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Merry Christmas from Tim

Framing the West Wall
The west wall and exterior basement stairs
December 13th, 2006

Christmas, my favorite time of the year, was approaching quickly. This year I had many blessings I was grateful for; my life, my family and friends. The fire brought a new appreciation for God's blessings and strengthened the bonds I shared with my family and friends.

Aaron and Justin continued their steady and skillful work on the house. This week they framed the second floor and started to sheet the exterior walls.

Phoenix Villa
A birds-eye view from the western ridge behind my new home
and looking towards the north
Phoenix Villa and Emigrant Peak
Burnt trees frame the west wall of
Phoenix Villa and Emigrant Peak

Livingston Congregational Church

Livingston Congregational Church
Livingston Congregational Church on Third
and Clark Street in Livingston, Montana
December 17th, 2006

As a small boy my parents took my five brothers and I to the First Baptist church in the center of Branford, Connecticut. Rain, snow or with a warm sun shining we walked a mile to church every Sunday just like my Mom did when she was a child. My brothers and I attended Sunday School where we read stories from the Old and New Testaments. Then we met my Dad, and sat with him in the balcony, while the minister preached his sermon and my Mom sang in the choir. I especially remembered Christmas services because we sang many lovely hymns.

 
Pastor Durgan
Pastor Harlon R Durgan

From the first moment I passed under the entryway arch, and set foot inside the Livingston Congregational Church, I felt comfortable and relaxed like I did as a child in the First Baptist Church. Warm, early spring sunlight streamed through the beautiful stained glass windows. A soft, red carpet quieted parishioners's footsteps. A high, vaulted ceiling, reached towards the heavens. I felt comfortable and calm.

Today the church was decorated with pine boughs and Christmas flowers. Pastor Durgan delivered a wonderful sermon about the true meaning of Christmas. We rose and sang hymns together. We prayed together and gave thanks to God for the blessings in our lives and asked Him to help others in need. As always, I felt refreshed and renewed, when the service was over and I passed under the entryway arch again.

Church Stained Glass Windows
Stained glass windows inside the Livingston Congregational Church
Della Tucker
Della Tucker

Back in Branford, Connecticut for Christmas

James Blackstone Memorial Library
The James Blackstone Memorial Library at sunset
in Branford, Connecticut
December 19th, 2006

Iflew east to visit my family in Branford, Connecticut for Christmas. It felt wonderful to be back home in the town I grew up in. As a child I often visited the Blackstone Memorial Library. Like the First Baptist Church, I felt comfortable, secure and happy inside this beautiful building. The wide and easy to ascend front stairs provided a warm welcome to all who passed by. Inside, the sun's rays streamed through a high Roman dome and transparent oculus into the open rotunda. The entire library and most of the trim was carved from pink, white and grey, Tennessee marble. Huge, ten foot tall and five foot wide windows, flooded the massive reading room with natural light while the two foot thick walls silenced all outside sounds.

Blackstone Library Reading Room
Library reading room with green marble, Ionic columns
Blackstone Library Dome and Oculus
The rotunda dome and transparent oculus

Meanwhile in Montana...

Brockett Garage Framing
A new garage rises from the devastated and charred landscape
Phoenix Villa Roof Trusses
A crane gently lifts house trusses into place
 
Nick Schnabel
Nick Schnabel of Simkins-Hallin Lumber Company
created the trusses and oversaw their installation

Nick Schnabel of Simkins-Hallin Lumber Company created the trusses for the house and garage. In his words "It was one of the most challenging roofs I ever designed". Today he drove from Bozeman to make sure that his complex creation was assembled as designed.

Keith stayed on the ground and carefully guided each truss into place with a long rope as the crane operator lowered it to the second floor studs. Aaron and Justin, who seem to have no fear of heights, clambered over the six inch wall tops and meticulously secured each truss in place. Nick carefully checked each truss for proper orientation and placement. As the day wore on a giant jig-saw puzzle was perfectly assembled over my new home by a skilled team of artisans.
The sheeted trusses will support over 30,000 pounds of roofing tile and up to 200,000 pounds of deep snow. It will take more than a small blizzard to damage this roof.

Truss Guy Line
Keith steadily guides each truss from the ground via a long cable
Securing Trusses
Nick, Justin and Aaron carefully position and secure each truss

Family Christmas Traditions

Traditions
Remembering family members who
are no longer with us at Christmas
December 20th, 2006

Family traditions connect us to the past and help to guide us into the future. Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas my Mom and one of my brothers visits the graves of our family members that have passed on. We bring them a beautiful evergreen grave blanket, wreath or potted ornamental plant and place it by their headstone. Then we say a prayer and linger by their grave while we reminisce about the happy times we once shared. Although some of our loved ones are no longer physically with us, they are in spirit. I like to think, that they are smiling down from heaven when they see us placing a gift of remembrance, on their grave.

Vanderveer Grave Stone
We placed two grave blankets on my grandmother,
great grandmother, great aunt and great uncle's grave
Elmer Brockett Grave Stone
A warm and bright grave blanket adorns my dad's final resting place
 
86th Christmas
My Mom celebrates her 86th Christmas
December 25th, 2006

Since 1943 my Mom opened her presents in the living room of her house on Main street in Branford, Connecticut. Now all her children are grown, so the tradition is a little quieter, but it still continues. Children and cats were always an important part of my Mom's life. Smokey, a grey striped tabby, rests comfortably on the table behind my Mom while two other cats play with the crunched and discarded wrapping paper on the floor. In the afternoon we visited my brother Tom and his family in Branford, opened more presents and ate a delicious Christmas dinner. Everyone had a wonderful time.

Grandma Brockett
Thomas and Brianna Brockett with Great Grandma Brockett
Grandpa Tom Brockett
Grandpa Tom Brockett makes scary faces for Brianna
Christmas Tree
Tom and Carol's house and tree
were beautifully decorated
Christmas Book
Tim reads a book he received for Christmas
Brianna Brockett
Brianna Brockett celebrates her fifth Christmas

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