer National Cemetery, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Looking toward the Bighorn Mountains.

Away from the cemetery are gravestones to mark where men fell in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought along the ridges, steep bluffs, and ravines of the Little Bighorn River, in south-central Montana on June 25-26, 1876. The combatants were warriors of the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, battling men of the 7th Regiment of the US Cavalry. The Battle of the Little Bighorn has come to symbolize the clash of two vastly dissimilar cultures: the buffalo/horse culture of the northern plains tribes, and the highly industrial/agricultural based culture of the United States.

Context & Story of the Battle, https://www.nps.gov/libi/learn/historyculture/battle-story.htm
Hillside of Custer’s Last Stand

I grew up in eastern Montana and knew of the battle as “Custer’s Last Stand” – a terrible defeat for the cavalry.

Part of the Battlefield

But for the warriors who were defending their homeland, it was a great victory.

“That night the Lakota men, women, and children lighted many fires and danced; their hearts were glad for the Great Spirit had given them a great victory.”

– Etched on the Indian Memorial, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
A Great Victory
The Warriors

“An Indian memorial to honor Native American participation in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25-26, 1876, and to change the name of Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, was authorized by Congress in 1991 and signed into law by former President George H. W. Bush on December 10, 1991.”

From the sign describing the Indian Memorial

The design of the Indian Memorial is circular. It includes the etchings of the warriors (above) and words of “A Great Victory.” It also has a remarkable metal sculpture (below) and quotations from Native Americans.

Isn’t it interesting how we frame a story based on our particular experiences, culture, heritage, and more? What might we learn if we were to truly listen to a different narrative of the same event? Whose story do I/we need to hear today?

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.

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.”

Musing: Hands

Hands, Massage Therapy. Photo: TLClark, 6/10/2020.

Emily, an Hospice Massage Therapist, was here today. With gentle touch she provided some relief from the deep bone pain (related to metastasized cancer) experienced by my best beloved.

At one point John looked at me and asked if I was going to take a picture. He then proceeded to tell her about my interest in photography. So what could I do but get the camera?!!

Emily’s tools are her hands. As such they have their own special insurance policy. After all, if something happens to her hands she’s out of a job!

Massage Therapy, Hand. Photo: TLClark, 6/10/2020.

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Later I looked at several scripture passages that mentioned hands. This one, a prayer, stood out to me:

“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Acts 4:29-30 NRSV

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p.s. When I started this post a week ago I thought about the simple act of holding a person’s hand – something we don’t do outside our homes in this era of COVID-19. Then I wondered about hands and healing in scripture. Before I knew it I needed to be taking care of other business. So, here it is a week later than intended with only a postscript added to complete it.

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.

Colored Pencils for Praying and Playing

Broken Colored Pencil Tips. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.
Colored Pencil Shavings in Trash. Photo: TLClark, 3/15/2020.

After getting out the colored pencils on Sunday, we’ve used them everyday this week! So grateful to have found FREE RESOURCES to help us pray and learn and simply pass the time during this period of staying home for the good of all. Note: click on the name of the each organization below for more information.

Praying with Mandalas. Photo: TLClark, 3/16/2020.
  • Tuesday: Watching and Learning to Draw with Paula Rotschafer in her public Facebook Group The Creative Quarantine – my cow just makes me laugh!
Drawing a Cow with The Creative Quarantine. Photo: TLClark, 3/17/2020.
A Prayer from Illustrated Ministry. Photo: TLClark, 3/18/2020.

Be well, Friends!