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. 😉 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. 😀 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

Blue flax flowers up close: Macro Monday

Blue flax flowers up close in my garden. These delicate flowers are difficult to photograph because they have a habit of turning away from the camera. I guess they are a little camera shy!

Macro Monday

Lighting up winter nights: LAPC

Last February I was happy to see the Central Oregon Light Art exhibition lighting up winter nights in Bend. Oregon WinterFest has food, beer, and music like other events, but it’s also a showcase for artists. I have photographed the Fire Pit Competition (one of my favorite events!) and the Ice Sculpture Competition in the past. Central Oregon Light Art was added in 2019. I was surprised and impressed with what I saw this year.

This one looked nice in the daylight but look at how it changes at night.

Lighting up winter nights at Oregon WinterFest February 2020
  • Round light sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 2020
  • Round light sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 2020
  • Round light sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 2020

This one reminded me of blue barber’s pole.

Vertical pole light sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 2020

A multi-colored suspended piece with a ghostly sculpture in the background.

Lighting up winter nights at Oregon WinterFest February 2020

A simple and bold piece.

A bold light sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 2020

An outline of a person. I think I liked this one the best. The guy walking behind it warned me he was going to photo bomb me and I told him he’d be on my blog. 😀

Lighting up winter nights at Oregon WinterFest February 2020

This piece is like a graceful lighted wind chime.

Windchime-like sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 202

A tree lighted up in cool colors. The flag bridge is in the background.

Lighted tree sculpture at Oregon WinterFest February 202

The temperature that night was cold, but I was glad to have the opportunity to see these works of art lighting up winter nights.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Surprise

Many shades of obsidian: Weekend Challenge

There are many shades of obsidian in nature. The Weekend Challenge from GC and SueW, and their monthly color challenge for June, is the color Obsidian.

By coincidence, I was out in the yard yesterday morning rearranging some of the obsidian I’ve collected at nearby Glass Buttes. Here in Bend, Oregon, we recently had a huge storm with high winds, rain, and hail. My rocks all had a nice bath. 😉

Here are few portraits of obsidian rocks in my garden.

A piece of black obsidian in with the ice plants. I like to pick up pieces that have interesting textures.

Many shades of obsidian. Black obsidian & ice plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

Here’s a larger piece of black obsidian tucked in under the mint plants.

Black obsidian & mint plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

Here are a trio of mahogany obsidian rocks.

Mahogany obsidian from Glass Buttes, Oregon May 2020

Here are three smaller pieces beneath a cholla cactus. Spotted mahogany colored rocks, like the middle piece in the photo below, are called leopardskin obsidian. If that’s true, is the striped piece on the left tigerskin obsidian? I don’t think so!

Go to OreRockOn and look under the Obsidian & Knapping for Sale tab to see pictures of many varieties of obsidian.

Obsidian beneath a cholla cactus. Bend, Oregon May 2020

This is green sheen obsidian. It has stripes of green color crossing the black.

Green sheen obsidian . Bend, Oregon May 2020

This piece of silver sheen obsidian is being guarded by a prickly pear cactus. Silver sheen, and other types of obsidian, have a sparkly iridescence when you tilt them in the light.

Many shades of obsidian. Silver sheen obsidian . Bend, Oregon May 2020

This gunmetal obsidian, next to an Oregon sunshine plant, blends in with the color of the gravel. Gunmetal is solid gray in color.

Gunmetal obsidian & Oregon sunshine plant. Bend, Oregon May 2020

These are just a few of the many shades of obsidian located an hour away from my house. Lucky me!

For more on Glass Buttes, in eastern Oregon, see Glass Buttes Obsidian Field Trip and Glass Butte Dragonglass . I Like Rocks! shows more rock pictures taken in my gardens.

Rainbow of soft colors in my garden: LAPC

Right now I have a rainbow of soft colors in my garden. Many plants are blooming in the high desert.

This lupine has delicate shades of purple and peach on the same plant.

Soft colors in my garden Bend, Oregon May 2020

My purple sage shrub started blooming last week. This plant is a member of the mint family. If you crush the leaves you’ll get what some refer to as a “mildly intoxicating minty aroma.”

Purple sage in bloom. Bend, Oregon May 2020

This a sweet little carnation with dusty green foliage and small blossoms in varying shades of pink.

Pink carnation in bloom. Bend, Oregon May 2020

The orange globe mallow has small blossoms that contrast well with its muted green leaves. The large heart-shaped rock adds a nice accent. I Like Rocks! shows examples of other rocks in my garden.

Orange globe mallow. Bend, Oregon  May 2020

This is a cushion spurge plant. I love the soft yellow blossoms and colorful variegated foliage on this ‘First Blush’ variety.

I recently featured a close up of another spurge in my yard. They are cheerful little plants. 🙂

Soft colors in my garden in Bend, Oregon. Cushion spurge May 2020

I always appreciate the soft colors in my garden, but even more so now.

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

Hans Christian Anderson

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Delicate colours

Vista House: Views of the Columbia

Vista House in Corbett, Oregon October 2019

A unique landmark

Vista House is a unique landmark sitting high above the Columbia River about a half hour east of Portland, Oregon. Perched atop Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River, this site serves as a rest stop and observatory for people traveling the Historic Columbia River Highway. 

Assistant Highway Engineer Samuel Lancaster was the supervisor of the Columbia River Highway project in 1913. It was his idea to offer a place that would make the natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge more accessible to visitors. Lancaster thought Crown Point would be an ideal site for “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite.” 

Sandstone & stained glass, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Sandstone exterior

Architect Edgar M. Lazarus designed the structure in a modern German style that incorporated aspects of Art Nouveau. Multnomah County road master John B. Yeon supervised Vista House’s construction. Construction started in 1916 and was completed in 1918.

State funds were not available for its construction, so it was funded by Multnomah County and from private sources. Local schoolchildren were among the contributors. Because of its high costs, the public dubbed it the “million dollar outhouse.” It was original budgeted at $12,000 but ultimate costs were closer to $100,000, nearly $2 million in today’s dollars.

Ceiling with faux painting, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Faux-painted ceiling

Construction details

The exterior of the eight-sided building is constructed from gray sandstone. Vista House is 55 feet high and 44 feet in diameter. Inside, light cream and pink Kasota limestone covers most of the interior. They used Tokeen Alaskan marble in the rotunda’s floors and stairs. It was also used in the wainscotting in the basement. Original plans for Vista House called for the dome ceiling to be constructed of marble supported by ribs of bronze. Costs were high, so they painted the ceiling to simulate the look of marble and bronze. The upper windows have greenish opalized glass. The tall rotunda windows are green at the tops and clear below, allowing visitors to take in the 360-degree view. Green tiles covered the original roof.

Marble lined hallway, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Marble wainscotting

There are poems posted on the pillars within the rotunda. Here is my favorite one:

We call upon the mountains,
the Cascades and the Olympics,
the high green valleys
and meadows filled with wildflowers,
the snows that never melt,
the summits of intense silence,
and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the forests,
the great trees reaching
strongly to the sky
with earth in their roots
and the heaven in their branches,
the fir and the pine and the cedar,
and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

-Chinook Invocation—Quoted in Edward Goldsmith, The Way, 1992

More to see

In the basement, you’ll find a small museum and gift shop. There are also several interpretive displays in the hallways. A million visitors visit this site each year.

Vista House went through extensive renovations in 2000-2005. A copper roof, installed over the tiles for 50 years, was removed and they installed green roof tiles similar to the originals. Upgrades included installing an energy efficient geothermal heat pump system.

Vista House view, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
View to the east
View of Vista House from Chanticleer Point, Oregon October 2019
View of Vista House from Chanticleer Point

Here’s a photo sphere view of the inside. Drag the image around to get the full picture. Vista House 360-degree view.

More info

Crown Point was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

This Oregon State Parks brochure includes a map that shows Vista House and many other scenic treasures worth visiting along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Clover up close at Glass Buttes: SMM

Clover up close

Last week we visited Glass Buttes to collect obsidian and many wildflowers were in full bloom. Here is a clover up close.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Day breaks and clouds wait: LAPC & Sunday Stills

Sunrise over Bend, Oregon 15October2019

Day breaks
And clouds
Wait to reflect
Nature’s glow

Day breaks and clouds wait sunrise, Bend, Oregon 15October2019

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Morning

Sunday Stills – Mother Nature

Buckwheat blossoms in the summer: Floral Friday #13

Buckwheat blossoms near Bend, Oregon 28June2019

These wild buckwheat blossoms were photographed in the High Desert near Bend, Oregon. I believe this is a variety of Eriogonum umbellatum, the sulfur flower. Their yellow blossoms brighten up the desert like little rays of sunshine!

Floral Fridays