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.
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.
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.
Here is the air quality reading yesterday afternoon over Bend.
Here are the readings from in and around Bend yesterday.
Fires are far from Bend, but wind blew smoke our way.
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.
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.
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?
What about this plant with pretty purple flowers?
Are these two plants weeds?
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
This one reminded me of blue barber’s pole.
A multi-colored suspended piece with a ghostly sculpture in the background.
A simple and bold piece.
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. 😀
This piece is like a graceful lighted wind chime.
A tree lighted up in cool colors. The flag bridge is in the background.
The temperature that night was cold, but I was glad to have the opportunity to see these works of art lighting up winter nights.
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.
Here’s a larger piece of black obsidian tucked in under the mint plants.
Here are a trio of mahogany obsidian rocks.
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.
This is green sheen obsidian. It has stripes of green color crossing the black.
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.
This gunmetal obsidian, next to an Oregon sunshine plant, blends in with the color of the gravel. Gunmetal is solid gray in color.
These are just a few of the many shades of obsidian located an hour away from my house. Lucky me!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!