After waiting years
for bright blossoms to appear,
luminous at last
After waiting years
for bright blossoms to appear,
luminous at last
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is to pick images that go with five possible words. I chose to use all five.
I am featuring pictures from a late September trip to The Oregon Garden, in Silverton, Oregon. It’s an 80-acre botanical garden that is beautiful to visit during any season.
This mixed border is an “exuberant” mix of colorful flowers of various sizes and textures.
This planting looked “comfortable” with every plant spaced out so you can appreciate the details.
These chrysanthemums are “crowded” together in a quilt of color.
This landscape is “growing” red as fall approaches.
The cactus garden is “tangled” with the spiky leaves of prickly pear.
It can get crowded at The Oregon Garden, so if you don’t want to get tangled in traffic, plan your visit for a comfortable time of day so you can experience this growing attraction with the exuberance it deserves.
To see how our efforts have paid off in our own growing garden space, see Garden of Plenty, posted a couple days ago.
I am sharing photos of some of my household treasures taken from different angles. I used a tabletop studio to take these pictures. The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Everyday Objects.
The first two pictures are of a cricket cage I’ve had since I was about eight years old. I distinctly remember taking it in for Show and Tell. The crickets were chirping in the darkness within my school desk.
This is an antique egg beater I purchased at an antique show in Portland, Oregon. I’m not sure if the parts were meant to go together but that’s how I bought it. I use it regularly and it works great!
This is one of my favorite rocks. I collected it near Thermopolis, Wyoming at a place called the Smorgasbord. I was carrying a field thermometer with me and I will always remember the reading that day. 126 degrees Fahrenheit!
The last two pictures are of a fork and spoon I used as a toddler. The backs are stamped “Atla – Denmark.” It’s not surprising that I have a deep love of wild creatures after learning how to eat with this particular fork and spoon.
All of these items have one thing in common. When people see them, they want to touch them and look at them more closely. Household treasures can be a treat to the eyes and your other senses.
In early May 2017, we visited the national parks in Utah. With temperatures in the 90s, we didn’t exactly avoid the desert’s heat, but we were happy to see Arches National Park in bloom.
These plants grow well under the hot, sunny conditions. Here are a few of the plants we saw in bloom. Some are big and bold; others are small and subtle.
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…
Get great photos of this 224-foot tall waterfall from the roadside.
I liked the interesting rock formation to the left of the falls and the layers of green moss and ferns.
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.
Rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens to see summer’s verdant green fade
And mix with blades of rich gold.
Rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens to see warm reds mute cool greens
And mix with shards of bright yellow.
And if you rotate the autumn kaleidoscope lens at the right moment,
You’ll see all the brilliant colors fill your view
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.
Suspended from slender stems
Chime in pastel tones
Here’s a look at a barn owl up close. They are such an interesting looking owl. Their white facial discs and undersides contrast with cinnamon colored head, back, and upperwings. An elegant bird with a worldwide distribution.
A Photo a Week Challenge – Anything
A single flower
With petals radiating
Captures warm sunlight
To share on overcast days
Illuminating us all
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – One single flower
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is the long and winding road. Wandering the roads of Utah a few years ago, we saw many picturesque roads.
The Mt. Carmel Tunnel in Zion National Park.
Winding dirt roads bordering the canyons in Canyonlands National Park.
Utah State Route 95 curves down towards the Hite Bridge in Lake Powell.
Arches Scenic Drive Road near Park Avenue in Arches National Park.
Winding dirt roads seen in Bryce Canyon National Park from Bryce Point.
Highway 28 runs along the Colorado River near Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab.
Scenic Drive Road in Capitol Reef National Park.
Be sure to have your camera ready when you are out wandering the roads of Utah. Lots of opportunities for pictures! 😀
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.
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.”
This a sweet little carnation with dusty green foliage and small blossoms in varying shades of pink.
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.
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. 🙂
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
On May 18, 1980, a trip to help band golden eagles at the Yakima Canyon in eastern Washington turned into an unexpected Mount St. Helens adventure.
I was part of the Young Adult Conservation Corps, working for the Washington Department of Game in Olympia, Washington. We spent most of our time in the office, but we took occasional field trips. One of the wildlife biologists invited four of us to help him band eagles and we were excited to get out in the field.
We piled into John’s Volkswagen van and took off for eastern Washington. John suggested stopping at Crab Creek Habitat Management Area, 20 minutes south of Royal City, to do a little birdwatching before driving south to meet the biologist. We stopped and saw yellow-headed blackbirds, cinnamon teal and other kinds of ducks, a short-eared owl, and two Virginia rails with a newly hatched chick.
We drove along the road bordering Crab Creek. There was talk of taking our raft down the creek. Nobody could decide what to do so we pulled off the main road onto a minor side road a half a mile from Smyrna. We had no idea how long we would end up staying on that side road.
We got out of the van to check out the creek and noticed what looked like a storm brewing in the west. John, who was familiar with the area, said that if we rafted the creek, we would see more than we could by car. The rest of us were hesitant about rafting if there was any possibility of rain. As we stood there trying to decide what to do, a “storm” drifted into the valley. John kept saying it wouldn’t matter if we got a little wet and kept insisting we should raft the creek. We still couldn’t decide what to do.
At around 8:30 a.m., we heard what sounded like two sonic booms. We figured the sound came from the nearby Yakima Firing Range, where the United States Army did training exercises. A little while after that, we heard thunder and Dave and I thought we smelled rain. This was Sally’s first time in eastern Washington. She had recently moved from Pennsylvania, and we were busy explaining to her that sometimes big thunderstorms move through eastern Washington. By this time you couldn’t see the far end of the valley and lightning crackled across the sky. John mentioned that he’d gone to college in Ellensburg, an hour west of us, and thunderstorms were common. The rest of us believed him at that point, but we had concerns about the storm.
The clouds kept moving in until they covered half the sky. Electrical wires overhead buzzed from the electricity in the air. The buzz would get louder until a flash of lightning and a peal of thunder would rock the valley and then the buzz would start again. Meanwhile, the clouds overhead looked like someone had spilled an enormous bowl of gray-colored popcorn and it had spread across the sky. We started talking about how we had never seen clouds like that. Dave, who was from Alabama, said it looked like a tornado sky.
As we talked, the clouds changed again. Now they looked like gigantic fists pounding down on us. By this time, John had given up on rafting the creek and he ran to the van to get his camera. I asked him to grab mine, and we both took pictures of the amazing clouds as they formed overhead. If you followed one it would move downward, exploding into a black haze.
The immense dark clouds now covered about three quarters of the sky. It was dark overhead, and the only light left was in the east. The effect was that of an eerie sunset, but it was 11:00 in the morning. The darkness continued to move across the sky until only a sliver of light remained on the horizon.
At about this time, Sally said she felt something falling on her face. She asked us if we felt it and we said “no” but one by one we felt something falling on us too. John turned on the radio in the van. It said, “In case you haven’t heard, Mount St. Helens has blown.” We looked at each other in disbelief and John let out a hoot and said the mountain “had finally done it.” Several weeks before, we had taken a quick trip to the west side of the mountain for a planned Mount St. Helens adventure. On that trip, we took pictures of the mountain venting steam.
We were excited and didn’t know what to do next. Everyone decided we better get into the van when the ash fall got heavy. It was also getting dark out. The ash was coming down so heavy it was impossible to go out without something covering your mouth. We were 120 miles northeast of Mount St. Helens, directly in the ash’s path. Lightning still flashed every once in a while, spreading in a horizontal direction, like fingers reaching across the sky. The flashes were the only outside light we would glimpse for many hours.
It was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The time was around 11:30 a.m. We didn’t know how long we would be there so we only turned on the radio every once in a while. The disc jockeys were excited about the eruption and played songs like “Volcano” by Jimmy Buffet and “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. I remember part of Jimmy Buffet’s lyrics in particular: “I don’t know where I’m going to go when the volcano blows.” We had one beer in the van and shared it in a toast to the volcano. We got out a flashlight and spread a map outside to collect ash.
I lit a candle lantern but a little while later we dug out John’s Coleman lantern. We only kept the light on for brief periods of time because it would get too hot in the van. Whenever we opened the window, ash and mosquitoes would pour into the van. We wondered how long we would be in there and what we would do to pass the time.
We talked about what we were experiencing for a while. If we hadn’t been near a radio, we could have thought this was a nuclear explosion and that stuff falling from the sky was radioactive fallout. With the sky being so dark and everything so quiet, it would have been easy to think it was the end of the world. We should have been in a panic, but we were calm about the whole situation. The darkness surrounding us had a kind of presence, but it wasn’t a frightening one.
As it became more and more clear that we might be stuck where we were for a while, we started trying to think of things to do. We were lucky we had plenty of food because our plan was to meet four other people and we had enough for everyone for four days. We couldn’t cook anything, but we had plenty of vegetables to snack on and peanut butter and jelly to make sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were the easiest things to make. Dave, who once worked as a camp counselor, sang us a camp song about the sandwiches in his soft southern drawl.
“First you take the peanuts and you crunch ’em, you crunch ‘em… For your peanut, peanut butter and jelly. Peanut, peanut butter and jelly.”
He cracked us up because of the funny way he sang and danced to the song. Dave pretended to pick grapes, crush peanuts, and spread peanut butter and jelly onto bread. Every time he said the word “jelly” he raised his voice for emphasis. It was easy to imagine how his rendition would entertain young campers.
After that, we started telling dumb jokes and singing camp songs. When we started running out of those, John said he thought he had a deck of cards in the van. He found them, and we played cards for a long time.
We would shut off the light every once in a while because of the heat and to check if it was still dark. It was early afternoon, and the sky was pitch black. When we opened the van door and turned the light on, the mosquitoes and moths would come inside again. We spent a long time trying to get rid of the mosquitoes. They were big ones! As it got later in the day, we thought about sleeping arrangements. We rearranged our gear, including the rubber raft, cooler, and bags of food, to find a place to sleep semi-comfortably.
Around this time, we heard a big thud against the side of the van. We looked at each other and when we realized none of us had made the noise, we rushed to lock the doors. I don’t know why, but everyone had the same thought at the same time. We wondered if something had run into the van. John turned on his headlights and we saw a duck lying on the ground. It must have flown into the van because it couldn’t navigate in the darkness. The duck was flapping around like the collision injured it, so I jumped out to check if it was okay. The bird flew off after a couple unsuccessful attempts so it must not have been hurt too badly.
A little while later, when we had the light on, a swallow flew around the windows like it was trying to get into the van. The swallow perched on the windshield wipers for a while and then it would flutter around again. The animals were feeling the effects of the heavy ash fall. John and I thought about the Virginia rail chick we had seen that morning. It was so young it wasn’t yet able to stand. It was likely covered by ash now. We would see more effects on the local wildlife when we woke up the next morning.
By evening we were getting restless and eager for some sign that we would see the light of day again. At around 8:30 p.m., we got a brief glimpse of the landscape. It was light enough to make out the hills surrounding us, but not enough to see very far down the valley. The quick glimpse showed us the ash covering everything, and it was still falling. Dave and John set out a tarp to collect more ash. The map we had laid out earlier had about ¾ of an inch of ash on it. Darkness came again as night fell. The night was quiet and starless.
We woke the next morning to an unfamiliar world. It was like a layer of gray snow had covered the land. Before, the plants had been green and growing and now they were a pale gray color and bent over from the weight of the ash. The ash covering the ground was nearly two inches deep. The consistency was like baby powder. If you picked up a handful and threw it in the air, it would stay suspended for a while. If you stepped onto it, it was like moon dust. It would whoosh around the sides of your shoe and when you moved your foot away, a deep and perfect print would remain.
As we looked around, there were signs that animals had been very active during the night. Everywhere you looked, you saw tracks. It’s too bad we didn’t have a field guide to animal tracks with us because this would have been the perfect opportunity to use it. Rabbit, mouse, and bird tracks ran in neat lines across the ash. Several tracks formed intricate designs like those of the beetle we observed trudging across this new ash-covered world. It would do loops, turns, stop, and then do it again. Ants tunneled their way out of the thick ash, already adapting to the unfamiliar landscape. An occasional duck would fly by, and a few floated in the nearby creek. The animals were trying to adapt to this altered world, but they didn’t all survive the extended gloomy night.
We decided we had better try to get out of there and back to civilization. John and Dave picked up the tarp and guessed it held ten pounds of ash. We collected ash in containers and ended up collecting a lot on our shoes and clothing. The ash was still thick in the air and we wore bandanas to help keep it out of our noses and mouths. We took pictures of everyone looking like a bunch of bank robbers.
A couple cars drove by in the distance so everyone decided we should try to get going too. We got in the van to drive to Odessa, an hour and a half to the northeast. The route went up a hill and after we had driven a few miles, the van conked out. It had overheated. This VW van was air cooled, taking air in through collectors on the sides and circulating the air around the engine. The hot, ash-filled air wasn’t cooling the engine down enough. John got mad and took a walk. When he came back, he told us there was an intersection not too far up the hill. Luckily the van started, and we took off towards “civilization.”
Every time a car drove on the roads, it would kick up huge dust clouds that were almost impossible to see through. The main east-west highway in Washington State, Interstate 90, was closed because of the heavy accumulation of ash.
An enormous amount of ash fell at Mount St. Helens, but as it drifted east, accumulations were heavier in certain parts of eastern Washington. We later learned that prior to the eruption, the mountain measured 9,677 feet at the summit. After the eruption, it measured 8,363 feet. A lot of that material had shot up into the atmosphere.
After stopping at a corner store and attempting to call Olympia, we headed for Royal City. The people at the store told us the church there was taking in travelers. The population of Royal City in 1980 was 676 people. We drove to the nearby church and the van almost died again. The van made it to the church and we ended up staying there with about 75 other people for four days.
We donated most of our food to the church so they could share it with the other stranded travelers. The majority of the food served was from the community and there was plenty for everyone. We ate a lot of delicious home-canned vegetables and fruit.
The pastor, his wife, and the sheriff showed great patience in a tough situation. During the last two days of our stay, people were getting antsy to get out of there and they were getting on each other’s nerves. Sally, Dave, John, and I were getting along fine and passed time by telling more dumb jokes.
“Why did the cowboy want a dachshund? So he could get a long little doggie.”
We went to the high school to take showers and once to play basketball and volleyball. As soon as you walked outside, you felt dirty because of the intense heat and the ash floating through the air. Back at the church, the pastor got everyone singing after dinnertime every day to get their minds off the situation. One night they sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and then a song about the walls of Jericho tumbling down. I don’t think most people even realized how the songs applied to our predicament.
With the help of the townspeople, we made it through our time in Royal City. They made plans for a convoy with patrol cars, graders, and firetrucks with hoses to help us get back home. Water from the hoses helped to keep the ash down briefly. The convoy would leave the next morning.
When we woke up the next morning, the parking lot was almost empty because everyone drove by themselves. We took off with a couple from Seattle following us. It’s good they did because after the van broke down twice in 15 miles, we abandoned it. We left the van at a farm and gave them our food that would have spoiled. The six of us squeezed into the Seattle couple’s compact car and drove to Bellevue, where John’s parents lived. This ride normally took two-and-a-half hours, but it took way longer that day.
John and Dave drove back to get the van the next day. They towed it to John’s parent’s house and worked on it. The ash had been very cruel to the van and unfortunately it would never run again. The van delivered us from our secluded ash-covered camp and worked a couple more times, but it just couldn’t make it the entire way.
When we finally returned to our offices in Olympia, it was like the four of us were joined at the hip. We moved in a herd from room to room. Because of our shared experiences, we couldn’t bear to be apart for a while.
We will always remember this once in a lifetime Mount St. Helens adventure.
Written in May 1980 and edited for clarity. Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Today’s Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) word is “photograph.” I was lucky because I had before, during, and after photographs for this story. I took a lot of pictures when the eruption was happening but I had a little problem. Ash got into my camera and destroyed it. The handful of pictures I was able to save were overexposed. If only I would have had a smartphone!
You can learn more about the mountain at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, the Charles W. Bingham Forest Learning Center , the Mount St. Helens Science & Learning Center, and the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is cropping the shot. I’m sharing before and after images taken at Capitol Reef National Park near Torrey, Utah. These pictures show examples of making the cut to highlight the subject matter.
Sometimes you want to cut a road out of the picture so you can focus on the scenery. I loved the layered land forms at this park.
Other times there’s a sign you overlooked. How did I not see that?
But there are other times when you want to emphasize a sign.
I was interested in that sign because a thunderstorm was about to break. Needless to say, we did not drive down the narrow canyon.
Note: I also used a perspective correction tool in my photo editing program to straighten the sign.
Sometimes a place deserves a more panoramic view so you give it a little trim. You have to decide where the best place is when you’re making the cut. Hope I didn’t cut it too short.
And then there are times when you add a little hidden Easter egg and wonder if anyone will notice it when you share the final cropped photo.
Do you see the tiny tan smudge in the lower left corner on one of the flat rocks? That’s a white-tailed antelope squirrel traveling at Rocky J. Squirrel speed. Not a great picture of it, but good enough that I could identify it later. 😀
This pretty plant is the first to bloom in my garden in the spring. The tiny flower of cypress spurge is framed by bright yellow bracts.
I am trying to take a look at things at home from different perspectives.
The western juniper trees are always ready to be photographed from a distance or close up.
My juniper muse from the ground up.
Ripples and layers.
A close up of red bark.
The lichens and mosses on the rocks in my yard are painting portraits full of color and texture.
A still life of sticks and rocks.
Cheatgrass seeds caught in crevices and moss.
Vibrant yellow lichens amidst darker ones.
Our pets are grateful we are home and they let us know in their own special ways.
Praying I always stay home this much.
Finally tuckered out after extra play time.
Hoping to bring a smile to my face by decorating her white coat with dirt.
Hope you are managing your time at home okay. Try to look at things from different perspectives and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Keeping our distance
Avoiding close contact
Unsure where to turn
On the darkest of days
But one day, we will once again fly with our flocks
Rejoice with our families
And our voices will join together in song
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Distance
When I saw that the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week was A River Runs Through It, I immediately thought of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
This river meanders its way through colorful rock formations
And pounds down in the Upper Falls
Past pine forests
And into the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Artist Thomas Moran captured the river’s spirit in this painting, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. He and others on the Hayden Expedition of 1871 traveled to the greater Yellowstone area and documented what they encountered. They were instrumental in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in March of 1872.
Thomas Moran used his artistic skills to capture outstanding features in vibrant paintings of the landscape. He was an influencer in his time. See more of his work at Painter of Yellowstone.
It’s time once again for fun with photos. Welcome to Photo Bloopers 4! This is what I do with pictures that don’t quite fit in or turned out weird looking. They needed a few words to make them more interesting. Hope they entertain you!
Do you want to see more of my Photo Bloopers? See:
Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)
Someday in the future I’ll live on a street full of possibilities
Someday I’ll live where birds are the color of the sky
And flowers are the color of the sun
Someday I’ll live where lichens send messages that only I can see
And rocks will tell me of distant worlds in their own kind of Braille
Someday I’ll live where trees watch me through knowing eyes
And waterfalls speak to me in shades of green
Someday in the future I’ll live where every sunrise is more spectacular than the one the day before
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Future
When I travel, I think about photographing what I see by noticing the lines. Your eye wants to follow where they lead you. Here a few leading lines from northern Oregon.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Leading Lines
Last week I helped preserve a bit of the desert, one acre at a time. Sometimes it isn’t apparent how your $$$ help a cause. When you donate to conserve.org, you can see your money in action.
For only $46 per acre, you can help the Oregon Desert Land Trust purchase part of the 118,794 Diablo Mountain Wilderness Study Area in eastern Oregon. You can view a 360-degree photo of each individual acre and choose which you want to help buy.
They are trying to purchase 880 acres that are currently in private hands. The Land Trust and Global Wildlife Conservation organizations will match funds for each donation to make the $182-per-acre purchase.
Once the purchase is complete, the public will have access to the land. The purchase ensures that the site will not be developed in the future.
This bit of the desert includes interesting natural and archaeological features. The salt flats and rimrock hillsides are home to mule deer, pronghorn, greater sage grouse, and burrowing owls. Migratory birds live in the sagebrush and greasewood habitats.
The Paisley Caves contain evidence of humans that dates back to over 14,000 years ago. The nearby Fort Rock Cave and Catlow Caves contain similar artifacts.
If you donate to this site, you can visit “your” acreage. I haven’t visited the parcels I helped purchase yet, but I can’t wait to see them in person. It will bring me great joy to see how I made a difference, one acre at a time.
There is a new weekly photo challenge called “On the Hunt for Joy Challenge” and the topic this week is “Get Outside.” I thought this would be a perfect time to feature this conservation opportunity.
It’s that time of year when you share some of your favorite pictures. As usual, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Please enjoy this selection of wild places, wildlife, history, and a pinch of art at the end.
May the new year bring you wisdom, patience, and peace.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Favorite Photos of 2019
Snowy quilts now cover the gardens, but I remember summer’s bounty
Glossy purple eggplants, leafy green artichoke buds, and garlic cloves wrapped in crisp colorful coverings
Rainbow shades of plump tiny tomatoes
I remember the fresh taste of cool cucumbers, the crunchiness of celery, and the sweet snap of carrots
Smooth rounded new potatoes, rough deep red beets, and elongated pods of green beans
Winter is on our doorstep, but I look forward to the tastes, textures, and colorful tones of summer’s bounty
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – On Display
The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Seeing Double. Sometimes two heads are better than one.
With two you can share your wisdom.
With two you can have differences of opinion…