I’ve added a portfolio page/tab to my blog. I guess I’ve been pining for journalism of late (I really, really miss interviewing all sorts of fascinating folks and the opportunity to have amazing experiences), and this way at least I can show off my past endeavors.

Here’s a sample of what you can find in my portfolio:

WEB Single mom fireThe photo of Phylicia and her son Jace won me a first place award in the news photo category of the 2011 Montana Better Newspaper contest. Still, I wish her house hadn’t burned down. That poor gal had had a very rough run of it when the house fire occurred. Makes me wonder where she and that little boy are now.

All the current samples are pages from the Hungry Horse News, where I was managing editor. I wrote the stories, edited the stories, shot the photos, and designed the page layout. All in a day’s work at a weekly newspaper with a small staff. Work to be proud of.

Portrait of a Lady

Every now and then, I like to post portraits I’ve taken (here’s another), because each person has a story to tell and I think you can learn a lot from portraits. The woman in this photo is the local quilting guild’s featured quilter at their annual show. Rita learned to sew from her mother and to quilt from her daughter. She’s made so many quilts, she said, that she “never stopped to count” just how many. She’s pictured at her mother’s sewing cabinet and the quilt on her lap with the flowers she hand-appliqued and hand-quilted. Lovely!

Gonna be some changes, changes made

Well, I’ve got big news to announce! I’ve resigned from my position as the editor of the Hungry Horse News. I’m planning to go back to school this fall at Montana State University in Bozeman, enrolled in their sustainable food systems program. I’m just so excited! But it’s bittersweet, too, because I’m really going to miss the people and places that I’ve gotten to know in the past year. I think my newspaper column for the week sums it up:

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly news travels in a small town.

Got a phone call last night from a friend who said she heard from someone while picking up her mail at the post office that I’ve turned in my resignation.

Received a few e-mails this morning to that effect, too, even though I’ve told few people of my decision.

So it’s true and I’ll come out with it to the public: My last day as editor of the Hungry Horse News is April 19. So including this newspaper that you hold in your hands, just four more newspapers.

For the past year, I’ve measured my life in newspaper deadlines, interviews and hikes in Glacier National Park. It’s been a wonderful, crazy, chaotic, stressful, fabulous year.

When I started this job, a number of people commented to me that this newspaper goes through editors like people change their underwear (well, I certainly hope you change your underwear more often than once a year!). Call it the nature of the business, this nutty thing called journalism. Journalists are, by their nature, always hungering after the next scoop, the next story, the next adventure.

But it’s not to another journalism job that I go. After some months of soul searching, I’ve decided to return to school in an entirely different field. It’s been a personal evolution that I’m proud to say was not lightly nor easily reached.

During my college years, I became increasingly interested in organic food and eating and living a sustainable, earth-friendly life. Call me a hippie, but it’s a personal conviction not unlike what Montanans feel for their countryside. Shouldn’t we preserve this place for the generations to follow? Shouldn’t we grow food and feed our bodies in healthy ways that ensure our children and our grandchildren can enjoy this beautiful area?

After battling a month-long illness two years ago, I made the switch to an almost completely organic way of eating. And though the prescription drugs hadn’t worked, nor had the 12 hours of sleep every night, changing the way I ate did.

Living in Flathead Valley for nearly two years, I’ve had the opportunity to write stories about and volunteer on local farms and CSAs like Terrapin Farm in Whitefish and Raven Ridge Farm in Kalispell. And you know that feeling of being so utterly, unapologetically alive that you get when standing on the summit of Huckleberry Mountain or while listening to the fresh powder swish beneath your skis on Big Mountain? That’s how I feel getting dirt under my fingernails while depositing garlic into the earth for its long winter sleep or when I’m bottle-feeding a calf at my husband’s parents’ ranch in Nebraska.

So I’m going to stop reading about the organic, back-to-the-earth life and start really living it. I’ve enrolled in the Sustainable Food Systems program at Montana State University in Bozeman, which has the major fringe benefit of being three hours closer to my husband (who lives and studies in Butte) than I am now (what a concept to actually live with or near one’s husband!). I’m headed to Butte for the summer, excited to cultivate the garden in the backyard of our apartment there.

Let me say, however, that this was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. This town has embraced me in a way that I will never forget. I’ve never felt like an outsider here; I’ve been included from day one. I’ve made friendships that I know will last, even separated by distance and destiny. I’ve learned so much about this area, about Glacier National Park and about myself in the past year. I feel like a completely different person from when I started this job on March 15, 2010.

I’ve made mistakes at this job, but I’ve also written stories and taken photographs that I’m very proud of. I’ve poured myself into this job for the past year and (I hope) added a good chapter to the life of the Hungry Horse News as its first female editor.

But this isn’t the last time you’ll see me. I’ll be just five hours away in Bozeman and I plan to stop back in Columbia Falls and the Canyon often. There’s a lot more exploring I have left to do in Glacier Park, too. I hope you’ll want to keep in touch.

Thanks for the ride, for the memories and the friendships. They’ll be cherished ‘til the end.

Desert Mountain

We went snowmobiling this morning up Desert Mountain. Great day for it and great company! Eric, Patrick and Aubrie of Swan Mountain Snowmobiling hosted an open house with tasty food at Abbott Valley Homestead. It was a great way to spend a Sunday.

Here is a view of the Canyon, as well as Columbia and Teakettle mountains (on the left and right respectively). The clouds moved in a bit, which was a bummer since it was all blue, sunny skies until we reached the summit, but thankfully the ceiling was high and I still got some great shots.

Here’s a view of some Great Bear Wilderness peaks with partial snow ghosts in the foreground. The views from the summit of Desert Mountain were spectacular. There’s a reason the snowmobile ride up there is called “the poor man’s helicopter.”

Glacier National Park peaks in the distance.

Doggie skijoring

Saturday I covered the fifth annual Doggie Skijoring event in West Glacier. Skijoring is when a person skis while being pulled along by a horse and rider through an obstacle. This was the dog version. What a riot! Watching people cross country ski while pulled by their furry friends is a sight to behold (not quite as epic as real skijoring, but pretty close!). It was funny to watch some dogs try to figure out what exactly they were supposed to be doing to varying degrees of success. Some dogs took right to it, while others seemed more intent on trotting alongside their owns or stopping entirely to scratch and sniff.

Hands down my best photo of the day. Little 8-year-old Kendall with labrador Chappy was the youngest competitor. Girl and dog were having a great time!

Even puppy butts get cold in the snow! Ruger the mutt found sitting on his owner’s boot was more comfortable than the chilly white stuff.

Winter journeys

Had a wonderful drive up the North Fork yesterday to do some interviews. Though there was some slush for much of the way, which grabbed the tires of my vehicle and made driving occasionally dicey (especially in my low-clearance Honda Civic), the views were spectacular as clouds rolled in and out, revealed snow-covered trees and the beautiful North Fork of the Flathead, which this time of year seems still and placid. I am beginning to know the bends and curves of the road so well I can let my mind wander through the landscape. And since the drive is an hour and a half one way (and only 40 miles), that’s a lot of pondering!

It’s hard to tell in photographs how really colorful winter can be under its snowy mantle. The wet bark on the trees is a deep mahogany color. The green of new growth pine stands out brightly against the drifts. And the occasional critter you might see is a flash of life and color in the landscape.

After a thoroughly enjoyable day (I am always more relaxed up the North Fork — I think it’s because the pace of life up there is what life used to be like; in the summer, people are busy tending their gardens and working on their homes. But in the winter, everyone slows down and enjoys quiet chats with a plate of cookies in front of the fire while watching big, fat snowflakes drift lazily through the lodgepoles. Every home’s host(ess) you go to offers you at the very least some tea or coffee and frequently you find yourself sitting down for lunch (and second lunch and third lunch… I feel like a hobbit!).

Below is my best photo (which is still blurry – grumble grumble) of some elk I saw on my drive home. I saw two elk cows, a calf and I think a bull elk. Also saw a number of deer.

Cabin Fever Days

This weekend in northwest Montana was the 33rd annual Cabin Fever Days. What a hoot! Cabin Fever Days is a three-day celebration that gets everyone outside (or in the bar). It generates thousands of dollars for local charities and helps the businesses in the area out, too. The most popular event is the barstool races. There are several classes ranging from your standard barstool nailed to a pair of skis to the show class, which includes all sorts of different “barstools.”

There can be a bit of occupational hazard covering the barstool races. Here, local photojournalist and friend Nate Chute barely avoids a run-in with a barstool. Notice his right hand and the fact that he’s still taking pictures while leaping into the air. Check out his photo blog here.

Smokin’ toward the finish line.

Here’s Nic Lee “paddling” toward the finish line.

This guy popped open his beer one-handed while zipping down Sugar Hill. In the true spirit of Cabin Fever Days, classy and talented!

Arm wrestling contest at the Stonefly Lounge.

Of course no Cabin Fever Days event would be complete without the mountain man contest. Here’s one rockin’ the buckskins.

Caboose and views

Journeyed to Essex yesterday for a story. Here are two photos snapped on the way back:

The snow in Essex is DEEP. And I thought we were having winter where I live!

And a little political action in Coram. Quite the opposite from the usual views around these here parts!

This weekend is Cabin Fever Days up the ‘Line. Get ready for awesome photos and no doubt hilarious tales next week!