White-crowned sparrows: Monochrome Monday

These bold little white-crowned sparrows can raise or lower their “crown”, depending upon their mood. They occur throughout North America, but their bill color varies. It can be orange, yellow, or pink depending upon where they live.

They have a cheery and distinctive song that you may recognize. Listen to it here.

Fringed Gentian: Friday Flowers

Gentian 30May2018

The fringed gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis, grows in meadows, bogs, and on moist ground. This species prefers growing in warm places and it’s common near geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. It is the official flower of the park.

This plant grows to a height of 4-16 inches and blooms in May through August. This annual has purple flowers 1.5-3 inches in length. The showy flowers are fringed along the edges.

Fringed gentians can be found across northern Canada and south through the Rocky Mountains and into parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Native Americans used gentians to treat headaches and as an antidote to witchcraft.

Fun fact: The flowers curl up and close on cloudy days leaving just the tops visible. The closed flowers resemble a small windmill.

A little bird told me my short story won…

Sage Grouse drawings by Siobhan Sullivan April2019
Drawing of a character from my book, Dark Fountain Songs.

I entered a short story I wrote in a local contest and I just found out it took first place in the Children’s Fiction category. Hooray for me! 😀

The short story from my first novel is called How the River of Falls Came to Be and it’s about a little newt who gets more than he asks for. He ends up turning into a tortoise in the desert and he misses the rain.

Here are the last couple of paragraphs:

“Many years later, Tortoise passed away and his shell tipped upside-down and filled with water from passing storms. In fact, the shell caught so much rain it overflowed. The heavy shell eventually sunk and settled deep in the earth. It became the source of a river with many waterfalls. Río de las Caídas.

Sometimes when you walk along the river, you can see the smiles of Rain and Sun in waterfall rainbows. They are showing their gratitude for the gift Tortoise gave to the world.”

I’ll be reading the story I entered in the Central Oregon Writers Guild Contest next month at the downtown library in Bend, Oregon.

Back to work editing my book, Dark Fountain Songs. Maybe I’ll draw some pictures of tortoise to go along with the “award-winning” tale.

A different world-Utah rocks: LAPC

You live in the image you have of the world. Every one of us lives in a different world, with different space and different time.

Alejandro Jodorowsky

The geology of Utah is so unique and interesting. I imagined many details of alternate worlds while visiting there.

Alternate worlds at Capitol Reef NPk 5May2017

The formations at Capitol Reef form thrones ready for giant-sized royalty.

Mountains at  Zion NPk 6May2017

The mountains of Zion National Park look as though they have been compressed, kneaded, and scratched by the claws of big cats

Patterns at  Canyonlands NPk 5May2017

At Canyonlands National Park, an army of stone soldiers is forever frozen in time.

Different worlds at Bryce Canyon NPk 6May2017

A city of towers pushes out the forest at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Patterns at  Arches NPk 3May2017

At Arches National Park, layers of earth tilt and reach towards the sky, hoping they may someday form archways of stone.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Something different

My Mini Mini Aussie Pocket Dog

My Mini Mini Aussie Siobhan Sullivan 29March2019

This mini mini Aussie I painted onto a rock is one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted a mini Australian shepherd and this pocket pet is very low maintenance. 😀

River Ranch Barn – Seasoned by the Seasons: LAPC

River Ranch Barn 30March2018

The River Ranch Barn at Summer Lake Wildlife Area in eastern Oregon is weathered to perfection. Here are a few pictures of its exterior from a distance and close up. Winter Ridge rises majestically behind the barn.

River Ranch Barn roof 30March2018

The shakes of its roof line up in irregular and interesting patterns.

Barn roof close up 30March2018

Here are a couple pictures of an outbuilding next to the barn. The weathered barn wood has a variety of warm tones and a distinct personality all its own.

Outbuilding Close up  30March2018

This pale knotty eye watches the wildlife visiting this oasis in the desert with a look of approval.

Outbuilding Close up Siding 30March2018

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Worn & Weathered

Roses-Summer Blooms & Fall Fruit: Friday Flowers

Roses Blooms 13September2018
Roses Fruit 18October2018

I enjoy watching these roses growing along the Mill A Loop trail along the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon. They produce a bounty in the summer and the fall for walkers and wildlife.

Friday Flowers

Indoors at Fort Rock: LAPC

I’ve featured several outdoor photos taken in and around Fort Rock, but now you’ll get glimpses indoors at the Fort Rock Valley Homestead Museum. Many of these historical buildings were moved here from nearby. The homes and businesses are furnished as they would have been in the early 1900s. This is a place where history truly comes alive.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Marcus Garvey
Indoors at Fort Rock 2 20May2015
 General Store 20May2015
Fort Rock House 20May2015
Bedroom  20May2015
Fort Rock Kitchen 20May2015
Blacksmith 20May2015
 Dining Room 20May2015
School 20May2015
Fort Rock Church 20May2015

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – History

Winter Walks in Bend: LAPC

Winter is a special time of the year here in Bend. Winter walks around the neighborhood are highlighted with landscapes covered in snow and ice.

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.

John Burroughs
Winter Walks Art Station 9March2019

Buildings are blanketed with snow and edged with icicles.

Old Mill, Bend, Oregon 9March2019

Twisting trails are carved through snowdrifts.

Meandering rivers are covered with a cool layer of ice.

Bare branches are clothed in frost and snow.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Around the Neighborhood

Asian New Year Celebration: Lots of Wow!

Asian New Year Celebration 3March2019
A blue lion ready to pounce

Last weekend we attended an Asian New Year Celebration, and the performances we watched were spectacular! This event brought together performances of music, Tai Chi, Parkour, aerial silks, and lion dancing. A local restaurant provided samples of Asian cuisine. There was also a silent auction.

The Chinese New Year started on February 5th and it’s the Year of the Earth Pig. In other years the Pig is associated with Wood, Fire, Metal, or Water. The Pig occupies the last position of the Chinese Zodiac. It symbolizes “carefree fun, good fortune, and wealth” according to Your Chinese Astrology.

Performances at Asian New Year Celebration

Lion Dancers

The celebration featured the lion dance at the beginning and end of this event. The two lions of White Lotus Dragon and Lion Dancers danced to the pounding rhythms. Kids in the audience at this event loved when they got to follow the lions out of the auditorium at the end of the celebration. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this post for an up close look at a lion dancing in the audience.

Lion dances are a traditional dance in China and other Asian countries. They have been around for millennia. In the past, the dance was used to scare away evil spirits. But lion dances were also performed to bring joy, prosperity, and good fortune to events such as celebrating a new year. Dancers emulate the movements of lions in colorful costumes.

Tai Chi

Oregon Tai Chi Wushu gave performances in large and small groups. They balanced the calm and graceful movements of the larger groups with the fast-paced action of smaller groups. One performance had a modern twist with dueling electric guitars. Watch that video below, near the end of this post. The local group includes participants of all ages, even those as young as four years old.

In the past, martial arts were essential for protection in times of war in China. As that need decreased, they recognized the lasting health benefits of this training. Tai Chi is referred to as “meditation in motion.”

Parkour Celebration 10 3March2019
Parkour Celebration 3March2019

Parkour

Members of Abstract in Motion did a lighter-than-air performance of Parkour. Merriam-Webster defines Parkour as “the sport of traversing environmental obstacles by running, climbing, or leaping rapidly and efficiently.” This activity was developed in France in the 1980s. It’s kind of like the moves seen in The Matrix movies without the use of special effects. The performers leaped and flipped and moved in ways that made me wonder if they were mere mortals.

aiko Drumming Asian New Year Celebration 7 3March2019
aiko Drumming Celebration 7 3March2019
aiko Drumming Celebration 7 3March2019

Taiko Drumming

One of the most memorable performances for me at the Asian New Year Celebration was the Taiko drumming of the Portland Taiko group. This group “blends the tradition of Japanese taiko drumming with a sense of Asian American identity, creativity, and empowerment.” Watch the videos to see the sense of joy this group emulates.

Taiko percussion instruments were in use in Japan 2,000 years ago. It’s thought taiko drums were used in communication or religious rituals. They resemble instruments found in China and Korea and may have come to Japanese culture from as far away as India. The idea to play together in Kumi-daiko (a taiko ensemble) was created in the 1950s. Drums range in size from small snare drum-sized up to as large as a wine barrel.

Aerial silks Asian New Year Celebration 15 3March2019

Aerial Silks

Outside the auditorium, Silks Rising gave an aerial silks demonstration. A long piece of silky fabric hung from an open pyramid-shaped structure. A young girl climbed, spun, and dropped on the long piece of fabric in a kind of aerial ballet. I can see why these performances are called “aerial contortion.” Cirque du Soleil invented this art form in 1995.

Until next year’s Asian New Year Celebration…

This celebration packed a lot into two hours. Some performances were slow, quiet, and graceful; others were fast, loud, and full of raw emotion. There was something for everyone here. It’s the 12th year of the Asian New Year Celebration—a fundraiser for Bend Senior High School’s Life Skills Program.

Hope you enjoy watching the videos!

FOWC – Watch

White Sturgeon – A square peg fish: WPC


I immediately thought of this picture I took of a white sturgeon when I saw that this week’s photo challenge at Traveling at Wits End was Something that Doesn’t Belong.

White Sturgeon & trout, High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon 20February2018

In this photo, taken at the High Desert Museum, a young white sturgeon is surrounded by trout. It doesn’t quite fit in.

You might think this odd fish looks prehistoric and you’d be right. Sturgeon existed 200 million years ago, during the Jurassic period.

Though most sturgeon live 11-34 years, they have been known to live up to 104 years (!) They grow to an average length of 6.9 feet and sometimes grow to a length of 20 feet. The maximum weight recorded was 1,799 pounds. In fact, they are North America’s largest fish. So the fish in the picture may look small now, but it has a lot of growing to do!

High Desert Voices Newsletter – March 2019

I’m sharing the March issue of the High Desert Voices newsletter. It’s a newsletter for volunteers and staff at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. I help out with the newsletter and I’m particularly proud of this issue.

High Desert Museum newsletter, High Desert Museum entrance

This issue of the High Desert Voices newsletter includes a History event – 19th Century Making & Mending; Art – a new exhibit by Native American artist, Rick Bartow; Nature – a fact sheet on white sturgeon; People – a profile of our Communication Director; and Recreation – a trail through the colorful Blue Basin. There’s a little more related to updates for the different areas of the Museum and kudos, for work well done.

Enjoy the newsletter! To see more, go to Volunteer Newsletters.

Finding a new world in close-ups: LAPC

When I last visited Yellowstone, I was searching for a new world to inspire me in my fiction writing. Here are some that I found…

New world Artists' Paintpots 2June2018

A new world of waves and wonder

New world at Black Pool 2June2018

A world of contrasting colors

Artists' Paintpots 2 2June2018

A world of muted rainbows

Three Sisters Spring 2June2018

A warm and fuzzy new world

Mud Volcano 30May2018

A cold, colorless, and cracked new world

Grand Prismatic 3June2018

A world where meandering water turns to gold

new world at Anemone Geyser 30May2018

A new world where everyone lives in spherical houses along the shore

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Close-up

Love nature and share the love: LAPC

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Here are a few pictures of wild things resting, feeding, and breeding. They are always reminding me to love nature and share that love with others.

Love Nature Gray wolf, MT 2June2018
Gray wolf

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

George Carlin
Trumpeter swan & mallard, OR 19May2018
Trumpeter swan & mallard

Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.

Hans Christian Andersen
Pronghorn, WY  1June2018
Pronghorn

…When alarmed, their rapid career seems more like the flight of birds than the movement of an earthly being.

George Ord
Love nature, Ospreys on nest, OR 26April2019
Ospreys on nest

It’s not only fine feathers that make a fine bird.

Aesop
Pine siskins, OR 7April2018
Pine siskins

Each bird loves to hear himself sing.

Arapaho

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Nature

Elk of the Shadows: LAPC

Elk in shadow, Wyoming 2June2018

Solitary grazer

Hiding in filtered light

Antlers flocked in

Downy velvet

Oblivious to his

Wonder

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Shadows

Feeling Cheesy? Visit Tillamook Creamery

Sculpture at Tillamook Creamery 12 20June2018

Last June we happened to be in Tillamook, Oregon the day the new Tillamook Creamery visitor center opened.

Tillamook Creamery Visitor Center 20June2018

They have 1.3 million visitors a year and the new 38,500 square foot facility is a welcome addition. The original visitor center opened in 1949. We visited that much smaller center years ago.

Yes, you can still watch them making delicious cheese and get samples, but there’s a lot more there now.

The new displays are interactive and informative.

I loved the layout of some of these displays. Crisp, bold, and bright. They are works of art.

Tillamook County Creamery Association creates the products you find in stores today. This co-op was formed in 1909 and there are almost 100 families in it now.

Store at Tillamook Creamery 11 20June2018

They have a big store with everything from clothing to specialty dairy products.

If that’s not enough, they also have a dining area with several options. You can get ice cream, yogurt with toppings, and a range of other choices. These include everything from tempura battered cheese curds (huh?) to mac and cheese, pizza, sandwiches, and a few breakfast items. I was pleasantly surprised to see the food at the center featured in a funny article in Food and Wine.

If you have the time, this is a stop worth making.

Landscape of Grand Prismatic: LAPC

The water in some of the springs presents to the eye the colors of all the precious gems known to commerce. In one spring the hue is like that of an emerald, in another like that of the turquoise, another has the ultra-marine hue of the sapphire, another has the color of topaz; and the suggestions has been made that the names of these jewels may very properly be given to many of these springs.

Nathaniel Pitt Langford in Diary of the Washburn Expedition to the Yellowstone and Firehole Rivers in the Year 1870.

Grand Prismatic Spring is the crown jewel of hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. The landscape of Grand Prismatic has all the colors of the rainbow. The cracks and tracks add some interesting texture as well. This 370-foot wide spring is the largest in the United States and third largest in the world.

Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Tracks at Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018
Landscape Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 5June2015
Close-up Grand Prismatic Yellowstone National Park 3June2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Landscape

Unusual Clouds Above Bend : LAPC

The sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset, the colour that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.

Ram Charan
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 18October2017
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 25January2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 30September2016
Clouds in Bend, Oregon 6October2017
Unusual Clouds in Bend, Oregon 9November2018

We have many beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Bend, Oregon. Sometimes the unique colors and forms of the clouds are totally unexpected and they’ll take your breath away. Here are a few of those moments my camera allowed me to capture.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unexpected

Blue Basin Trail – Island in Time

Green scenes on Blue Basin trail

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
An otherworldly landscape in Blue Basin

I did this easy hike on the Blue Basin trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument last October. I felt like a stranger in a strange land on this trail through blue-green badlands.  

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
A bench along the trail

The trailhead is 14 miles northwest of Dayville, Oregon. This trail is in the Sheep Rock Unit of the monument. The Island in Time trail is a 1.3 mile long out and back trail with an elevation gain of 200 feet. The Blue Basin Overlook trail also starts here. It’s a 3.25 mile trail with a 760 foot elevation gain. There are several other trails nearby.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Colorful contrasts

The geologic history

The unique blue-green colors of the rock formations in Blue Basin are stunning.  They range from a pale dinner mint green to a darker, bluer green. The blue-green and tan claystones and siltstones are part of the John Day formation.  There were multiple eruptions of Cascade Mountain volcanoes 29 million years ago. The ashfall formed the blue-green layers of this basin. Celandonite and clinoptilolite give these formations their green color.

A shallow creek of green-tinted water

You’ll see impressive tiered layers of rock bordering the trail. At the end of the trail, an amphitheater of colorful stone will surround you. I had the place all to myself on my hike. Rotate your way around this photo sphere to see what I saw.

Blue Basin Lower Trail

I also noticed the smaller landscapes on this trail. Here are a few of those scenes.

Fossil and facts on Blue Basin trail

You will see several fossil replicas covered with protective plastic bubbles along the trail.  They removed the actual fossils to protect them from the elements.  Over 2,000 species of plant and animal fossils have been identified in the vicinity.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Cat-like Nimravids. These cats ranged in size from bobcat-sized to tiger size.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Oreodonts. This sheep-sized mammal was once as common as deer are today.
Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018

Tortoise. This tortoise is like species living today.
A cracked shell may have caused its death.

Map and a word about dogs

Blue Basin map, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
Map of Blue Basin and vicinity

Here’s a map of the Blue Basin. Please note the warnings associated with this trail. In the warmer months of the year, you may see rattlesnakes. In October, I saw none.  Blue Basin experiences high temperatures in the summer months so be prepared.

Blue Basin hike, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon 26October2018
My dog liked this nearby trail better. No bridges!

There are 13 metal grate bridges on this trail. The sign says dogs may refuse to cross and you may have to carry them. My dog would not cross the first bridge.  Sorry, but I couldn’t imagine carrying a 60+ pound dog over 13 bridges.  She waited patiently in the car on that cool day.  

Amazing paleontology center

Don’t miss the amazing Thomas Condon Paleontology Center while you’re here. The displays impress me and I’m always excited to see paleontologists hard at work in the viewing area. I often wonder what new treasures they will uncover in their daily work.

Badgers & Magpies & Leopards, Oh my!

Badgers Yellowstone NPk 13June2011
Badgers at Yellowstone National Park

In The Story Who Came to Visit, I mentioned I would be doing an Open Mic event here in Bend. Yes, it does take a bit of courage to do something like that. Yesterday I read a short piece from the children’s book I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The audience was eager to hear the work of local writers.

I read a story about a bullied girl who finds her courage after talking with a magpie and a badger. They both have hidden weaknesses but found their inner strength. Nuǎn, the main character in the story, finds her strength just when she needs it most. A snow leopard that had attacked her and left her scarred is about to attack another child.

Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

Snow Leopard’s ears perked up, and he turned towards her. “You again, Nuǎn?” He hissed and bared his teeth. “Yeowrrr! I already marked you once. Stay out of my way.” Snow Leopard struck out at her, scratching her arm with his long claws.

“You marked me again!” Nuǎn held her hand over the wound. “The first time you marked me, it made me weak. No more!”

Nuǎn grabbed an ax in the yard and swung it down, chopping off the end of Snow Leopard’s long tail. The big cat yowled in pain and leapt over the fence.

“Now you are marked!” Nuǎn yelled at the leopard as it bounded away.

I have a lot more editing and revising to do, but my work in progress was well received by the audience. 🙂

Back to work…