Thursday, March 29

A Sniff of Montana

A February snow storm turned the Gallatin National Forest into a winter wonderland. On our cabin retreat, during our orientation week with the MCC, we spent two nights in the Beartooth Mountains.

The trail blazes were hard to follow due to the snow. After deviating from one of the trails, we happened upon an old car. We had fun making up stories about how it came to rest in this remote location.

A Taste of Montana

I've had many requests to post pictures taken in Montana. I've only snapped a few here and there, but I'll gladly post a few. In no particular order:

Entrance to a Montana Ranch

Thawing Ice Bridges

This picture was taken at one of our day project sites. We helped paint the interior of a home for women transitioning out of prison. From left to right: Shannon, Paula, me, Josh, Drew (squating), and Mike. Shannon is the senior crew leader, I am the senior youth crew leader, and the other four are the field crew leaders. The MCC uniform is modeled by Paula, Drew, and myself. Green t-shirt and brown or khaki carhart pants.

The Three Amigos: Shannon, Tauzha (my regional supervisor), me

Wednesday, March 28

A Rising Revelation

I sometimes feel like I've joined the Boy/Girl Scouts of America.

  • required to learn a variety of knots and hitches
  • required to use those knots and hitches in practical situations (ie: bear hangs, kitchen tarps, securing tools to vehicle roof rack)
  • just bought a utility pocket knife with a three inch blade
  • excited about upcoming technical training where I will learn how to use a two person crosscut saw as well as a chainsaw (and a myriad of other tools)
  • wear brown and green uniforms

Even with all of these similarities, the MCC veers away from the scouts in a few areas.

Comparable differences that the MCC has with the Boy/Girl Scouts:

  • no patches earned
  • no sashes (thank goodness)
  • no little boxes of cookies (a huge drawback for the MCC in my opinion)
  • no scarves

At least we don't have to sing silly songs. I would like it if we had boxes of cookies in storage, though. I might even voluntarily wear a sash if we could then have the cookies. Hmmmm?

Monday, March 26


Kickball. Better than dodgeball yet still utilizes some dodgeball rules. Soak outs, anyone? Below the head, anything goes.

Saturday, March 17

The Mystery of the Shriners

Is it possible to have a parade without the participation of the 'Shriners'?

The MCC staff spent this morning volunteering before and after the St. Patrick's Day parade here in Billings. We moved barricades and decorated & undecorated the stage. During our down time we watched the passing by of the floats and the other parade entries. Little ponies pulling little carts, llamas with saddle bags, big trucks decked out in clovers and rainbows, clowns on unicycles, green colored dogs with their over-enthusiastic owners - and then, of course, the Shriners. It never fails, every parade I've ever been to, whether in my hometown, in Washington D.C., in Charlotte, NC, or in Billings, MT, there they are - men with their hats, vests, and little motorized vehicles. Stopping and going, spinning in circles, waving and smiling. Who are the Shriners? And what do they do beyond driving makeshift bikes and go carts in parades around the nation?

Is anyone else curious about the Shriners?

Thursday, March 8

A Grave Situation

The earth has a way of absorbing a variety of things. Rain is absorbed by the earth and transported through millions of tiny pores into underground aquifers. Chemicals such as pesticides, oil leaks, and other toxins move in the same way through the pores of the earth.
But liquids aren't the only things that disappear into the earth. Any dead organism, within time, will slowly be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until it has been separated into tiny molecular compounds. It will no longer be recognizable as the organism it once was, but it's individual elements cycle through the environment, traveling through the earth and into the plants that cover the earth, eventually reaching the innards of the animals that eat the prolific plants. It is strange to think that the food that fuels me today, has a molecular structure made of elements that have been around since the beginning of time. The elements of ancient plants and animals. That's the amazing reality of it.
In a few weeks, the Billings MCC members will be volunteering for a community-wide compassion weekend (sponsored by a local church), where over 2,000 volunteers will come together in an effort to meet the many needs of the people and businesses of our city. There are over twenty projects that one can sign up for, ranging from tearing out old park playground equipment to providing handyman help to mobile home courts. We have chosen the Mountview Cemetery Project. 300 volunteers are needed to counteract the absorbing property of the earth here in Mountview. The graves are sinking slowly and steadily, moving deeper into the earth. Our job will be to cart loads of soil to individual grave plots and level each one using shovels and rakes.
Counteracting the natural processes of the earth has never turned out quite right for the humans that inhabit it. But alas, we shall try once more.

Saturday, March 3

Anonymous Package

Yesterday I received an anonymous package in the mail. A flat, padded, manila envelope. I immediately tore it open and inside was one of my favorite playthings in the world - an aerobie! A return address to Kannapolis, NC and no note attached. I googled the address but found nothing that could determine the sender. I have no idea who sent this blessed gift, but I'm completely stoked. I have, in my past, owned many an aerobie and do so presently, however, it is residing in Concord, NC with all of my other toys, stuffed in a laundry basket (my makeshift toy box) and sitting on a dusty shelf, patiently awaiting my return to the Bible Belt. This aerobie was a perfect gift. My thanks to the secret sender!

Today, unfortunately, is too windy to play with the aerobie, but I'm thrilled just thinking about the fun possibilities in the future. Me and my aerobie. Well, I suppose I must find a friend to play with me and my aerobie since it isn't a boomerang. No worries though, there are few humans that can resist the magnetism of 'the aerobie'!