Rainy view of otters: Pull up a seat challenge

Log bench shaded by tree at High Desert Museum, Bend Oregon October 2019

I had a rainy view of otters from this log bench shaded by a red-leaved tree. The otters at the High Desert Museum seem to have fun no matter what the weather is.

Rainy view of otters at High Desert Museum, Bend Oregon October 2019

Pull up a seat challenge

Covered in coldness poem: LAPC

Covered in coldness
Obscured from view
Layered in lightness
Dazzling and new

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Cold

Sunflowers & Stagecoaches at the Steens

Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.

Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!

Common sunflower

The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.

Sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

These leggy plants grow 1.5 to 8+ feet tall and bloom from July through October. Their iconic flowers actually have two kinds of flowers. The yellow “ray” flowers look like petals but each is an individual flower. The “disc” flowers, at the center of the brown head, are usually small. If you magnified your view of the center of the flower, you would see that each of these disc flowers had five petals. The alternate leaves, and the main stem are covered in coarse hair.

Common sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

The value of sunflowers

Sunflowers are valuable to both wildlife and people. The seeds are sought out by many species of birds. Do you have sunflower seeds from the cultivated variety of sunflower in your bird feeder? If you do, you know how much birds and other wildlife enjoy eating them.

Now on to how this plant is used by humans. Wow! Where do I start?

You have probably munched on sunflower seeds, but did you know the yellow flowers are also edible? They make a colorful addition to a salad.

Historical uses

In July of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri River in Montana and recorded these observations on sunflowers.

The sunflower is in bloom [NB: Copy for Dr. Barton ] and abundant in the river bottoms. The Indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope.    they most commonly first parch the seed and then pound them between two smooth stones untill they reduce it to a fine meal.    to this they sometimes mearly add a portion of water and drink it in that state, or add a sufficient quantity of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eate it in that manner.    the last composition I think much best and have eat it in that state heartily and think it a pallateable dish.

There are many medicinal uses of this annual plant. Flowers were used for heart problems and in treating burns. Roots were used in treating blisters and snakebites. Native Americans made a leaf tea to treat lung ailments and high fevers. A poultice was applied to snake and spider bites. Seeds were used as diuretics and to help heal coughing.

Some current uses

In addition to the historical usages, sunflowers are used in creating dyes, soap, cattle and chicken feed, and a fine silky fiber, similar to hemp. Sunflower oil is widely consumed in both North America and Europe.

Fun Fact: Some Native Americans believed sunflowers were a symbol of courage. Warriors would carry sunflowers cakes with them into battle. Hunters would sprinkle themselves with sunflower powder to keep their spirits up.

Sunflowers & stagecoach stop

So now you know more about sunflowers, but why is this post called Sunflowers & Stagecoaches? While taking pictures of the sunflowers, I remembered to look for an old stagecoach stop I had seen on a Circling Steens Mountain birding field trip. Ah ha! Found it. See the dark spots in the middle of this photo? Those are the remnants of a stagecoach stop.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Here’s a closer look. The crumbling rock walls are all that’s left of this stop.

Stagecoach stop at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Stagecoach travel

In the late 1800s to early 1900s, stagecoach routes crisscrossed the West. On the more heavily traveled routes there were stops every 25 miles or so. Why that distance? That’s about how far a team of horses pulling wagons full of goods and passengers could travel. Their progress was slow due to difficult terrain and weather that could quickly change from scorching heat to bone-chilling cold.

Some of these stations were just for changing horse teams while others had accommodations available for travelers. The stops in Fields and Frenchglen offered more options for weary travelers. One stop near the one pictured above charged 25 cents for overnight lodging and meals. The charge for the care of each horse was an additional 25 cents.

Travel along these stagecoach routes was not fast. For example, the east-west route from Ontario, Oregon to Burns, Oregon took approximately 40 hours. Today that 130-mile route takes 2 hours 12 minutes. But imagine all the sights those early travelers must have seen on those slow journeys…

A marvelous moth at rest: SMM

A marvelous moth in Nevada May2017
Glover’s Silkmoth Hyalophora columbia gloveri

I saw this marvelous moth near Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. What a beauty! 😀

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Watching & waiting for clouds: LAPC

Watching & waiting for clouds

Turning the sky into a color collecting kaleidoscope

Watching & waiting for clouds over Bend, Oregon 2August2014

Expressing their thoughts with fiery punctuation

Orange clouds in sunrise over Bend, Oregon 12October2014

Or softening their words in pastel tones

Pastel sunrise over Bend, Oregon 13July2014

Watching & waiting for clouds

Painting the world with their bold thoughts

Colorful sunrise over Bend, Oregon 15October2015

While gazing at us through eyes lined in brilliance

Watching& waiting for clouds. Bend, Oregon 6January2018

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC): Waiting

Teepee made from tules: Monchrome Monday

This teepee made from tules is a re-creation of what Native Americans of Central Oregon once used as a home.

Teepee made from tules, Bend, Oregon October 2019

Tule bulrushes (pictured below at Hosmer Lake) grow along the shores of lakes, ponds, and waterways.

This plant was used to make teepees, baskets, mats, bedding, footwear, and clothing. Tules were also used medicinally, as a source of food, and in making boats.

Bright bouquets of fall foliage poem

Bright bouquets of foliage near Sisters, Oregon October 2015
Fall colors near Mt Hood, Oregon October 2019
Fall's finery near Benham Falls, Oregon October 2014
Bright bouquets of foliage at Old Mill district in Bend, Oregon October 2019

Autumn
is bright bouquets
shining in fading light
warming our souls through the winter
season

All Seasons Photo Challenge

A black & white world – 4 haikus: LAPC

In a black & white world, everything is laid bare for all to see.

A lack of color
Highlights drama in the skies
In brilliant detail

A black & white world, A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon August 2019
A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon

A lack of color
Gives expression to patterns
Often unobserved

California quail near prickly poppy, Bend, Oregon May 2017
California quail near prickly poppy

A lack of color
Reminds us of distant times
Dimming yet dazzling

A black & white world, Shaniko, Oregon May 2018
A side street in Shaniko, Oregon

A lack of color
Brings fading autumn blossoms
Back to vivid life

Autumn hops blossoms, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Autumn hops blossoms

In a black & white world, the loss of color can often lead to seeing things in a new light.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Monotone

Blazing star beauties: Friday flowers

Blazing star beauties in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Wildflowers blooming on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Pilot Butte view in Bend, Oregon August 2019

I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.

Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.

They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.

Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.

Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).

They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.

Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.

Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.

With two you can… : LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Seeing Double. Sometimes two heads are better than one.

With two you can share your wisdom.

With two you can share wisdom. Burrowing owls at High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon 2016
Burrowing owls

With two you can have differences of opinion…

Ospreys nesting along the Deschutes River, Bend, Oregon 2018
Ospreys

But learn to work together in the right direction.

With two you can go in the same direction. American avocets near Malheur NWR, Oregon 2019
American avocets

With two you can brave the elements together.

With two you can brave the elements. Moss-covered hemlocks at Mt Bachelor, Oregon 2016
Mountain hemlock

With two you can reflect the best in each other…

Bitterroot flowers in bloom near Chimney Rock, Oregon 2016
Bitterroot

And learn to function as one.

Yellow bells near Malheur NWR, Oregon 2019
Yellow bells

Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Seeing Double

Stories within the layers of stone: LAPC

Sometimes I look at layered rock formations and imagine stories within the layers.

This formation at Fort Rock looks like the giant prow of a ship bursting through the cliffs.

Stories within the layers, Fort Rock 10 June 2016

A closer look shows where the water levels were before the ship drained the basin.

Rock formation at Fort Rock, Oregon 10 June 2016

This jumbled formation at Malheur NWR looks like it was made by a giant who was in a hurry.

Rock formation at Malheur NWR, Oregon 8April2016

But a closer look reveals the perfect spot for great horned owls to raise their young and protect the land.

Stories within the layers at Malheur NWR, Oregon 8April2016

This Painted Hills formation looks like an immense shark swimming through the hills causing a commotion.

Painted Hills, Oregon 25October2018

A closer look shows some of the magical green stones left in its wake.

Painted Hills, Oregon 25October2018

There are stories within the layers that you can learn if you just pause to look and listen.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Layered

Candids of Critters: LAPC

Sometimes you get lucky when you’re taking candids of critters. This little burrowing owl gave me a knowing wink right when I took its picture.

Candids of critters. Burrowing owl blinking. Oregon

We visited the Caswell Sculpture Garden in Troutdale, Oregon a couple days ago. This sculpture of two great blue herons is right by the entrance.

Great blue heron sculpture by Rip Caswell, Troutdale, Oregon

I noticed a movement near the willows right behind this sculpture. I spied a real great blue heron!

Great blue heron, Troutdale, Oregon

This ground squirrel didn’t want me to know where it was hiding its cache. It had so much in its cheek pouches it could barely walk.

Candids of critters. Ground squirrel, Bend, Oregon

These spotted pigs look content in this shot, but one of the piglets had just escaped its enclosure. I scooped it up and returned it to its family.

Pig and piglets. Hood River, Oregon

There are lots of opportunities to take candids of critters right on our property. This morning I was out walking my dogs and I noticed this orange tabby cat. He blended in so well with the plants around him that my dogs didn’t even notice him.

Orange tabby hiding in the weeds Bend, Oregon

I took this candid shot of my dog, Shelby, relaxing on the window seat. See her ball right next to her head? She is dreaming of when she can play fetch again. 😀

Candids of critters Dog sleeping with ball

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Candid

Furry & Feathered Frame Fillers: LAPC

I decided to feature some furry & feathered frame fillers for this week’s lens-artists photo challenge. The challenge is Filling the Frame. Here are some photos I took at Yellowstone National Park.

This high-flying eagle is in a small museum near Fishing Bridge. It looked so real swooping over our heads.

furry & feathered, Bald eagle, Yellowstone National Park

We saw this pronghorn buck near Mammoth Hot Springs. Most people drove right past him. You have to learn to look for pieces that don’t quite fit into the landscape puzzle to spot wildlife.

Pronghorn buck reclining, Yellowstone National Park

This killdeer almost looks like a museum mount but we saw it near Dragon’s Cauldron defending its territory.

furry & feathered, killdeer at Yellowstone National Park

This coyote was in the museum at Mammoth Hot Springs. It was an interesting mount. Lots of action.

Coyote mount , Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

This raven kept an eye on me when I hiked to Morning Glory Geyser — one of my favorite places in Yellowstone. This raven and a companion had just taken a bath in the hot spring in the background.

Raven near Morning Glory, Yellowstone National Park

This gray wolf rested in the sun at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Visitors get up close looks at native wildlife and learn what to do to preserve it for future generations.

Furry & feathered, Gray wolf at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, Montana

Even if you don’t have a giant telephoto lens, there are great opportunities to capture furry & feathered frame fillers at Yellowstone.

One smart squirrel: Fan of… & AOTD

I watched one smart squirrel figure out how to get around the “squirrel-proof” cover on this bird feeder. It knocked seeds to the ground and feasted on them. Clever little creature.

Chickaree squirrel, High Desert Museum, Oregon
One smart squirrel, High Desert Museum, Oregon

I watched squirrels at other feeders here on another day and they gave me quite the scolding. Here’s a short poem I wrote about them.

Fan of… #35 ; AOTD

Revisiting Steens Mountain: LAPC

On a recent trip revisiting Steens Mountain, I thought back on what this place looked like decades before. When I got home, I browsed my photos and realized several pictures I took on this trip were taken in nearly the exact same spot.

Places seem to me to have some kind of memory, in that they activate memory in those who look at them.

W. G. Sebald

Some places call you back to them. While revisiting Steens Mountain this summer, I realized it is one of those places for me.

Here are a few “then” and “now” pictures I took of the Steens.

East Rim Steens Mountain Oregon
Then: From the East Rim with the Alvord Desert in the background
Revisiting Steens Mountain, Oregon
Now: From the East rim with the Alvord Desert in the background
Driving east from Hart Mountain, Oregon
Then: The road east to Steens Mountain, Oregon
Revisiting Steens Mountain
Now: The road east to Steens Mountain
Kiger Gorge, Steens Mountain, Oregon
Then: Kiger Gorge
Kiger Gorge, Oregon 28August2019
Now: Kiger Gorge

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a Place

Friday Flowers with a Friend

Friday lowers with a friend

I’m treasuring Friday flowers with a friend before the weather changes. It was warm and sunny here yesterday but snow is predicted this weekend. The weather in the high desert is always interesting. 😁

Friday Flowers

Camp Hart Mountain: Monochrome Monday

Camp Hart Mountain, Oregon 27 September 2019

Camp Hart Mountain was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and operated from 1937 to 1941. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge , established in December of 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped protect pronghorn antelope.

The CCC crew stationed at Camp Hart Mountain helped with many projects such as building roads, stringing telephone lines, and building new structures. After their work was completed, most of the buildings at the camp were taken down. The building in the distance was the infirmary and it’s the only historical building remaining at this site. There is currently an RV campground located here.

By the way, I worked at Hart Mountain years ago and saw pronghorn regularly. Here’s a story of one such encounter.

In this land…Oregon countryside : LAPC

In this land near Diamond, Oregon 29August2019
Near Diamond, Oregon

In this land, Nature weaves colorful tapestries into the earth and sky

Pronghorn buck, Hart Mountain
Pronghorn buck, Hart Mountain

And creates havens for its creatures to pause and rest

In this land, Alvord Desert, Oregon 28 August 2019
Alvord Desert

In this land, pale sandy deserts settle in some basins

Warner Valley, Oregon 27 August 2019
Warner Valley

While water collects in others

In this land, Hart Mountain, Oregon from the west 27 August 2019
Hart Mountain viewed from the west

In this land, mountains tilt and rise above sagebrush plains

Big Indian Gorge, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019
Big Indian Gorge, Steens Mountain

Where glacial sculptors carve them into works of art

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Countryside/ Small towns

California Quail near Winter Ridge: BOTD

California quail near Winter Ridge in Central Oregon. 30 March 2018.
California quail near Winter Ridge in Central Oregon. 30 March 2018.

This lone California Quail perched on a fence post near Winter Ridge and called loudly. Listen to the distinctive Chi-ca-go call of the California quail.

All About Birds describes this bird as “a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping head plume.” A great description of this bird!

I’m lucky that they are common where I live and sometimes even show up in my garden.

Granny Shot It – BOTD

Magic in the Wind Haiku: LAPC

Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind. Windmill in Fort Rock, Oregon 30May2019
Windmill in Fort Rock, Oregon 9June2016

Magic in the wind
Pushes whirling windmill blades
Creating power

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical

When the flower blossoms: Sunshine’s Macro Monday

When the flower blossoms

When the flower blossoms, the bee will come.

Srikumar Rao

Sunshine’s Macro Monday

Killdeer in the rushes: BOTD

Killdeer in the rushes, Yellowstone National Park 30May2018

Killdeer in the rushes bordering a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I assume they have tough feet since we saw them regularly wading into the hot springs in various locations.

Granny Shot It – BOTD

Flying Saucer Cloud: Monochrome Monday

Flying saucer cloud, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019

I saw this flying saucer cloud hovering near Steens Mountain a few days ago. I see why lenticular clouds, like this one for example, are often called UFO clouds.

Monochrome Monday

Mellow fellow, Calypso Blue: LAPC

I dug through my archives to find pictures of this mellow fellow we once had as a pet. Calypso Blue was a miniature horse and he measured 32 inches at his withers. He was one of the mellowest horses I ever met. His companion, Scooby, pictured here, was a lot more feisty.

Mellow fellow miniature horse 9January2019

I’m posting these because I noticed that one of the Icelandic horses in Leya’s post on the Precious Pets photo challenge looked a lot like Calypso Blue.

Mellow fellow is a photograph of a miniature horse

I think I took these photos on the day we bought him. It took a LONG time to brush out that mane and tail.

Photograph of a miniature horse

It’s hard to tell in these photos, but underneath all that mane he had piercing blue eyes. We sold him when we moved. This mellow fellow went to a home with a little girl who showered him with affection.

Peaceful pets at rest: LAPC

This post shows peaceful pets at rest in our home. Yes, they can be very active, but these pictures focus on their time asleep.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France

Taking a little cat nap

Peaceful pets. Cat asleep on a dog bed 13 June 2016
Motor sound asleep

Our cat, Motor, was very happy to see I bought a new dog bed. He was the first to try it out.

Two cats asleep in a La-Z-Boy chair
Lazy boy (and girl) in the La-Z-Boy chair

In this picture, Motor is doing his best imitation of a waterfall. Kitty can’t bear to watch this cliffhanger.

Peaceful pets. Cat sleeping on computer tower
Kitty sleeping on the computer tower

She likes to sleep on top of the warm computer tower. Sometimes Kitty sleeps so soundly she rolls right off.

This is the expression she gave me when she learned I bought a new camera. I think she was less than thrilled.

Cat and dog asleep together on one bed
Tesla and Kitty sharing a bed

Our peaceful pets get along well. Tesla and Kitty sometimes sleep on the same bed.

Kitty is a Pixie-Bob cat. This breed is known for its “dog-like personality.” She’s taking that part a little too seriously in this picture.

Kitty, like other Pixie-Bobs, loves to play fetch. Pixie-Bobs can also be trained to walk on a leash.

Dogs having their day

Peaceful pets. Tesla the dog in front of a Tesla car.
Two Teslas at rest

Tesla, the dog, gives a big smile as she rests in front of Tesla, the car. Like her namesake, she can run fast and last a long time on a charge.

Two dogs resting on the grass
Tesla teaching Shelby how to play “Dog”

Our new dog is named “Shelby.” Both of our dogs are rescue dogs. Tesla is in the process of showing Shelby how to be a dog.

Dog rolling on its back in the grass
“You mean like this?”

After that lesson, she got the hang of it!

Peaceful pets. A dog resting on a patterned carpet
Shelby taking a well-deserved rest

I think sometimes the best training is to rest.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Precious Pets