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

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

If you would like to help support the writing community that contributed to this project, please consider purchasing Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon, Vol. 1 from Amazon or local booksellers. There are plans in the works to eventually create additional volumes.

Special thanks to local writers extraordinaire, Ellen Santasiero and Irene Cooper, for their work on this project. Thanks also to Sarah Cyr, Cat Finney, and Shelby Little for helping bring this project from an idea to an eventuality.

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

Though we can’t be together right now, we get the opportunity to watch those who can. These Eurasian collared doves are sharing a tender moment.

Eurasian collared doves May 2020

We can smile at those taking advantage of the situation. These two mule deer bucks are pausing to share a drink while my dogs are inside.

In a High Desert yard - 2 bucks September 2020

And when all seems bleak, we may be rewarded by lightness at the end of the day. Spectacular sunsets are a surprise worth waiting for.

In a High Desert yard - sunset October 2019

If we keep looking up, things should get better. In a High Desert yard, this splash of color emerged after a dark storm – a special gift from Mother Nature. πŸ˜€

Rainbow over junipers June 2020

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Found in the neighborhood

Weekly Prompts Weekend Challenge – The Gift

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

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

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.

Manzanita shrub October 2020

Tangled Ponderosa pine branches also caught my attention.

Ponderosa pine branches

The Deschutes River winds its way through colorful foliage and cascades through lava rocks. Newberry National Volcanic Monument is located just east of the falls. The Lava Lands Visitor Center (opened seasonally) gives visitors all kinds of info about this region.

Deschutes River rapids

We visited Dillon Falls as a treat for my birthday. Here’s a short video taken from the top of the falls and panning to the south. It’s a peaceful spot to see some of our local wonders.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – What a Treat!

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

Wooden wheels: Monochrome Monday

These wooden wheels are featured in a display at Baker Heritage Museum in Baker City, Oregon. This museum offers visitors glimpses of everyday objects from another time.

Wooden wheels Baker City, Oregon

Monochrome Monday

Brilliance of the Desert: One Word Sunday

Last summer we took a trip to southeastern Oregon where we saw the brilliance of the desert.

Contrasting colors atop 9,733-ft Steens Mountain.

Brilliance of the desert - Steens Mountain August 2019

Colorful soils rounding a bend.

Southeastern Oregon Road

Rabbitbrush in bloom near Big Indian Gorge.

Brilliance of the desert, Big Indian Gorge, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019

Mountain mahogany trees growing on a ridgetop.

Mountain mahogany at Steens Mountain

Some think of deserts as dull and boring. However, if you look at things in a different way, you’ll witness the brilliance of the desert.

One Word Sunday – Bright

Avocets in the Spring & Fall: BWPC

The Bird Weekly Photo Challenge this week is birds whose names start with an ‘a’. I’m sharing photos of American Avocets I took in the spring and fall.

I saw these two avocets in April during the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. These flooded fields are north of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, near Burns, Oregon.

The Migratory Bird Festival was cancelled this year so I had to look in my archives for these photos. One of my favorite field trips in past years was the Circling Steens Mountain Tour. Lots of opportunities to see birds of the shore, fields, and mountains.

Avocets near Burns, Oregon April 2019
Flooded fields south of Burns, Oregon April 2019

Avocets look much different in the fall. Their cinnamon-colored plumage fades to black and white.

I saw these avocets in November at Summer Lake Wildlife Area in Central Oregon. Can you see the dust storms in the distance? I have featured Summer Lake in several past posts. It’s a great place to see waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds.

Avocets near Summer Lake, Oregon November 2017
Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Oregon November 2017

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge (BWPC) – Birds starting with an ‘a’

Rockridge Park – Trails & More: LAPC

Rockridge Park, in northeast Bend, is a nice place for walks and more. Bend Park and Recreation preserved features of High Desert habitat in this 36-acre park and added a few unique activities. It’s one of 82 parks in the city.

You’ll see a “forest” of juniper tree trunks near the small parking area. This play area for kids includes black “talk tubes” that connect underground. Primitive cell phones. πŸ˜‰

  • Rockridge Park in Bend, Oregon October 2020
  • Play area in Bend, Oregon October 2020

I’ve been keeping an eye out for fall foliage and this park had several colorful trees. The maple trees are beginning to turn red and the paper birch leaves are turning a lovely shade of gold.

  • Fall maple trees October 2020
  • Fall birch trees October 2020

The trails in this park include a paved one-mile+ trail and more than a mile of unpaved bike trails. The beginner and intermediate bike trails include boardwalks and other obstacles.

Bike trails in Rockridge Park Bend, Oregon October 2020

There are several comfortable benches along the trails.

Bench in a Park Bend, Oregon October 2020

The playground is located along the southern edge of the park. There’s a 9-hole disc golf course in another section.

Playground in Bend, Oregon October 2020

This park also has an 11,000-square foot skatepark with a curving “lunar -landscape” design.

  • Rockridge Skatepark in Bend October 2020
  • Rockridge Skatepark in Bend October 2020

For those of you with canine companions, Rockridge Park is a good place for a SASS walk. Stop And Smell Stuff!

A dog walk in Bend October 2020

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – A Photo Walk

Nasturtium blossoms up close: Macro Monday

Nasturtium blossoms up close

Bright nasturtium blossoms up close in our High Desert garden. These flowers look pretty and they taste good. They have a distinctive spicy flavor.

Macro Monday

American kestrel study in pencil: First Friday Art

American kestrel study

This month, for First Friday Art, I’m sharing an American kestrel study I drew in pencil. When I took an ornithology class in college we learned about anatomy by studying specimens in a museum.

These sketches helped me learn more about birds, but they also turned out to be great tools for future works of art. I have referred back to them when working on pen-and-inks and paintings.

Here’s a photo of an American kestrel I saw in Malheur National Forest last year. They have beautiful coloring.

Kestrel in Malheur National Forest, Oregon April 2019

Do you have some artwork you would like to share? Use theΒ First Friday Art tag.

Shooting stars up close: Macro Monday

Shooting stars up close

Shooting stars up close. Wildflowers blooming on Glass Buttes in the High Desert of Oregon.

Macro Monday

Vaqueros – Tools of the trade: Monochrome Monday

Tools of the trade vaqueros Oregon April 2019

Vaqueros, otherwise known as buckaroos, worked the range in eastern Oregon for many years. The spurs and ring bit pictured were handcrafted by a silversmith in Mexico, circa 1750.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

These pieces are on display in the small museum located at the Pete French Round Barn. It’s a great place to visit from an historic and architectural perspective. The barn is one of my favorite local attractions.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

Monochrome Monday

Bachelor buttons up close: Macro Monday

Bachelor buttons up close Bend, Oregon August 2020
Bachelor buttons up close in Bend, Oregon August 2020
Close up of flower July 2020

Bachelor buttons up close in our garden. I never knew they had so many colors. This flower has such an interesting structure – like a bouquet of tiny trumpets.

Macro Monday

A patch of blue in the smoke over Oregon

I saw a patch of blue in the smoke-filled landscape today. Air quality is hazardous and skies are smoky over Bend, Oregon, but one of my notoriously camera-shy mountain bluebirds paused for a portrait. I needed that today! My main computer decided it no longer wanted to wake up from sleep mode.

A patch of blue, bluebird in Oregon September 2020

Here is the air quality reading yesterday afternoon over Bend.

Air quality in Bend, Oregon 12 September 2020

Here are the readings from in and around Bend yesterday.

Air quality near Bend Oregon 12 September 2020

Fires are far from Bend, but wind blew smoke our way.

Wildfires in Oregon 12 September 2020

Wildfires are raging over much of the west. We are looking forward to a little rain this week.

Thanks to the firefighters at work on these fires! May they find their own patch of blue.

A praying mantis of another color: Macro Monday

When I first saw this praying mantis on hop plants in our garden of plenty, I thought it must be a species I had never seen. Its coloring was so light it was almost white. I learned that when some types of mantis shed their skin, they stay white for a short period of time. They can molt 10 times before reaching their adult size. This one will probably turn green, like others I have seen on our property.

A praying mantis in Bend, Oregon August 2020
Molting mantis on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020
Ghostly looking insect on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020

Macro Monday

Ice plants up close: Macro Monday

Ice plants up close near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Here’s a photo of ice plants up close from my garden near Bend, Oregon. I always look forward to seeing their bright, long lasting blooms.

Macro Monday

Brothers Stage Stop: Monochrome Monday

Brothers Stage Stop in Oregon July 2020

The Brothers Stage Stop, in Brothers, Oregon, is a little oasis in the high desert an hour east of Bend.

Monochrome Monday

Plant ID – To weed or not to weed: Friday Flowers

To weed or not to weed. Sometimes weeding is a big job, so how can you tell which plant is a weed?

Are the tall plants in this photo weeds that I should pull?

Mullein plants near Bend, Oregon July 2020

What about this plant with pretty purple flowers?

Spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July2020

Are these two plants weeds?

Oregon sunshine & iceplant near Bend, Oregon July2020

You can’t always determine what kind of plant it is, but plant ID tools will help.

Websites & Apps

A good place to start, is the Wildflower Search website. You can narrow down the possibilities by clicking on a map with the general location you saw the plant. You can narrow it down more by inputting if it’s a tree, shrub, flower, grass, etc. Entering the color of the flower and the time of year you observed it narrows it down even more. This site goes into more detail with options including the growth pattern of leaves and the number of flower petals but most of the time, just selecting the options already mentioned helps determine what it is.

Wildflower Search Plant ID July 2020

Here in Oregon, you can get a paid app for Oregon Wildflower identification. It has similar features to the Wildflower Search site. This app is great to have on your phone when you’re out in the field. Is there a plant ID app where you live? They are a great resource!

Oregon Wildlfowers Plant ID July 2020

Books & Extension Units

Of course you can consult a wide selection of field guides. Use those that cover your geographic area. Here are a few I use. Yes, that copy of Sagebrush Country has spent a lot of time in the field. πŸ˜‰ If you’re looking for a more recently published field guide, see Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert.

Plant identification field guides July 2020

Don’t forget to consult your local Cooperative Extension Unit. If you take in a cutting, they can help you identify the plant. At the Oregon State University Extension Service office closest to me, I can “Ask an Expert” by sending in a photograph of an unidentified plant. They’ll help you with plant ID. Cooperative Extension Units have a wealth of information for gardeners. The one here in Central Oregon has a great publication on water-wise gardening that I have referred to numerous times.

Water-wise gardening handbook July 2020

My Favorite Plant ID Tool!

I saved my favorite plant identification tool for last. Install the Google Lens app and take a picture with your phone. Open the picture and click on the icon and your screen will sparkle like it’s been sprinkled with pixie dust. Then it will magically show you pictures with names of possible plants. I have also used this app for identifying random antiques, but identifying plants is what I use it for the most. Does Google Lens work perfectly in identifying everything? No! Yesterday I took a picture of a lizard on a juniper tree. It told me it was a pangolin, a type of scaly anteater, on bamboo. πŸ˜€ However, Google Lens usually narrows things down and then you can refer to field guides, etc.

So back to my original questions about if I should pull the plants pictured.

Google Lens mullein plant near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Google Lens tells me the first plant is a type of mullein. They are considered a weed where I live. However, birds love the seeds on those tall stalks so I leave a few in the landscaping for them. It’s okay to keep plants that aren’t native if you keep them from getting out of control.

Google Lens spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July 2020

The second plant, with the pretty purple flowers, is spotted knapweed. It is so invasive around Central Oregon that you can be fined up to $750 a day per lot. I pull every one of those I see. The local Noxious Weed Program helps landowners identify aggressive, non-native plants.

The last picture is a twofer. Are these plants weeds? I can click on each plant and Google Lens will tell me what they are. The yellow flowered plant is Oregon sunshine. This native plant grows like a weed, but I love its cheerful color and long-lasting blooms so I don’t pull it. The pink flowered plant is iceplant. It’s an escapee from a landscaped part of our yard. It gets no water where it is but it’s doing great! Both these plants will stay where they are.

Good luck with your attempts at plant ID. Hope these tools help.

Friday Flowers

Resplendent with crystals of snow: LAPC

Winds shift and winter blows
In from the farthest reaches of
North, carried on cold fronts
Turning landscapes into
Enchanted scenes
Resplendent with crystals of snow

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Winter

Horsetail Falls View: Pull up a Seat & PFTW Challenge

Last fall we were treated to a beautiful Horsetail Falls view on an October day. We took a trip to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to see some of the sights. The Historic Columbia River Highway runs parallel to the river and takes you past several spectacular waterfalls, including iconic Multnomah Falls.

You can take in the views from this comfortable bench or…

Horsetail Falls view , Oregon October 2019

Get great photos of this 224-foot tall waterfall from the roadside.

Horsetail Falls in Oregon October 201

I liked the interesting rock formation to the left of the falls and the layers of green moss and ferns.

Base of a waterfall near the Columbia River in Oregon October 2019

You can also get a good Horsetail Falls view from Horsetail Falls Trail #438. This 2.3-mile loop trail takes you past Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, and Middle Oneata Falls.

Check ahead of time before visiting. The site may be closed because of COVID-19 restrictions, wildfires, or for other reasons.

Pull Up a Seat Photo Challenge – Week 29

Photo for the Week (PFTW) 72- Vacation

Autumn kaleidoscope colors: LAPC

Rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens to see summer’s verdant green fade

Green meadow at Sunriver Oregon June 2017

And mix with blades of rich gold.

Gold and green grasses in Oregon September 2016

Rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens to see warm reds mute cool greens

Autumn's kaleidoscope red leaves among fallen trees in Oregon September 2016

And mix with shards of bright yellow.

Red and gold leaves in Bend, Oregon October 2019

And if you rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens at the right moment,

Autumn's kaleidoscope Oregon September 2016

You’ll see all the brilliant colors fill your view

Autumn's kaleidoscope Oregon September 2016

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Fall/Autumn