Pain, Patience and the Patient/Physician Relationship

hands in lap

On Labor Day, 2014 I began a new documentary-style photo essay in collaboration with Dr. Mark Ibsen who owns Urgent Care Plus in Helena, Montana. We are telling a story with photos of his patients, of Mark and of his staff. We aren’t sure what the story will be yet — that will come when we see what the photos are telling us. For now, I am going to be spending time at the clinic and with permission from the patients themselves, documenting their time with this passionate, compassionate healer.

Watch my blog and my Brown Bird Studio Facebook page for progress on the photo essay, and for announcements of an exhibit which we hope to have sometime in the next few months.

Hands can tell so many stories just by themselves. Like eyes, hands are expressions of our history, our struggles and triumphs, our pain, sorrow and celebrations. Hands instruct. They argue. They heal, comfort and can hurt. Here are a few images from this week, from the first batch of photos that really pulled at my heart. I am curious what you think and feel when you see these images.

Hands 3 Hands 2 Hands 1 Hands 5 Hands 4

Thank you for looking and appreciating. I look forward to some dialogue about this project as we continue.

~ Maureen

1+1=1 Gallery is Moving – and having a Big Sale


Maureen’s photo, “Night Fires” hanging above fireplace. This is about the size of most of the framed prints we have on sale for the month of September.

Thank you to everyone who has become a collector of our art, who has come in to 1+1=1 Gallery to look, appreciate, help, buy, and just visit, get/give hugs. We couldn’t have done 11 months without you!

Now we are asking for your help and support again. This time we need cash flow to remodel our new gallery down the street.

Imagine one of my framed prints on a wall in your house … above the fireplace, in your dining room, or on a wall in your bedroom. Somewhere you can see it often, experience the symbolism and the personal meaning that only you get from living with a piece of art. Can you visualize it? Are you interested?

  • Now you can purchase one of my prints — for the month of September only — at a big discount. All of the framed numbered prints we have at our gallery (see thumbnails or Flickr album link below) are on sale — 20% off just through September 30, 2014.
  • The black stained all-wood frames are made by Tim Carney and professionally assembled by a local framer with glass, hanging hardware and archival mats.
  • We are moving at the end of September to a bigger, better space at 434 North Last Chance Gulch. After we move, prices have to go up because our rent and all of our expenses are increasing.
  • We take credit cards through Square and are willing to ship.
  • Link to the album of available prints, with poetic descriptions, print and frame sizes. 
  • Come see the prints in person, at 1+1=1 Gallery, 335 North Last Chance Gulch.

Below are the available prints. We only have one of each on hand, so hurry! Please visit the above link to see more details.

Here are some pre-remodeling views of our new space:


View inside our new gallery space (pre-remodeling) How about that red and black carpet?


This is where 1+1=1 Gallery is relocating — what used to be the old Chinese Healing Arts, then became a bookstore. It’s new incarnation will be a fabulous art gallery!

1+1=1 will be open our usual hours until September 19th. After the 19th, we’ll have odd hours because I’ll be working with Tim (and whoever shows up to help) to remodel the new space. I can be reached by phone (431-9931) if you want to come shop at the gallery at 335 North Last Chance Gulch. I’d love to see you at either place. Or email me if you want to buy one of the prints. Thanks again for all of your support!

Love, Maureen

Collaborative Art Piece Benefits Teen Moms

Girl Power by Maureen Shaughnessy

Girl Power by Maureen Shaughnessy … life-size torso cast, paint, collage, calligraphy and other mixed media. 24 inches x 36 inches in a custom built, plexiglass case

The winning bidder of Girl Power generously donated the piece back to the Florence Crittenton Home and it is on loan to 1+1=1 Gallery to exhibit for the month of September. 1+1=1 will host an open house and artist talk on Sunday evening, September 7th. The gallery is located at 335 North Last Chance Gulch. I would love to see you all there — come down and enjoy some delicious food, beverages and great company.

Whew! Last week I finished Girl Power just in time for the benefit auction for Florence Crittenton. This year was the fourth annual Support Our Girls event in which businesses in Helena contribute whimsical and sometimes fancy “bras” to be auctioned off.

When Florence Crittenton began this event four years ago, I was still working there as the life-skills counselor for teen mothers. Together with the girls who were there at the time, I designed and made a bra for that first auction. It was absolutely beautiful and all of the girls who worked on it were proud of their ideas and contributions. Below are some photos of that very first art-bra, titled Sassy Girls, Marvelous Moms.

Deer Family Detail on Girl Power by Maureen Shaughnessy

Anyway … this year, the benefit organizers invited four artists (in addition to local businesses) to create pieces for the auction. I was one of the featured artists. I created a piece based on the idea of empowering our daughters to be independent, strong, healthy individuals, thus the title Girl Power. It’s really about more than girl-power (read the artist statement below for explanation)

Girl Power

When Carrie asked me to make a piece for the Support Our Girls benefit auction, I immediately thought that instead of making a “bra,” I would like to make an art piece using a torso of a breastfeeding mother. In my mind I named it “Girl Power,” and although that name is whimsical, it is also serious.

Florence Crittenton holds young teen moms in supporting hands while they make critical life choices …. choices for themselves and for their babies. One of these choices is whether to breastfeed their babies or not. When it works out, it is one of the best gifts a mother can give to her newborn. 

Yet, there are many other ways these young mothers rise above their often traumatic beginnings to become capable loving mothers. The Florence Crittenton staff delight in the girls, and hold high standards for them … expecting them to learn, explore, and be successful. Yes, these moms are still girls. They are still children. They are still learning as they raise their own children. It is an awesome miracle and so amazing to watch them as they mature, fall down, pick themselves back up again and hold their babies with love. 

As I thought about all of this I wondered about Girl Power and what we, as parents and caring adults, can teach our daughters — teach all girls — to help them embody their own power. So they can live successful, happy, healthy lives and have strong loving relationships. I realized that no matter what we teach our daughters, we also have to teach our sons to be whole, happy human beings. It doesn’t work to lift up one gender and not the other. 

So I asked my community of friends to contribute to this piece by telling me what they wanted to teach our children … our daughters and our sons. The response was amazing. I received over a hundred comments, many of them from former clients of Florence Crittenton. Reading through them brought tears to my eyes. I could not include every single thought I received in the piece, but I hand wrote as many as I could even inside the torso where you just have to imagine what I wrote.  I hope you also feel the power. Girl Power. Boy Power. The Power of Love. And the Power of Connection. 

The images and personal symbols in this piece come from my own experiences growing up in the 50s and 60s … of learning about and connecting with nature, and of finding my way in life. I believe that it is through a deep connection with all life, that human beings become fully human and truly powerful. I was privileged to work for almost five years as the life skills counselor at Flo Crit, and I hope that in my way I was able to teach the girls something of that connection. 

~ Maureen Shaughnessy

Here are a few more photos showing details of Girl Power

Everyone who comes to the open house on the 7th will have a chance to sign the back of the piece, and add your own thoughts to the text if you want to, and if your contribution didn’t make it onto the front of the piece (I tried to include as many as I could, but there were SO many comments from the community I couldn’t write them all on the front.)

See you on the 7th! (email me with questions:

Noodles the Healthy Way

vietnamese noodle bowlThin, clear rice noodles … a bed of mixed greens, lots of fresh raw vegetables, tofu, maybe some sliced meat, peanuts, fresh herbs and a very light oil-free dressing. Ahhh … a meal from Vietnam-heaven made for warm summer nights!

We have nothing like Vietnamese cuisine in Helena — unless we prepare it at home. I wish wish wish we had a place to grab a bowl of pho or one of these scrumptious noodle bowls. The first time I had pho was in Portland when I was visiting our son, Gabe. Subsequent visits to Portland then had to include either a noodle bowl or pho. Recently I visited some friends in Missoula who like preparing Vietnamese meals and they inspired me to try some at home.

I bought a bunch of amazing herbs, veggies and other greens from our friends’ garden and from the River Farmer’s Market Hmong farmers. All I had was a vague idea of what goes into the sauce for a noodle bowl, so I looked around for recipes, found a few that I tweaked and combined to suit what I had on hand, and came up with one of the most delicious dinners I’ve ever had. Totally worth trying. Totally easy. The most time consuming part is cutting up the veggies.

Vietnamese Noodle Bowl with Chicken and Tofu

Here’s the recipe I came up with:

Vietnamese Noodle Bowl with Chicken and Tofu


  • lots and lots of mixed greens (mustard greens, different lettuces, arugula, spinach, beet greens, mizuna)
  • rice noodles, softened with boiling water (as per directions on package)
  • 1 cup extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 T. peanut or canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 chicken breast
  • 1 T green curry paste
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 inch ginger root, sliced
  • 1 sprig each: fresh mint, basil and cilantro (for the broth)
  • 1 carrot, sliced thinly or julienned
  • 1/2 cup green beans, very lightly cooked (al denté)
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup each red and yellow bell peppers, julienned
  • 1/2 cup crunchy cucumber, sliced
  • roasted unsalted peanuts
  • lots more fresh mint, basil and cilantro (for the top of the noodle bowls)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup broth from cooking the chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1T. fish sauce
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes (cut two wedges for garnishing the noodle bowls and use the rest for the sauce)
  • 1T rice vinegar
  • sweet chili sauce to taste


Prepare the meat: simmer chicken breast covered with water and seasonings (fish sauce, soy sauce, green curry paste, ginger root, a sprig each of the fresh mint, basil and cilantro, white or yellow onion, 2 whole green onions.) About 20 minutes. Remove the meat when it is tender and cooked through. Strain the broth and discard all the herbs and onion. Reserve the broth.

Prepare the rice noodles: bring water to boiling, remove from stove and add rice noodles. Cover and let sit until barely tender (do not oversoak or the noodles will be slimy and limp.) Strain and rinse noodles with cold water. Strain again and set aside.

Prepare the tofu: after cutting the tofu into small cubes, sauté in hot peanut oil with garlic until browned and crispy on the outside.

Prepare the sauces: mix all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until the sugar is dissolved.

Prepare the veggies: do all veggies in separate small bowls, so you can make the noodle bowls beautiful when you put them together. Marinate the carrots, cucumbers and whole green beans in the light vinegar sauce while the meat is cooking.  Slice the remaining green onions really thin. Get your bowl of mixed greens rinsed, spun out and chopped. Slice the bell peppers. Put those in a bowl. Put your mung sprouts in a bowl.

Assemble the noodle bowls: I used large Asian bowls since the noodle bowl was our entire meal and we like lots of fresh greens for dinner. First put in a very large amount of chopped fresh greens. I seasoned the greens with a little of the sauce. Then put in a big handful of cold rice noodles, pouring a little more sauce over the noodles. Next comes the fun part.

Arrange all the different veggies, tofu and meat over the greens and noodles. (You can let people put their own veggies, etc, on according to their tastes) Pour the remaining sauce over all. Then garnish with roasted peanuts, cilantro, basil, mint, slivered green onions, and a wedge of lime. Serve with chopstick and/or a fork. Enjoy.



  •  Thanks to these three sites for the recipe inspiration: Flourishing Foodie; Omnivorous; and Low Fat Vegan Chef.
  • You can make this with meat or without. If you are vegetarian poached eggs are delicious protein with the noodle bowl. If you are vegan, skip the fish sauce too.
  • I loved using a mixture of lots of different greens, but if you want just spinach or lettuce, that’s delicious too.

Summer Garden Painted Tiles

Painted Tile by Maureen ShaughnessyAhhhh…. summer is truly here in Montana. As usually happens, we’re having a cool rainy June. I’m looking forward to July, when our tomato and basil starts finally take off and put on some real growth! Last night we had a caprese salad with pinchings (prunings) from the baby basil plants. I can hardly wait for the tomatoes! yummo

In the meantime, I’m satisfying my desire for colorful garden beds and borders, by doing some wild and crazy teeny tiny paintings. These glazed tiles are so much fun to paint. Plus it’s been kinda cool to have people come into our little gallery and ask to buy them. Below is what the tile looks like framed:

mini painting on tile

So … I decided to offer these for sale. At incredibly affordable prices ($15 or $25) for these mini-artworks. If you are interested in these, go to the Brown Bird Studio Facebook page (below) and take a look at the gallery. I’m trying to keep the album updated as I paint more tiles, noting the sizes prices and whether they have sold or are still available.

Enjoy the colors! I hope these make you smile.

mini painting on tile
Mini Painting by Maureen Shaughnessy

Art Camp for Two

Last week, my young friend, Grace and I invented our own “art camp.” She stayed with me for four nights and we had 3 full days of creative fun. I sure hope we get to do this a couple more times this summer. Hanging out with young people fills my cup, especially when they are as enthusiastic about life and learning and creativity as Grace is. It was super cool that we got to do so many projects and have some adventures just the two of us. Actually, it was three of us — Charlie came along too.

I promised Grace I would teach her how to make a blog post, so I am going to leave the DIY tutorials until she comes back for our next art camp. In the meantime, here are some photos of some of the things we did and made:

Butterfly Heart Swarm by Grace

Painted Tiles

Girl swinging Grace and Charlie

Documenting our Discovery of Ladyslipper Orchids

painted tiles

  • ThaiSaladRollsWithDippingSauce
  • ThaiSaladRolls4-imp
  • ThaiSaladRollsIngredientsWaterEarthWindFire
  • Spring Rolls with Crab
  • ShamanChocolateChunkCookies1-imp
  • Pork Spring Rolls
  • springrolls1-imp

Healthy Low-Calorie Spring Rolls


I love taking spring rolls to potlucks or serving them at gallery receptions. They are as healthy as the ingredients you roll up inside the rice paper wrappers. They require no cooking (unless you opt for vegetarian rolls with steamed spinach — or my favorite — shredded chicken breast marinated in a soy-sesame-ginger dressing.) Anyway, I for this batch, used pre-cooked crab so they were super easy to make.

They’re also unusual at potlucks, so likely to be a big hit. And if there are any leftovers, they’re great for lunch the next day if you wrap them tightly so they don’t dry out.


Get all of your ingredients ready before you start rolling these. Once you get the hang of rolling them tightly, assembly goes quickly. There are different ways to roll spring rolls: two open ends, one open end (as in the photo at top) and closed ends (as in a burrito.) See the notes at the bottom of this post for some links that show how to roll spring rolls.



  • Rice Paper Wrappers
  • Cucumber, peeled and cut into long pieces (I cut the cuke in half crosswise, then seed it, then slice about 1/8 inch thick slices
  • Cooked Crab, Shrimp or Chicken Breast (for chicken breast instructions, see below this recipe)
  • Leaf Lettuce, washed and spun dry in salad spinner
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Basil
  • Green Onions (I use just the green part in the rolls, reserving the white ends for my dipping sauce)
  • Thin Rice Noodles, cooked according to directions, then marinated for about 10 minutes in a soy-mirin dressing, and drained til dry. Cut the noodles into small pieces


  1. Prepare all of your spring roll fillings ahead of time and set on kitchen counter on plates
  2. Fill a large flat container with warm water. This is used to soften your rice paper wrappers, so the container needs to be large enough to accomodate the size wrappers you have. I used 12 inch diameter wrappers, and a 12″ stainless frying pan for my water
  3. Dip each wrapper in the warm water for just a couple of seconds, hold over the water to drain excess water off of the wrapper, then lay it on the counter. (I do two wrappers at a time)
  4. Assemble the fillings in the middle of the top half of the wrapper. I put down the meat and cilantro first because whatever is on the bottom of your pile of filling is what will show on the outside of the wrapper and I think that makes it look pretty.
  5. Put down one piece of crab or a couple of shrimp, a green onion, a couple sprigs of cilantro, some basil leaves, a slice of cucumber, a dab of rice noodles then a large lettuce leaf, torn in smaller pieces.
  6. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper up over the top half, then work from one side and tuck/roll tightly until you have a nice tight roll. The lettuce and green onion can stick out of the top of the roll.
  7. Repeat until you have rolled all your wrappers.
  8. If you have trouble with the wrappers not rolling you may not be waiting long enough for the wrapper to soften before trying to roll it.
  9. If you have trouble with the wrappers tearing when you roll them, you may be putting too much water, or waiting too long and they get too soft, thus tearing. Experiment until it comes easily, because if you do this process enough it’s something you can do in your sleep.
  10. Cover the spring rolls with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. Serve soon after you make them.
  11. Make the dipping sauce. enjoy!



  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 T sugar (or to taste – some like it sweeter)
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes. Serve in small bowls or tiny plates.

Pork Spring Rolls

Here’s a variation on spring rolls … I used leftover grilled pork chops sliced very thin. I rolled these “burrito-style,” with both ends closed, and cut each roll in thirds.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies with a Toddler Tweak


My young friend, Meria was about 3 years old when I recorded her instructions for baking cookies. That was a couple of years ago.

She had just finished helping her mom make chocolate chip cookies and I asked her to tell me the recipe so I could record it. She was exuburant in the telling, to say the least. I love listening to her on this recording (translated below.) The other voices on the recording are mine and my friends voices, Brenda’s and Tiffany’s (Meria’s mom.)

If you have trouble getting the recording to play, try clicking the volume button on the right a couple of times. Also wait a second after clicking the start arrow — it takes a sec to load. 

Ready set go! First you roll roll roll. And you smash smash smash. The cookies are circles. And we make little pieces squish apart.

Fat cookies for big kids and fat cookies for big people. You don’t put m&ms, you put chocolate chips on them.

(Meria kept getting distracted by the needle on the recording device …)

After you make the cookies into circles, you make make make make, then put them in the oven. After they are in the oven you eat them!

(Bit of a discussion about sharing …) Let’s just share. Once I cook them, then I’ll share. I don’t share to boys. I share to girls. I’ll share with Mr. T (one of her favorite adult guys) I’m going to share with Mr. T! I’ll share with Gretchen, and you (Brenda) and you (Maureen) and mom and the new baby.

That’s how you make my cookies! — Meria

I made the cookies pictured above last week and offered them to gallery visitors over the weekend. They disappeared pretty quickly. My recipe is a slight variation on the traditional Toll House chocolate chip cookies. I add twice as many nuts (pecans) as called for in the recipe, decrease the sugar by 1/2 cup, triple the vanilla, add organic coconut flavoring and I use chunks of Extra Dark Shaman Organic Chocolate instead of chocolate chips. These are so scrummy.