The softness of snow: MM, SS, & Six Sentence Story

Peering through a branch-lined portal at the softness of snow.

The softness of snow on junipers

Where frosty starbursts emerge from the desert soil.

Bunchgrass covered in snow

And wise elders rejoice, reaching to the sky with arms contorted by the years. Ancient trees collect the bountiful flakes falling from the sky to share.

Ancient juniper tree near Bend, Oregon

They tuck the next generation under downy crystalline blankets. When spring awakens them, they will change into new beings who will continue the cycle and share the softness of snow.

The softness of snow covering pinecones

Monochrome Monday (MM)

Sunday Stills (SS) – Winter Wonderland

Sunday’s Six Sentence Stories – Change

Canada goose sculpture at dawn: Sculpture Saturday

The sun was rising and it was snowing lightly when I walked by this Canada goose sculpture in Bend, Oregon.

Canada goose sculpture at dawn
Sunrise over Canada goose sculpture

Here’s what it looks like with a bit more snow.

"River Geese" by Peter Helze Mill A Loop Deschutes River Trail Art3 2March2018
“River Geese” by Peter Helzer

This life-size bronze sculpture is by artist Peter Helzer. “River Geese” is part of the Art in Public Places initiative in Bend.

Canada goose pair and gosling 3June2017
Canada geese pair & gosling

There are plenty of real life Canada geese in this neighborhood to keep the artwork company. The Deschutes River, and the Bend Whitewater Park, is directly behind this sculpture.

Sculpture Saturday

Western larch – A beauty in gold: Thursday Tree Love

One of my favorite local trees is the western larch, Larix occidentalis. This conifer tree is unique because it drops its needles in the winter. Before they litter the forest floor, the needles turn a distinctive golden-yellow color. They stand out from the deep green shades of surrounding trees.

Western larch near Sisters, Oregon October 2020
Young western larch tree

They have a delicate, almost lacey, growth form. Look at these needles radiating out in little groups of 15-30 on this branch. They are softer and more flexible than some of their pine tree cousins.

A home for wildlife

A wide range of wildlife relies on larch for food and cover. Squirrels feed on the cones and cache the seeds for future use. Songbirds nest and forage in their branches. They are especially important to pileated woodpeckers. This tree is an important food source for several kinds of grouse. Large mammals forage on the needles as a last resort since they are not as tasty as other trees.

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Kitchen at Kam Wah Chung: Monochrome Monday

Kitchen at Kam Wah Chung October 2018

The items of various shapes and sizes in the kitchen of Kam Wah Chung stand out in black and white. I visited the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon a couple years ago. As I described in my post about that experience, it was like stepping back in time. This small building served as a general store, apothecary, doctor’s office, boarding house, religious center, and meeting spot for the Chinese people of the community in the late 1800s. Most worked in mines or on railroad line construction.

The co-owners of this business were Lung On, aka “Leon”, and Ing Hay, aka “Doc Hay.” As a result of their hard work, the business thrived for many years. Lung On passed away in 1940. Ing Hay moved to a nursing home in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The building stood vacant until it was opened in 1967. It contained a treasure trove of artifacts–over 30,000 have been cataloged so far.

Visitors can visit this site with a guide to learn more. It is a fascinating tour, made more interesting by the fact that the owners of this business were directly affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It is a part of history many of us never learned. Seeing a site such as this makes overlooked parts of our history come alive.

For information on tours, visit the Oregon State Parks site. Note Kam Wah Chung is only open seasonally and may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Aspen trees far away & up close: LAPC

Aspen trees in the fall are beautiful from far away and up close. I’m featuring autumn portraits of aspens in central and eastern Oregon.

A far away aspen stand glowing in a blaze of color on Hart Mountain.

Aspen grove on Hart Mountain, Oregon  October

Moving in closer to… an aspen-lined meadow at Aspen Day Use Area near Dillon Falls.

Aspen trees bordering meadow
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Another lovely lichen on the forest floor: Friday Fun

Another lovely lichen

I saw another lovely lichen begging for me to photograph it. This fluorescent green lichen was on the forest floor in a ponderosa pine forest near Sisters, Oregon.

Friday Fun – Lichen

Sheepdog & pine basket: First Friday Art

To help celebrate the holidays this year, I’m sharing two pieces – a sheepdog & pine basket. I painted this Old English sheepdog on a rock for a friend. Doesn’t it look comfortable? This breed’s fluffy coat makes them appear much bigger than they are.

Sheepdog & pine basket

I’m portraying this rock on a small pine needle basket that I usually display on a wall. Though I’ve made pine needle baskets before, I didn’t make this one.

This piece was in an antique store so I don’t know its history. I love the pinwheel pattern in the center. Some unknown artist put a lot of time into creating this basket. Its delicate center, surrounded by the strength of the bundled pine needles, is tied together with radiating lines of tiny stitches.

Pine needle basket

First Friday Art

Hope you liked my sheepdog & pine basket artwork this month. Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

Igneous rocks up close: Macro Monday & SS

The following images of igneous rocks up close were taken in my yard near Bend, Oregon.

Igneous rocks Bend, Oregon November2020

What’s an igneous rock? Geology.com describes them as being “formed from the solidification of molten rock material.” For example, granite, gabbro, basalt, scoria, and obsidian are all types of igneous rock.

Igneous rocks Bend, Oregon November2020

You probably notice some of these rocks have round bubble-like holes in them. These “vesicles” form when gas is trapped within the melted rock at the time it cools and turns solid.

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Finding Fall at Mount Hood – 4 haiku: LAPC, SS, & ST

This year I went on a quest with the goal of finding fall colors. Here’s a 4-part haiku story based on pictures taken on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway in Oregon.

Deep in the mountains
Mount Hood surveys the landscape
Anticipation

Finding fall on Mount Hood Oregon October 2017

Draped in mossy robes
Rooted in shades of autumn
Fall’s gala begins

  • Autumn leaves on Mount Hood Highway September 2020
  • Finding fall in Oregon September2020
  • Along Highway 35 in Oregon September 2020
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Petroglyphs & pictographs in Harney County, Oregon

In April 2019, I went on a field trip to see petroglyphs & pictographs in Harney County, in eastern Oregon. This is one of the many trips offered as a part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Bureau of Land Management archaeologists, Scott Thomas and Carolyn Temple.

One of the first things we learned was the difference between petroglyphs and pictographs.

Pictographs

Pictographs, like the images shown below, are painted onto rocks. These works are generally drawn with red, black, white, or yellow paint.

Pictographs frequently include depictions of animals. For example, the drawing at the top of the picture below appears to be a lizard.

petroglyphs & pictographs, Harney county, OR
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First dusting of snow: Monochrome Monday

First dusting of snow Redmond, Oregon

The first dusting of snow covered this old shed near Redmond, Oregon. Winter is on its way to the High Desert!

Monochrome Monday

Mother Bear in Madras, Oregon: Saturday Sculpture

This Mother Bear sculpture is in a roundabout located in Madras, Oregon. Christopher Buffalo Folsom created this work of art. Can you spot all three of the mother bear’s cubs?

Mother Bear in Madras, Oregon

Saturday Sculpture

On a distant shore: Pull Up a Seat & Haiku Challenge

On a distant shore
Rushing away from the flow
Resting in the ebb

On a distant shore in Northern Ireland
Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland

Pull Up a Seat Challenge #47

Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompts Challenge # 332 Ebb, Flow

Recognizing a place in Placed: High Desert writings

I’m pleased to announce that one of my short stories was recently published in Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon, Vol. 1. This slim volume, however, is not an encyclopedia in the traditional sense of the word. It contains a collection of poetry and prose about this part of the planet. Central Oregon includes sagebrush deserts, thick pine forests, winding rivers, and volcanoes lining the horizon. Placed embraces tales of the wild, but also stories related to unique features – like Ocean Rolls from a local bakery.

Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon

My contribution is The Toad Queen, written after encountering a Great Basin spadefoot toad in my yard. It is one of the most unique things I’ve observed in Oregon – unlike anything I have ever seen. I snapped a couple pictures of it and gently pushed it off the trail. This creature with such an odd appearance and life history deserves a special story.

Unique sights Great Basin Spadefoot Toad 4May2018
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad
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Goldflame honeysuckle up close: Macro Monday

Goldflame honeysuckle

These colorful flowers are on a goldflame honeysuckle plant. Hummingbirds frequently visit this vine’s gorgeous flowers. In North America and Eurasia, 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified.

Macro Monday

In a High Desert yard: LAPC & Weekly Prompts

Like the rest of you out there, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. This week I’m featuring photos taken in a High Desert yard near Bend, Oregon.

If your gaze is focused downward lately, look at the elements of earth in a new light. This layer cake rock is interesting in color and form.

Igneous rock boulder 15November2020

As your gaze moves up, notice the textures you may have overlooked. The multilayered bark of juniper trees always catches my attention.

In a high desert yard May 2020
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My cactus in summer: Friday Flowers & Fan of…

Last weekend I took a picture of my cactus covered with snow. This post shows my cactus in summer. Aren’t they pretty? I’m missing their beautiful blossoms already.

My cactus in summer June 2020
Cholla in bloom July 2020
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Feather on the forest floor: Monochrome Monday

I found a feather on the forest floor in the Metolius Preserve, near Sisters, Oregon. This 1,240-acre Preserve, managed by the Deschutes Land Trust, includes pine, larch, and fir forests.

This feather is about 12 inches long – maybe from a large raptor such as a hawk or owl. The feather rests on a pinecone pillow and bed of ponderosa pine needles.

Feather on the forest floor October 2020

Sepia tone image with selective focus.

Monochrome Monday

In the morning light – 4 haiku: LAPC

In the morning light
Fireworks light up the fall sky
Amazement above

In the morning light sunrise October 2020
High desert sunrise

When the day breaks bright
We find our comfortable place
Basking in its warmth

Pixie-bob cat October 2020
Pixie-bob cat
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A calm jay painting: First Friday Art

California scrub jays are usually a loud and active kind of bird. I shared this painting I did of a calm jay exactly four years ago today after a hectic political season. I wanted to show that a sense of calmness can return even after a time of chaos.

Calm jay by Siobhan Sullivan Oct 2020

The jay pictured above, and the one below, appear calm on the surface. But underneath those calm exteriors, there is a flurry of activity. Their minds are running through a lot of “what ifs” and their bodies are ready to spring into action.

Jay getting a drink

Today we are facing many challenges and “what ifs.” It may be difficult, but I hope you’re able to capture moments of calm, no matter how brief, before you flutter to your next destination.  

First Friday Art

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

Sweet alyssum up close: Macro Monday

This delicate beauty is sweet alyssum. Sweet to see and sweet to smell. Most common as a white flower, this dwarf variety has lavender purple blossoms.

sweet alyssum up close

Macro Monday

The tree people of autumn: LAPC, RDP, & SS

When the warmth of summer slips into the shadows, the tree people of autumn emerge. No one notices them at first. Their queen guides them concealed beneath a cloak of crimson leaves.

The tree people of autumn

The tree people camouflage themselves as creatures of the forest. Their colors shift as their power increases.

Sometimes they appear as deer, leaping through the forest with antlers of glowing gold.

Golden fall leaves reflected image
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A peninsula of flowers: Friday Flowers

A peninsula of flowers

This peninsula of flowers was seen in the Old Mill district of Bend, Oregon. The gardeners do a great job maintaining these picturesque flowerbeds. They brighten up even the darkest of days.

Friday Flowers

Varied thrush drinking: BWPC & SS

I took some pictures of a varied thrush drinking yesterday. I’m posting them for the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge and Sunday Stills challenge. My previous post, Backyard birding adventures, shows other birds in my yard.

One or two varied thrushes always visits us in the fall season. They travel with the American robin flocks.

Varied thrush drinking

You can see how they’re closely related to robins. To hear the eerie song of varied thrushes, scroll down this page to Songs and Calls.

Varied thrush & robins

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – In Your Yard or Garden

Sunday Stills – Kinda Backyard Birding

Backyard birding adventures: BWPC & SS

We have a water feature in our yard so we have lots of backyard birding adventures. This summer I bought a special mount to take digital pictures through my spotting scope. This process is referred to as “digiscoping.” Unfortunately, many of the pictures I first took turned out blurry. I’m having much better luck with my brand new mount.

Here’s a photo of one of our California scrub-jays taken with my Google Pixel phone. Isn’t it a beautiful bird?

backyard birding adventures - scrub-jay near Bend

I used my point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix camera for this one. It was a little tricky to hold it in place on the mount. This a European starling and an American robin.

Starling & robin

We get tons of robins at this time of the year and they chase other birds away.

American robins
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Rounded river rocks haiku: Monochrome Monday

Rounded river rocks

Solitary standing snag

Weaving waterway

Rounded river rocks on Deschutes River

Monochrome Monday

Dillon Falls, Oregon in the Fall: LAPC

We recently took a short drive west from Bend to visit Dillon Falls. Splashes of color border the river near the falls.

Dillon Falls, Oregon

Temperatures were cool and we didn’t see anyone else on this early morning trek.

Dillon Falls, Oregon

The short trail to the falls is lined with manzanita shrubs – one of my favorites! They have so much character.

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Fungie the dolphin: Sculpture Saturday

This is a sculpture of Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who has lived in and around Dingle Bay in County Kerry, Ireland for 37 years. He has brought much joy to visitors and residents over the years. Unfortunately, he has not been seen for over a week. A large scale search is underway.

Fungie the dolphin in Ireland

Fungie holds a place with Guinness World Records for being the longest-lived solitary dolphin in the world. He is thought to be in his forties.

Sculpture in Dingle, Ireland

I am sending good thoughts his way…

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.

Irish Blessing
Dingle Bay, Ireland

Sculpture Saturday

A walk into fall: Pull up a seat challenge

This week I took a walk into fall at Pine Nursery Park in Bend, Oregon. Saw lots of beautiful fall colors and a comfortable bench along the way.

A walk into fall in Bend, Oregon
Pine Nursery Park fall color

Pull up a seat photo challenge Week 43

Golden-mantled ground squirrel up close: Macro Monday

This golden-mantled ground squirrel was not exactly shy. It came right up to me looking for a snack at the High Desert Museum. Yes, it was cute but it didn’t get anything from me besides a photograph.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel October 2020

Macro Monday

High Desert Hideaway Hut: LAPC

High Desert Hideaway hut in Bend, Oregon

I showed you how I created this mural but I didn’t show you the inside of my High Desert hideaway hut. This 8 foot by 16 foot hut used to be a garden shed. We repurposed it into a guesthouse for visiting relatives and a studio space for me.

This $50 thrift shop door we installed is interesting on the inside and outside. What a great find!

  • Thrift shop door
  • Thrift shop door
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Owls in the mist – Images & poem: BWPC

Owls in the mist
glide into view
on silent wings

Owls in the mist, great horned owl 2020
Great horned owl

Pondering us
Through eyes,
Round and wise

Burrowing owl vignette
Burrowing owl
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