Peace in our Hearts ... and ... Peace on our Earth

May we each find our inner light,
may our dreams become real for us,
in this time of year when friendships grow,
when darkness recedes and
light grows strong again ...

in this *Winter*season,
this Solstice Season of celebration and change,
I want to thank everyone
who has helped me grow as an artist, writer
and photographer -- but most especially, as a person --
through your kindnesses, your generosity
your friendship and your light.

May each of you be blessed with
the time to go inside, reflect on what
nourishes you, on what gives you
strength, on what makes you happy

May the light and peace of the Great Spirit always
shine in your hearts

Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year


PhotoFriday: Weather

Sparkle, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Montana Blog Awards

Fairyland, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Dear Blog Readers: I would like to inspire you to go over to A Chicken is not Pillage and vote for your favorite Montana blogs. Wulfgar has organized an annual blog-awards things at his blog, in order to promote Montana blogs -- both those that are well read and well known, and others, like mine, that may not have been "discovered" by the big-wide-world. Yet.

Land of Little Rain has been nominated for "Blog with the Best Photos" and Raven's Nest has been nominated for "Most Creative Blog" -- there are lots of other excellent blogs on the nominations list and you do not have to live in Montana to vote. If you have enjoyed reading my blogs and looking at the photos and my artwork, I would truly appreciate your vote. Thank you!

Of course, I would appreciate your votes for either of my blogs but there lots of other blogs on the list that also happen to be some of my favorite regular reads: Bitterroot and Bergamot is one -- most of my blog readers already visit her blog regularly, but in case you haven't, check it out -- she has an eye for capturing the beauty of Nature - from tiny details to wide open landscapes. Bitterroot was my first ever online friendship to result in an in-person meetup. We met up in Missoula for a really fun day of talking (of course!) playing in the autumn leaves and taking lots of photos.

Here is more information and detail, along with a list of nominated blogs, at my other blog, Raven's Nest.


UrbanLinesSkyLines, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

This is a metal sculpture made by my son, Gabe. I had to beg him to give it to me while he was paring down his possessions after graduating from university. There was almost a line of "customers" wanting this sculpture. It hangs on my office wall -- he knew i really wanted it ...

The powerline wires connect tiny glowing street lights like a connect-the-dots painting. I love the way this looks with the tiny lights on and the rest of the office dark.

here's another view of the sculpture:

Classified Ad: MicroOrganism Seeks to become MoreOrganized

Copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy


Diaphanous Ceiling

Diaphanous Ceiling, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

A little Celtic tune by Joanie Madden, to accompany the verdance:


Wind Embodied by Beauty

Wind Embodied by Beauty, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Feathers allow birds to fly. They can fly, taking our prayers with them. Feathers remind me of life, of death, of hope, of lightness, of the light, the upper realm, the sky-realm, of spirit and my path. This feather, with it's pattern of black and white -- darkness and light -- especially reminds me that in each of us, there must be both: there must exist in our hearts the capacity to love others ... and to love ourselves.


Since I still do not have a camera or computer (of my own) I have recently been featuring photos from other folks I admire, or some of my older images that I've never blogged. Today I am posting a slideshow of some of my digital collages and Photoshop pieces, hoping that at least some of my newer blog readers will discover something they like, that they haven't already seen.

If you'd like to see any of these images in larger sizes, or individually, you can click on the photos during the slideshow and it should jump you right to that photo's page on my flickr account, or please head over to my flickr page and this album by clicking the album name: Alterations and Digital Collages

Thanks for visiting and reading my blogs.

Oh yeah, we'll be gone -- really gone -- for a few days, back early next week. I wish you all a great week.


Photo Friday: Stillness

Early Morning Frost Field, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Early morning frost against first light gold aspens, between Helena and Garrison Junction in Montana


Home for Thanksgiving

Home for Thanksgiving, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Gabe holding Baggins ... this is the only way I can get Baggins to look at the camera - usually he looks away (I think on purpose) right when I snap the photo.


sunny vegetables by ch☺c☺kat.

Sunny vegetables., originally uploaded by ch☺c☺kat..

I thought I would post a photo of a delicious, satisfying vegetarian meal today since tomorrow the millions of Americans will be stuffing themselves with meat in a feast of Thanksgiving. Today would be a good day for meatless meals!

As part of my recovery from sudden-computer-death and imminent camera death (read my first post about it here), I am continuing my daily feature of Flickr friends and contacts' photos. Today I'd like to introduce my blog readers to Kathya (ch☺c☺kat on Flickr)

Kathya is one of flickr's essential jewels. I drool over her food photos. Well, that might be a bit of an exxageration... but I do salivate. ;-)

Most of the food in her food pics is prepared by Kathya; some of it she shoots in restaurants, delis, even grocery stores. when I first realized how into food photography she was, I thought Kat was obsessed with food. I soon realized she's not obsessed with food and eating -- she's obsessed with living well, with the pleasure of earth's bounty, with the fun and satisfaction of sitting down to a beautifully composed meal or snack, even if you are eating alone!

As someone who loves to cook and prepare beautiful yummy meals, I have appreciated Kat's stylin' food pics whenever I need inspiration for what to cook tonight.

Check out her HUGE set of food pics here. An American living in Weisbaden, Germany, Kathya's blog, Let me think I left a spot on your lovely sunis one I try to visit regularly.

Symphony by Bitterroot

Symphony, originally uploaded by Bitterroot.

My computer died. Tis utterly and completely dead. Sob. My camera is on the blink. I should probably call in Hospice (for the camera.) I need a mortician for the computer.

So, I'm taking a break from my own photos until I get a new computer and probably a new camera --- two very big ticket items, so I have no idea when that will happen. In the meantime I decided I would like to introduce my blog readers to some of my flickr friends' amazing photography. You may already know some of the photographers I'll be featuring -- you may be one of those folks ... but if you don't already know them, please head over to their flickr streams and check out their unique photographic vision.

Today I want to thank my first ever real-life meetup flickr friend, Bitterroot. We spent one whole day together in Montana -- both of us traveled to get to our meeting place -- and hit it off from the first sight. She says I have taught her alot about how to see the world. She has her own deep connection with Nature, with the earth's pristine places, that has rubbed off on me inevitably as I float along in her flickr stream, and browse her blog, Bitterroot and Bergamot.

Bitterroot, this photo says so much about you - the title, for one. You have a poet's heart. The color - so vibrant against a quiet, simple ground ... the simplicity of composition. Your eye for magical details like the moisture shining on these perfect tiny globes. It's alot like you are as a person. thanks for your company and comraderie.


Thanksgiving Feast

Swimming Hole, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.
Though it won't look exactly like this because I shot this photo in the summer, this is close to where we are hoping to spend Thanksgiving day. this is the swimming hole. I don't think we'll be swimming, but you never know. Someone might get brave enough to break the ice! brrrr.

So, anyway, we're sharing a Thanksgiving feast with some family and friends the day after Thanksgiving. It will be a rustic gathering -- sleepover Friday late afternoon to sometime on Saturday. if you want to stay overnight, just bring a bag and pad. We'll provide the floor, woodstove, food and an outdoor fire in the night, weather-permitting ... and if you have a musical instrument, please bring it. Homemade music is always fun.

Call or email for directions. if you're friends with Gabe or Mick, you know the numbers.

Sumac Branch

Sumac Branch, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

In celebration of trees, the Festival of Trees features some of the best blogging anywhere. Here's a slideshow of a collection of tree photos titled, Soul of a Tree.


Wild Asparagus

Wild Asparagus, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

In spring, here in Montana I love to find tender asparagus shoots while I'm walking in the countryside. The shoots are best when they're thin - about the size of a pencil -- and from six to ten inches high. They're so tender you can eat them raw as you pick the shoots. The asparagus I find on those early spring hikes rarely make it home to the steamer.

Of course, those tiny asparagus are hard to find, which is one reason wild asparagus is such a delicacy. Their stems rarely poke above the surrounding grasses and shrubbery when they're still small enough to eat. The best way to find wild asparagus in Spring is to think ahead -- when I'm walking the hills and valleys around Helena in fall and winter, I make a mental note of where I can see the tall, now-golden asparagus fronds left behind. Then, come Spring when the snow melts and the hills are starting to green up, I can go to those hidden hollows where I know it has been growing. A little hunting through the leftover grasses and forbs of winter ... and voila! My hiking-side-dish delicacy!


Calyx I

Calyx I, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

The Soul:
Forever and forever — longer than soil is brown and solid — longer than water ebbs and flows.

— Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass



Waiting, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I love the way his rapidly graying face gives Sam these expressions. He looks almost worried, but I'm sure he's not. It's just kindof a sad-sack look ...


Tell me what you see vanishing

Tell me what you see vanishing Copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy

Tell me what you see vanishing and

I will tell you who you are.

-- W.S.Merwin


Lily Leaves with Skull

Lily Leaves with Skull, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


My Blue Double

My Blue Double, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Self Portrait in Blue: this really is a corner of my studio, even though I played around with the photo --- just for fun.



Snowmelt, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Poetry Thursday: she was just a child

She was just a child, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I made this for Poetry Thursday.
Today I am in a thousand percent visual mood.

the words are
in there somewhere
she was only a child ...

i could not write it

Today's post is part of a growing circle of blog posts written for Poetry Thursday, begun by poets, Liz and Dana. Click on their names to see their blogs, or check out the other poetry posts for this week by clicking this button:

Poetry Thursday: this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea — snapshots


Moon of Offering Corn

Moon of Offering Corn, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

The sun falls lower in the sky each day.
The earth has turned
the color of buckskin and
gone to sleep .

excerpt from a poem by Nancy Wood, titled Migration:

Going from this place to another place
requires surrender of your old ways...
The soul's migration between the old place
and the new means
that you must recognize your path
to an unknown destination,
risking all with the chance
of gaining nothing. You are ...
the link that joins possibility to pain,
and thus you become the keeper of your own flame.


Sam Watching the Republicans go Down

In his 17 years, Sam has never been as interested as he is tonight, in watching the election returns. He feels the same way we do ... this country needs a big change.



Delphinium, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

things that remember themselves
are not forgotten, but rise on wings
of experience and paint our minds
with the visions of our ancestors.

things that remember themselves are pictures
without form and words without a tongue.
They give meaning to what we thought
we had forgotten in our youth.

Things that remember themselves give light
to the uncertain paths we used to take,
bringing beauty to the house
of our ripening old age.

-- 1995 Nancy Wood from Dancing Moons


Respect for all living things

now is a time to learn respect for all living things


Leaves like leather

Leaves like leather, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


subtle garment

., originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

leather-brown leaves of cottonwood settled on rabbitbrush's muted blue-gray lace ...

when colors fade in
autumn, shapes and textures
come into focus.
i love the subtle colors,
crisp sounds, available light
of early November in the Rockies


Hold to this. Hold onto this until there's wind enough

excerpt from "To a Milkweed" by Deborah Digges:

Teach me to need the future,
and the past, that Indian summer.
Let me be tricked into believing
that by what moves in me I might be saved
and hold to this. Hold onto this until there's wind enough.


evening light

evening light, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

at Spring Meadow Lake
sundown walk with
Tim and Sam
the water looks like
rippled steel


Snow Flurries

Snow Flurries, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Land of Little Rain

Land of Little Rain, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

This is the nature of that country. There are hills, rounded, blunt, burned, squeezed up out of chaos, chrome and vermilion painted, aspiring to the snow-line. Between the hills lie high level-looking plains full of intolerable sun glare, or narrow valleys drowned in a blue haze. The hill surface is streaked with ash drift and black, unweathered lava flows. After rains water accumulates in the hollows of small closed valleys, and, evaporating, leaves hard dry levels of pure desertness that get the local name of dry lakes. Where the mountains are steep and the rains heavy, the pool is never quite dry, but dark and bitter ...
-- Mary Austin excerpt from "Land of Little Rain"


Water Colors

Water Colors, Copyright 2006 Maureen Shaughnessy
originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Your absence has gone through me
like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched
with its color

-- W.S.Merwin

Still Life in Water, Copyright 2006 Maureen Shaughnessy
originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you
to be unmasked,
it has no choice,
it will roll in ecstacy at your feet.

-- Franz Kafka


Heuchera's Autumn Glory

Heuchera's Autumn Glory, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


To know the Earth

To know the Earth, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

.... you must know the meaning of river stones first.
Find a place that calls to you and there
Lie face down in the grass until you feel
Each plant alive with the mystery of beginnings

-- 1993, Nancy Wood from Spirit Walker

Cottonwood leaf and twig on the banks of Spring Meadow Lake


Walking in Beauty

Walking in Beauty, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.


Life must go on. I forget just why.

This week, the Poetry Thursday prompt was to write about what we avoid ... poetry/poets/genres we avoid. Hmmm, well I decided to avoid this week's prompt altogether and just do a stream of consciousness thing pairing poems or quotes with the recent art pieces that have been inspired by my recent reading, thinking and writing.

So, I hope, as you are reading this post, you will discover writers who delight and inspire you as they do for me!

River Qi
River Qi, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven Copyright 2006 Maureen Shaughnessy

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy...that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.
--- Martha Graham

I am an abyss I am trying to cross
I am an abyss I am trying to cross Copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy
originally uploaded by MontanaRaven

I say to my breath once again,
little breath come from in front of me,
go away behind me,
row me quietly now,
as far as you can,
for I am an abyss
that I am trying to cross

-- W.S.Merwin

I am exploring some of my feelings about life, death, mystery, what it is that does not separate us from everything we think is outside of ourselves ...
These pieces are part of a series I am working on, exploring the Life Force. To see the rest of this series, click here.

The soul moves in circles, said Plotinus.
Hence our lives are not moving straight ahead;
instead hovering, wavering,
returning, renewing, repeating.
-- James Hillman

Life must go on. I forget just why.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Check out other Poetry Thursday posts by clicking this button:


Autumn Spirit

Autumn Spirit
"Autumn Spirit" Copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy

I am drawn to powerful, mysterious places... The 'creative haunting' of these locations has been imprinted on my spirit. -- Jacqueline Baldini


Poetry Thursday .... Life Force: Qi

Life Force: Hatch
Copyright Maureen Shaughnessy, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
-- Ray Bradbury
... and as much as we are one of the shouts, so too are the salmon, the bear, the hawk, the mountain, stream and light. These pieces are part of a series I am working on, about Life Force. If you like these, please check back to see others I will post as I complete them. Thank you for looking.

Salmon Run Qi
Salmon Run Qi
Copyright Maureen Shaughnessy, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven

What would the world be,
once bereft Of wet and wildness?
Let them be left,
O let them be left,
wildness and wet,
Long live the weeds and
the wildness yet.

--- by Gerard Manley Hopkins