Pebbles on the Edge

Pebbles on the Edge
Lake McDonald, 2014

Friday, April 29, 2011


Runs With Camera

I just realized something, several somethings in fact. Blogging rhymes with flogging.

Why am I writing this blog? Who is my audience? Is it narcissistic to suppose (or to hope) that someone besides myself reads this? Otherwise, why publish it? Is blogging a symptom of blatant exhibitionism? I've been accused of being an extremist, but exhibitionism? I never dreamed I'd be blogging in the first place. When I decided to go forward it was half by accident. Obviously, despite my arguments to the contrary, I have too much time on my hands.

Who would want to read this drivel, and indeed who does (besides you, Melis, because you're my sister :o} and you sort of like me!)? The act of blogging itself assumes that one is a decent enough writer--or believes one is--to withstand whatever embarrassment may come of not being decent at all. Or does it? Or is anybody capable of embarrassment anymore? And does it even matter?

Anyone can say anything in cyberspace, reveal anything, conceal anything. It's rather creepy in a "big-brother-is-watching" kind of way when one ponders it too much. How many eyes see this page, for instance? Hardly any, I think, judging by my perusal of the statistics that I recently discovered were available on the dashboard paradise, which is comforting in a way.

Who on the green earth would want to experience the whining and banality expressed here, or on any public forum for that matter? Are they after the results of my highly professional photography skills (tongue in cheek)? I'd only be offended if someone downloaded one of my pictures and claimed they'd taken it. As an "artist", I technically hold the copyright to my work until fifty years after I'm dead, but that's not very reliable. Who knows on the internet, which constricts at the same time it broadens, imprisons at the same time it frees? Free for whom? And who cares?

An acquaintance once told me that I think too much. I wanted to retort that perhaps she doesn't think enough. But maybe she was right.

Blogito ergo cogito is not the same as cogito ergo sum . So...cogito ergo sum. Somnium ergo scribo.

Two Medicine and Polebridge Road

A couple of pictures shot in early July, 2009, in Montana. Even in the flattening light of mid-day, Montana is so photogenic one cannot help taking decent pictures. I am so ready to be there again this summer! If summer ever comes. I hear from family that the weather is sub-freezing and still snowing, at the end of April!!! Perhaps these will remind everyone that summer does come to Montana, and when it finally arrives, there's nothing lovelier...and I think I'll have to visit that bakery in Polebridge.

Two Medicine driftwood (looks like a weird dragon-thing)

Fenceline on the way to Polebridge

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Runrig gu Brath!

Here are a couple of songs by my favorite band in the world forever, Runrig:


An Sabhal aig Neill

Chi Mi'n Geamhradh

Missing them these days, on their year off...Hope to see them live in Scotland.


Caveat: any mistakes in Gaelic words and spelling in the lyrics (and there are some) are those of who ever first posted them. Still, the songs are beautiful, and I love this band enough to want to share them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mo Dhùthaich: Montana...Tha gaol agam ort.

An attempt at Scottish Gaelic poetry...Gabh mo leisgeal.

Teine (fire)

Running Eagle Falls (Ruith Iolair Eas)

Montana... na Mòrbheanna

M'eudail, mo dhùthaich...tha gaol agam ort.
Tha teine ann mo chridhe airson tu,
agus iondrainn mi thu le iomlan mo chridhe.
Tha thu àlainn, tha thu bòidheach, mo ghràdh.

Tillidh mi dhachaigh, ann an Samhradh.

le Eilidh Nic na h-Aimsir (Gayle Weatherson)

And the CHEESETASTIC Translation:

Montana, the Great Mountains

My love, my country, I love you...
There is fire in my heart for you,
and I miss you with all of my heart.
You are beautiful, you are lovely, my love.

I will return home, in the Summer.

Pretty cheesy in English, or in Gaelic!  :o}

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dreams -vs- Reality

On the east side of Glacier

I suppose if I were really serious about moving back to Montana, I'd figure out a way to make it happen. Maybe I like it here, where the climate is milder and a person can grow things like wisteria and miscanthus. Maybe I just want to be anywhere but where I am. Maybe I just like to complain, and in fact, it's my second-favorite hobby, the first being spending money.

There are more people to please than just myself, however, so no matter how I might wish and whine, the decision cannot rest with me alone. I do remember every one of the thirty-two long winters I endured, all to enjoy the same number of fleeting, go figure. Here's a picture taken in 2009. I'll have more in early July when we return from our June trip.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cha sheas an uair mar a tha i....Time Out

Castle at White Sulphur

Taking some time off.....end of school year, grueling firing-schedule, glazing to do, lessons to teach, yearbook to finish, Gaelic to study, story to write.....Thank you few for reading. I'll be back soon, and you can be thankful you don't have to read my silly posts for awhile! :o} Tioraidh an drasda! Beannach leibh, mo charaidean! (I hope I spelled that correctly)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Montana: More about being an Exile

Somewhere in Montana

I'll apologize, first off, to my few readers, for what may sound like whining. It is whining. That said...

I remember the first time I really recognized how much I missed home. I was almost thirty-three. It was June, just after school had ended, the start of my first summer in Oregon. We--my youngest sister and I--traveled to Montana to help our grandparents move from the farm into a house in Hardin. They were just too fragile anymore to make that eleven mile trip over icy roads, or even dry ones. Neither of them had good sight, and both were suffering from a variety of health issues.

On our way we stayed in Belgrade, sleeping on the floor at my old house, a 15 x 60 foot trailer that I used to live in with my kids, which was now temporatrily occupied by my other sister. I arose very early in the morning, with the sun, and stood at the window, crying like a crazy-woman. Everyone thought I was stupid. I thought so too, when I remembered the last blizzard I experienced had been in May of the year before--and what the hell was I crying for, to come back to that from the land of milk and honey that was Oregon?

I got over it, eventually, and went back to my career in Oregon, if you can call teaching junior high art a career.

The second time however, was profoundly affecting, and it happened in Missoula. We were staying in a motel there, my husband and I, or maybe we weren't married yet, because I don't remember what year this was... Not a bad motel but not the Red Lion either. Again I was up before dawn, and looking out the window at the huge sky filled with morning, I realized that this was the only place on the planet that had light like this. Nowhere else has that light, nowhere that I've ever been, which isn't very many places--just nine countries and about seventeen states. Nowhere. Not even close. I realized at that moment, as the sun rose over the mountains and the Clark Fork River, that I had ripped myself out of the one place that I loved, the place that was the cradle of my being, homefire of my soul, and that for me, there would probably be no returning. Not to live. Only to visit, as a reviled tourist in my own land. I began to cry, and this time, I didn't get over it. I'll never get over it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Notes From an Exile


Why did I leave? Because I had to. Because I wanted to. I wanted to get the hell out of there, to understand what it was I was leaving and never coming back to. I left because I wanted to miss it with all of my heart, because sometimes it’s in going that makes us understand what we are, that we’re Montanans no matter where we end up.

So I write as an exile, having been away for twenty-five years, selectively remembering only the softness of springtime and long summer days but not the brutality of winter. I only remember the rising sun early over the plains striking itself into molten copper at 4:30 a.m. on the 49th parallel, not the bitter, endless darkness of October through March—six months of winter, with snow in May and sometimes in September. I remember being a child in the whole wonder of it, but how soon I forgot it in the hardships of adulthood, having to slog through snow so deep it came up to my knees, shoveling driveways, chopping wood, freezing when it got 50 below zero, driving through blizzards, the car breaking down. I remember the sweet smell of lilac and pungent cottonwood in the spring, but not the allergy headaches I got from the cotton, or the subsequent nasty spring flu. I recall the fleeting summer with the light lying over the land well into night, dusks that lasted till dawn almost when there was a moon, and the stars that glimmered in this magnificent dome above me as we slept in the dewy grass of the back yard and got eaten alive by mosquitoes as big as helicopters. But not the early, too early autumn, the cold snap in October right before Halloween, the snow in November, the snow in December, the thaw at Christmas when winter wheat would rise up too early, the long freezing days of January and February and March, the dun hills, the brown grasses, the Easter Blizzard, rain and wind and more rain in April and May and June. And then July and the county fair and first kisses before school started, warm sidewalks against bare feet, chewing on the stems of sweet grass, playing guitars in the sunset over Flathead Lake, singing by a campfire, skipping rocks, creek fishing, making love in a forest somewhere that had no name. And August, sweetly agonizing in its headlong sprint into fall, and its fitful sweeping rains, crying on the land, weeping for the summer. And over and over again. As a kid, I don’t think I minded so much. I didn’t have to drive in it, or go out and try to make a living in a place whose wealth has always been gathered to the few, and the rest sent out of state on copper or coal or timber trains, leaving us natives to clean up the toxic mess and pay in cash and health for the rapaciousness of the greedy. It was grinding poverty sometimes, with two kids, going to school because my pride wouldn’t let me do welfare and I’m glad it didn’t because I was not going to stoop to that.

I’m old enough now to deserve these memories, to revel in whichever ones suit my fancy, and I’ve earned them. I’ve endured thirty-two Montana winters, but also known the sheer sweetness of thirty-two Montana summers, and it makes all the difference, and summer is still what I live long as it’s summer in Montana.

If Wishes Were Horses...


Lots of wishes today, the foremost being I wish it would stop raining! This is supposed to be a desert, averaging 8" of precipitation a year. Things should be in the ground by now, growing.

I wish I could retire. I'm so ready. The only alternative would be to teach college rather than high school, but I'm so not going to get an MFA at my age.

I wish I were smart and clever, rather than merely glib. Well, nothing can be done about that.

I wish I were home--not in winter, of course, unless it were possible to escape to somewhere warm for a month or two and live in Montana for the rest of eternity.

I wish I had calculated everything differently, but then I wouldn't be the strange person I turned out to be, and even my wishes would  have been different.

I wish I could figure out what I want to be when I grow up--oh, wait, I'll never grow up.

I wish my kids were closer, and that I wasn't the only one of my family stuck in this cultural wasteland of Eastern Oregon. I'm so tired of living here like a fish out of water.

I wish the world were a better place, that humans could just get along with each other, without differences in ideology, color, ethnicity, language--whatever minutiae divides us--getting between us and being human.

But then, we are doomed to repeat history, not because we don't know it, but because that's what we do.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Me and International Harvester

Thought this was funny...

With some color balancing in Photoshop

The quintessential tomboy girlie-girl, circa 1956 or 57 (?) I was probably two or almost three years old, wearing my favorite headgear, an IH cowboy hat. I kept that thing till it was beat to squishy. I think I was in high school when it finally got tossed.

And look at our old International Harvester pickup truck. Dad had already started selling IH farm equipment back then. I remember riding in it to the dump with him. No seatbelts or car seats in those days, just jouncing around in the front passenger seat beside him. Every once in a while over a particularly bumpy section of dirt road, his big arm would flash out to keep me from bouncing onto the floor.

On one occasion he'd given me a handful of wheat pennies, which I jingled in my pocket and kept taking out to look at. I still have them in the original pink plastic shoe-bank where I put them after getting home. This was when we lived in Glendive. I remember a lot of sun, and falling out of the car into the ditch. What fun!

My mom made the overalls out of corduroy, and dig those tennis-shoes! The epitome of feminine fashion!

Maybe it was where I grew up, but...impressions of Glacier

Summer haze: From the East

To clarify...My dad's family was from Columbus, Montana. I didn't grow up there, and didn't see Yellowstone National Park until I was in my 20s. Frankly, aside from the thermal activities that occur within the Yellowstone caldera, it's not really that impressive to me. What does impress me is everything about Glacier Park. Maybe it's just because I grew up camping there with my family every weekend as a kid, or when I was at college in the Bozone going back in the summers to hike in those mountains, or just driving through to get my mountain fix, and emerging once more into that sea of tawny plain east of the front.

To me, there's no place on earth like Glacier Park. I visited it first when I was three, and have been impressed ever since.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unsavvy Blogger!

Well, I just deleted my entire blog roll. I think I've restored nearly everyone, but am still looking for one of my Scottish Gaelic ones...Sorry about that, people. I'm all thumbs and can't type, or apparently push buttons either.

Or not push them.

I think I lost my three followers too...I'm a lost ball in the tall weeds.

The picture is of my grandfather Frederick Weatherson, rowing people across the flooded Stillwater after the bridge went out. That's the story anyway...He seemed quite the adventurer.

Preserve your memories...Old old photos of the Yellowstone area, Ekalaka, and Medicine Rocks

By way of explanation then...When my father died in 1987, I inherited a number of old photographs of the Yellowstone area, many undoubtedly shot by my grandfather, Fred Weatherson, whom I never met. Apparently he was quite a photo buff in the 1920s. My dad was born in 1926 and Fred died when my dad was two, so I am assuming these were taken in the 1920s. If I have this wrong, someone who knows better will undoubtedly correct me.

There are also photos of cow camps, real cowboys, cattle, and fishing, as well as shots of daily life along the Stillwater River near Columbus, Montana, where my dad's family farmed, and presumably ranched.

I've had these in a drawer for a long time, unable to figure out how to preserve them. I thought I'd start scanning and filing them digitally. Having made a small beginning, I plan to post more as I have them recorded. They are a treasure, although many are deteriorated from the glue used to stick them into the album from which they were taken. I received them loose, and the majority have nothing written on them to identify exactly where and when they were taken. It's a sweet mystery...

Of course, the ones of Ekalaka and the Medicine Rocks were taken later, in the 1950s I believe. Enjoy, and if anyone has ideas regarding the identity of some of these places, please feel free to post a comment or two.

Ekalaka, Montana in the 1950s (?)


Medicine Rocks

Mule Team on the farm (Stillwater County, Montana)


Yellowstone Canyon Guide Map

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Montana Pictures

Jeremiah contemplating Lake McDonald

North Fork Country

Bowman Lake

Two Medicine

Trail at Two Medicine

Roots on the route

Just some unadulterated pictures of home. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New and Newish Jewelry

Since very few people read this blog, I feel confident that those who do will forgive the truly bad photography! I am still sighting in my new lens (I think I'll eventually need a real macro), the lighting was inadequate, and the shots were badly planned. Just wanted to show some of my recent work. I am mentoring a girl in jewelry for her senior project so I actually started working again in silver, despite my hand. I rather like the new stuff with all the little leaves, the details of which are lost in these rather dark photos. Thanks for looking.

My workbench this morning.

Silver items in various states of completion, some fired, some not. I guess I'm into leaves now.

...or maybe I always was. More fine silver stuff, some with 24K gold.

Fine Silver Ogham pendants with various Scottish Gaelic words. (Alba, Anam, Eudail, Solas, Math...)

More...sort of Celtic looking on the upper left--my own design, originally a stamp carved out of clay for use in pottery. These are fairly large.

And now my lower back hurts really bad, and I must have dislocated my left shoulder during the night (sleeping can be dangerous!), so all of this is either taking my mind off of the pain in my hand, or making it worse. I can't tell. Getting old sucks, although 56 isn't that old for some people. And tomorrow my 7th period class starts ceramics--I don't know how the heck I'm going to show them how to build a box. Oh well...

Mar sin leat! Tioraidh an drasda!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Experiments From the Mists of Time

Gayle at Glacier Park: St. Mary's Lake...I was so happy then, at three. We'd just moved to Conrad from Glendive. It was 1957. Incredibly (or not) I remember this trip. I loved these mountains. Still do.

My yard with fluffy white autumn clouds.

Punk-ass snowboy built by Jeremiah, Crystal, and friend Ryaan after our Christmas snow. There was a buxom snow-lass too but I didn't get a good picture of her. Her hair looked like a birdnest.

Testing the new lens.

Just some random stuff--not very good either. I still have dust on my sensor and don't want to get it off myself because I did break the old lens and I'd probably break the camera itself if I stuck my finger inside it too. There are no photography shops anywhere near this cultural and shopping backwater, so until I find a place, I won't be doing much picture-taking.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lights, Camera


Mirror Image

Fabric of Light

Cowgirl Watch

Here are some of various kinds of light, taken without a flash.

Tree dreams

Some rather interesting pictures of the hybrid poplar tree plantations outside of Boardman, Oregon. I took these from the car going at 70 mph and the motion of the fence and grasses as we whizzed by is rather intriguing...They reminded me of your tree paintings, Melis.

These plantations cover ground that was previously completely bare of anything but grass and sagebrush. They receive water and nitrients through drip-irrigation, and are harvested when mature to provide material for moulding trim and paper pulp. They harbor a variety of wildlife, including cougars. I'd hate to get lost in one in the dark! Or even daylight. There are no points of reference once inside. Alex should shoot a film in there.

It's still strange to see these vast artificial forests in the middle of the desert of Eastern Oregon...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

 Lake McDonald Lodge

Trees at Lake McDonald

Just a couple of photos for a bit of a change. I've been slamming at work and have meetings every night this week, wishing I could retire someday because I'm old and I'm tired. (can you tell it's near the end of the school year?) I'm sharing a bunch of random thoughts through a haze of exhaustion so forgive me for not being my usual self, whoever that is.

We are now plotting our trajectory into the state of Montana for a week this summer. I think we'll be staying in Coram, provided we aren't too late making reservations. Just wanna be home, where there's peace and silence and mountains. It was necessity, not choice that brought me to Oregon all those years ago. I like my life, but it's not the same sky that the moon sails through.

The Scottish Gaels have a name for this kind of feeling: cianalas. longing, homesickness....

We may visit my son in the Bozone, and my sister in Butte, and perhaps my other sister on the ranch near Willsall between the Bridgers and the Crazies. Or we may do what I want and that's nothing at all, except to follow our hood ornament and go. I'll be doing research for my story (357 pages now).

In other news, we went out to a sheep ranch in the boonies the other evening for a lamb dinner and party. The couple who own the ranch are from Montana. They have about a gazillion sheep, and a cattle ranch near Big Timber. Of course the boonies in Oregon are much different than the boonies in Montana. Here in Oregon nothing's that far away from anything else, except maybe in the south-eastern part of the state in Malheur County. It was enjoyable, the food was good, prepared in foil under hot rocks and a huge pile of dirt by a crew of Peruvian sheepherders that work on the ranch. The company was excellent and we were entertained by some Irish songs (and one Scottish one!) provided by a group called the Irish Singers. A friend of ours sings and plays guitar in this outfit, although the fiddle player was sadly missing that evening: Danny Emmert, a National Fiddle Champion from Pendleton.

The stars when we left the sheep ranch were a bit like the ones in Montana, but not the same. Never the same. Nothing is the same, not the silence, not the sun, not even the air.

I have reverse-altitude sickness. There is such a thing, actually. I grew up at around 3800 feet, so a Montana fix is in the offing. I can't wait to go home. I'd just as soon stay there forever.