Morning clouds over Bend: Skywatch Friday

Morning clouds over Bend, Oregon last Fall in a dramatic High Desert sunrise.

morning clouds over Bend

Skywatch Friday

Storm over Playa : 1-to-3 Photo Challenge

In early June, while participating in a Great Basin Natural History workshop, I took photos of the storm over Playa. Playa, located on the shores of Summer Lake, serves as a retreat for artists and scientists looking for a peaceful place to do their work. They also offer a limited number of workshops.

We had an unusually wet spring here in the High Desert. This photograph shows a big storm over Playa. I stayed in the two-story cabin pictured and had commanding views of the Basin and Range landscape. High winds were pushing dust storms into the air near the lake’s shore.

I’ll be showing how I processed this picture three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. Prior to trying out the various effects, I slightly increased the contrast and brightness.

The first two show the original photograph and the same picture with a Retro effect. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Retro Lab>Process 2. This effect slightly blurs and darkens the edges and increases color saturation. I thought this effect made the center appear brighter and gave the photo a vintage feel.

Storm over PlayaStorm over Playa
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Memorable moments from home: LAPC

Trying to choose only three of my favorite photos for this challenge was very difficult. I decided to focus on memorable moments from home.

The first shows a glorious fall sunset behind my juniper tree muse. I like the combination of color, lightness and darkness, and texture in this photo. The branches of the western juniper tree seem to be directing a symphony of clouds.

best photos dusk desert sky

The second is a close up view of a different juniper tree’s bark. Though some see western junipers as an unwelcome invader in sagebrush habitats, I’m impressed by their beauty. Their rough bark varies in color, as does their wood. Wrinkles add to their character as they age. The birds in my yard are grateful for the shelter and food these trees provide.

memorable moments with juniper bark

The third picture is of my “pet” Cooper’s Hawk. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of her. On this day, she took an extended bath and spent a long time preening her feathers. Her fluffed up feathers, piercing gaze, and stance are not the typical view you get of these raptors. It was one of those memorable moments!

Cooper's hawk visited me

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Picking favorites

Captured sunshine: Macro Monday

These colorful lichens at Lake Abert look like bits of captured sunshine.

Captured sunshine in lichens
Colorful lichens at Lake Abert, Oregon

Macro Monday

Primrose painting, photo, & Poem: First Friday Art

Today I’m sharing a primrose painting, photo, and poem I created. When I was on a field trip in early June, we saw a “field” of this plant in bloom near Crack in the Ground. Tufted evening-primrose, Oenothera caespitosa, usually only bloom at night but on that day, dark clouds filled the skies.

Here’s a watercolor I painted of the flowers.

Tufted evening primrose

And here’s the work in progress in my little studio space.

Studio space

This is the close up photograph I took of these beautiful flowers near Crack in Ground. I’m growing evening-primrose in my landscaping and, so far, the always hungry resident mule deer have not discovered them. 🤞

Tufted evening primrose

Here is a Sijo poem about these remarkable flowers.

Awakened when the moon rises over the silent desert
Flowers in sandy soil open, shining like pale lanterns
Enchanting the world with intoxicating scent, until dawn breaks

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Be sure to include the First Friday Art tag.

First Friday Art

Cactus buds in my garden: Macro Monday

Here’s an up close view of prickly pear cactus buds in my garden. Yes, those spikes are sharp and difficult to weed around, but I eagerly await the day when their delicate yellow flowers unfurl.

Cactus buds

Macro Monday

High Desert voices of the many and the few: LAPC

High Desert voices can be heard throughout Central Oregon if you just pause and listen.

Bold shouts of the many

High desert voices Abert Rim
Lichen-covered boulders at Abert Rim

Quiet whispers of the few

Painted By The Earth Summer Lake, Oregon 30March2018
Stones layered with calcite at Summer Lake

Raucous calls of the many

High desert voices Summer Lake
Waterbird colony at Summer Lake
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Tulips up close: Macro Monday

Here’s a picture of tulips up close growing in my garden. There’s something special about these two flowers.

tulips up close

They are the first to make it to this stage without being eaten by our resident deer!

Mule deer

Macro Monday

The path meanders haiku: Haiku poetry challenge

the path meanders
up a rocky desert butte
embraced by spring clouds

the path meanders Fischer Canyon
Fischer Canyon, Oregon

Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge #407 – Path & Desert

Had too much fun on Earth Day

too much fun dead juniper
Western juniper at Fischer Canyon, Oregon

This western juniper looks like it had too much fun on Earth Day. I think it was trying to sleep it off. 😉

Trees

A tumbleweed snowman: Sunday Stills

I decided to make a tumbleweed snowman from the giant tumbleweed I recently found in my yard. In my previous post, Giant tumbleweed in my yard, I tried to show the scale of this tumbleweed. It measured 7 feet 6 inches across!

Since it’s December, I thought I might as well have some fun with it. We tied it to a tree to keep it from blowing away. I added a smaller tumbleweed to make a head.

 A tumbleweed snowman

It’s kinda hard to see his face so I zoomed in. The branches are spaced far apart on the top tumbleweed so his face is held on with a few twist ties. Can you see his lichen eyelashes and juniper nose and smile?

A crazy snowman
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Past their prime: LAPC

Here in the High Desert, things tend to last well past their prime. Though this old truck shows signs of wear and tear, chances are it still runs.

Past their prime truck

This truck is located on rural property along Deschutes Market Road. This is one of 51 “market” roads in and around Deschutes County. These farm-to-market roads were built following passage of the Oregon Market Road Act of 1919. Prior to their construction, farmers navigated many miles of bumpy, rutted dirt roads to deliver their goods.

old truck

A label on the truck’s door reads S & M, Land & Livestock. I’m not sure if this was a local company. There were many ranching operations in Central Oregon, large and small, in the 1870-1920 pre-Industrial period.

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A desert wander discovery: WPW

On a desert wander, clouds fill my head. A scrub jay calls to me in its raucous voice and my attention shifts. I stumble over a rock, plain and gray. The rock beckons me to pull it from the sandy soil. Just a rock, I think. Dark and hardened, like my thoughts. It’s stuck fast in the soil and I pry it loose with a juniper twig. 

desert wander rocks


I cup the rock in my hand and feel its weight. Though it appeared ordinary in the soil, it is not. Other hands have held this rock. They chipped away the darkness to reveal a shining edge. My fingers trace its sharpness; an unforeseen treasure from the past brought to light. My desert wander turns to wonder. As dawn breaks, the clouds lining the horizon disappear.

High desert rock from past
High desert rock

Weekly Prompts Wednesday – Unforeseen

High Desert Clouds-Clogyrnach Poem: LAPC

High desert clouds fill the dawn sky
Graceful brushstrokes conceived to fly
Drifters over earth
Interspersed cloudbursts
Dusk desert, glowing high

High Desert clouds
North of Steens Mountain
Near Malheur NWR
High Desert clouds

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Inspiration

Weekend Sky #36

Movin’ down the road in Harney County, Oregon: LAPC

When you travel the backroads in this part of the country, it’s not uncommon to see cattle herds movin’ down the road guided by cowboys. We saw a couple cowboys on horseback moving this herd near Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Cattle in Harney County

You’ll see dust clouds long before you see the animals.

Movin' down the road

The cattle often stop in the road until they are pressured into moving. Watch for signals from the horseback riders to their dogs herding the cattle. Do your best to stay out of their way.

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Pink flowers in my yard: Sunday Stills

Today I’m featuring portraits of pink flowers in my Bend, Oregon yard. All of these plants are drought tolerant, once established.

The first photo is an ice plant. This groundcover has cheerful starburst flowers and succulent leaves. The leaves turn a bronze color in winter. We had an escapee take root in another part of our yard and it survived without watering.

Ice plant

The second plant is a Woods’ rose. This native 2-5 foot tall shrub attracts bees, butterflies, and birds. Red rose hips develop once the flowers lose their petals.

Pink flowers of Wood's rose
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Colorful lichens up close: Macro Monday

These colorful lichens are growing on a rock in my High Desert yard. So much variety in a tiny landscape!

Colorful lichens up close

Macro Monday

Warner Wetlands-Wonderful throughout the year: LAPC

The Warner Wetlands of south central Oregon are beautiful throughout the year. I dug into my archives to find photos taken long ago there, supplemented with a few recent ones.

You can view wispy sunsets over the wetlands in the summer.

Warner Wetlands view in the summer

Moody cloudscapes over them in the spring.

Warner Wetlands in Oregon

Snow and ice covering them in the winter.

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Colorful lichen up close: Macro Monday

Colorful lichens up close

A rainbow of colorful lichen up close. These lichens grow on the rocks in my High Desert yard. Though they are small, they have a big presence

Macro Monday

Following Pronghorn: LAPC & WWP

I’ve been following pronghorn for years. They have much to teach us.

following pronghorn near Great Basin Npk

A restless past

In the distant past, I was always restless, bounding from place to place, relationship to relationship. Once I started sensing my roots taking hold, I would break free, fleeing restraints. I sprinted towards the next place or person. Like an animal being pursued by a predator, I found it easier to run.

Grazing pronghorn buck in Yellowstone

Following Pronghorn

One day I started thinking of pronghorns, those iconic creatures of the Wild West, differently. Maybe I could learn something from them. They are a one-of-a-kind animal, not quite fitting into any family. I felt that way too and I began following pronghorn.

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Wildflowers in the Desert – Nonet poem: LAPC & SS

Wildflowers in the desert sunshine
Emerging in harsh conditions
Shining with an inner light
Colorful expressions
Jewels in the sand
Ephemeral
Presences
Fleeting
Views

Wildflowers in the desert photographs taken at Gray Butte, Oregon in the springtime.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Colorful April

Sunday Stills – Emerging

Spring birds: Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.

Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.

Spring birds California scrub-jay

I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.

Tundra swan in Bend, Oregon

For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.

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The Lost Forest – A short story: LAPC & SWP

When I was a young child, my grandfather often told me the tale of the Lost Forest. Here is how he told it…

Lost Forest in Oregon

The people of the village disliked them for their beliefs, distrusted them for their appearance, so they fled. The villagers pursued them so they ran faster and faster.

They paused on a faraway hill and sought shelter beneath the sagebrush. The pursuers shouted in the distance. Unsure what to do, they became a part of the environment.

Ponderosa pine bark

One by one, they stood still and extended their arms with palms tilted upward. Long green needles sprouted from their fingertips. Puzzle-like bark crept over their skin. They wiggled their toes and pale white roots snaked their way into the soil. A shudder ran through their bodies and branches poked through their buckskin clothing.

And then they grew. They shed their human form and grew taller and taller.

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Rough & rippling bark: Macro Monday

Close up view of rough & rippling bark of a western juniper tree near Bend, Oregon.

Rough & rippling bark of juniper

Macro Monday

Softness in the skies haiku: LAPC & SS

softness in the skies
adrift over layered tuff ring,
white veils eclipse sun

Skyscapes from Fort Rock, Oregon.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

Sunday Stills – Things that are white

Old one’s last winter haiku: Haiku Prompt Challenge

Old ones last winter

bound by ancient roots
branches sway in desert winds
old one’s last winter

Ronovan Writes Haiku Prompt Challenge – Bound and sway

Favorite songbirds of Central Oregon: Bird Weekly

I have many favorite birds, but today I’m turning my lens towards favorite songbirds that live near me in Central Oregon.

The first bird, is a sage thrasher. Plain of feather, these birds have a lovely melodic song. Thrashers are one of the songbirds of the sagebrush sea that I studied for my graduate work. They are a canary in a coal mine kind of bird.

Favorite songbirds Sage thrasher
Sage thrasher

The second bird is a varied thrush. They look like a robin with a mask, necklace, and checkered wings. I love their haunting song.

Varied thrush
Varied thrush

The third bird is a California scrub jay. These bold birds have expanded their range. They’re entertaining to watch and hear.

Favorite California scrub jay
California scrub jay
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Juniper caught misty moon poem: Monochrome Monday

Juniper caught misty moon on a chill winter night
Struggling to escape, moon gave up on the fight

Juniper caught the misty moon

Scrub jays gathered atop the great tree
Pecking and prodding until moon was set free

scrub jays infrared

Monochrome Monday in infrared

Yew branches up close: Macro Monday

Yew branches August 2020

This yew plant in my garden measured three feet in height for many years. I don’t think it was fond of our High Desert temperature fluctuations. Last year it finally grew taller so now it’s almost five feet tall.

Yesterday I caught one of our resident “landscapers” chewing on the new growth. Guess he thought it needed a trim. 😉

Buck mule deer

Macro Monday