High Desert Hideaway Hut: LAPC

High Desert Hideaway hut in Bend, Oregon

I showed you how I created this mural but I didn’t show you the inside of my High Desert hideaway hut. This 8 foot by 16 foot hut used to be a garden shed. We repurposed it into a guesthouse for visiting relatives and a studio space for me.

This $50 thrift shop door we installed is interesting on the inside and outside. What a great find!

  • Thrift shop door
  • Thrift shop door

This hide-a-bed also functions as a couch. A good place to curl up with reading material.

High Desert Hideaway hut in Bend, Oregon

We refinished and repurposed some pieces of furniture, including this antique commode.

Refinished commode

This $15 table went with chairs we already had. You can see it’s covered with photos and research material from my latest writing project.

Table & chairs

We tried to make it more homey by adding things we’ve created. Here are a couple poems my kids wrote (one framed with Creepy Crawlers) and a print by a local artist.

Poems by Rhett & Chani

And here’s a tiger drawing I created when I ran for a school board position. I keep some of my art supplies in this High Desert Hideaway Hut so I can work on future creations.

Tiger pen-and-ink by Siobhan Sullivan

One of my favorite things about this place is my view. I can peek out the window through the lilac branches to see the birds in the spruce trees. The pond in the background attracts many birds. Fluttering wings and melodic birdsongs offer a pleasant distraction in this retreat.

High Desert Hideaway view in Bend, Oregon

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – My Hideaway

Finding serenity in a kayak: LAPC

I always have a way of finding serenity when I’m in a kayak.

Majestic mountains can surround you in a gentle hug.

Finding serenity at Wallowa Lake, Oregon 4 June2019
Wallowa Lake

You can pause and reflect on your life.

Reflections at Clear Lake, Oregon 30August2016
Reflections at Clear Lake

Wild animals will welcome you to their landscape.

Finding serenity, Mule deer at Three Creek Lake, Oregon 24September2017
Mule deer at Three Creek Lake

You see things from a totally different perspective.

Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake 9August2016
Mt Bachelor from Hosmer Lake

And if you pay close attention, Nature will point the way.

Reflection at Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28September2017
Reflections at Little Lava Lake

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serenity

Writing a book is like making a bowl of oatmeal

You start by preparing either a quick type by the seat of your pants or

One that cooks longer and involves more planning

Once it’s cooked, the oatmeal, and the book draft, may be dull and boring

Writing a book like making oatmeal30April2019

So you spice it up by sprinkling it with cinnamon

A little sweetness will improve its appeal so you add sugar

It could be richer so you add butter

A few unanticipated morsels will be intriguing so you add raisins

Everything needs to blend well so you add a splash of milk

Writing a book like making oatmeal2

You think it’s ready to serve, but you must be certain…

There’s not too much fat and

Just enough sweetness and spiciness

With a few surprising and luscious bursts

That all mix together deliciously

Writing a book is like making a bowl of oatmeal

Siobhan Sullivan

Word of the Day Challenge – Luscious

The Watcher Within: Thursday Doors

Doors with eyes

I took this picture on a trip to the ghost town of Shaniko, Oregon and didn’t notice the watcher within until I edited the photo. I thought it was something inside but realized later it was a reflection of the Shaniko Hotel across the street. It looked like some alien creature out of a Star Wars movie watching me. I found some interesting doors in Shaniko but apparently they were keeping an eye on me.

The Watcher Within doors at Shaniko, Oregon 16May2018

Thursday Doors

 

Clear Lake Underwater Worlds: WPC

Life Beneath the Waves

I saw strange sights while out kayaking on Clear Lake in Oregon. Moss-covered creatures live beneath the waves waiting to enchant you and take you into their liquid world.

Clear Lake Underwater Oregon 30August2016

Weekly Photo Challenge – Liquid

Where the deer and the antelope played

Celebrating a life

After living a life full of leaps and bounds, she settled down in her favorite aspen grove. The bunchgrass waved goodbye. The rabbitbrush shaded her in her final moments. The rosebush provided fruit in celebration of her life. And finally, the aspen covered her in leaves of gold.

Where the deer and the antelope played 2November2017Weekly Photo Challenge – Story

Earth and Water: Daily Post Photo Challenge-Opposites

Earth & Water at Spring Creek, OR 25June2016

Earth and water photographed at Spring Creek near Camp Sherman, OR

Daily Post Photo Challenge – Opposites

Grounded – A poem of the Earth

Grounded Notice the Thermophiles Yellowstone NPk

Look beneath your feet
And notice

Colors blending Yellowstone NPk

Notice the textures
Notice the colors blending
And bold

Bold and brilliant hues
Bold and distinct edges
And patterns

Ridges Yellowstone NPk

Patterns of cracks
Patterns of smoothness
And transitions

Transitions moving towards new
Transitions moving in a rhythm
And beat

Grounded Notice everything at Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone NPk

Beat into the earth
Beat into your memory
And soul

Antique Thoughts

Things I’ve learned while antiquing that apply to life…

You can find wonderful and amazing things if you just remember to look up.

Imperfections may make things less valuable but they are the most treasured.

The experience is worth more than finding the thing you seek.

Winter Sunrise captured in words and visions

Winter Sunrise

Winter Sunrise

Cool snowy blankets
Boldly contrasting branches
Frame an immense sky
Blinking awake in deep blue
Blushing in flashes of fire

New Year: An optimistic reflective poem

New Year - Black-tailed Deer. Olympic National Park, WA
Black-tailed Deer. Olympic National Park, WA

As the new year approaches
You can choose to look down and back
Or up and forward

Jays – A bird always a part of my life

Blue Jay by Siobhan Sullivan
Blue Jay

Jays have insisted on being a part of my life since I was a young child. They are brash, bold, raucous, and not easily ignored.

As a five-year old living on a wooded lot in Maryland, the Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata,  introduced itself to me with little formality. Its loud voice and striking appearance said, “Notice me!” Its frequent companion, the Northern Cardinal, also made it hard for me to look away. I guess that must be why I have a thing for birds with crests on top of their heads.

When I moved back across the country to Washington State, I met more Jays. On camping trips with my family, the Gray Jay, Perisoreus canadensis,  made its kleptomaniac presence known. Otherwise known as the Camp Robber, this gray bird has a way of sneaking in and taking what it wants.

Gray Jays, Yellowstone NPk
Gray Jays

I had a boyfriend in high school named Jay. One winter I was out of town for a couple of weeks and when I came back he broke up with me. He told me he had started going out with “Mary” while I was gone. He said he had gone outside in the middle of the night and shouted to the world how much he loved Mary. Like I said, Jays have a way of being loud and taking what they want.

Steller's Jay, Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.
Steller’s Jay

The next Jay played an important role in my life for many years. Steller’s Jays, Cyanocitta stelleri, are a deep azure blue topped with a black crested head. They like to imitate Red-Tailed Hawks and other birds. Steller’s Jays also have an appetite for other bird’s eggs and young. They especially like to prey on the endangered marbled murrelet, a small seabird that breeds in inland forests. While working on a project to preserve a forest where murrelets nested, I learned more about the football-shaped seabirds and their predation by jays than I knew about any pigskin football.

Western Scrub Jay, Bend, Oregon
Western Scrub Jay

The latest Jay in my life is the Western Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica . When we first considered moving to the high desert of Oregon, I remember looking at potential houses and thinking, “What is that bird I keep seeing?” The bird raised its white eyebrows, cocked its head, and regarded me curiously. When we found the place we eventually bought, the blue, white, and gray Western Scrub Jays were in the backyard shouting a welcome.

Jays, with their distinctive appearance and mannerisms, always seem to be a part of my life.

Clouds

Clouds…

Obscure what was once clear

Release things that burden them

Blanket the cold nights

Shine brightness on what’s to come

Surround us in the divine

My favorite bouquets: A gift from Nature

My favorite bouquets Dwarf Monkey Flower
Dwarf monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus)

My favorite bouquets are the ones Mother Nature gives me.

A fluttering of wings: Townsend’s solitaire

Townsend's Solitaire in Bend, Oregon  October 2015

A fluttering of wings draws my attention.

A fluttering of wings - Townsend's Solitaire

Looking out of my window, I see a Townsend’s solitaire beating its wings and attacking its reflection in the side mirror of my parked car. It has been there for hours. Long strokes of white droppings adorn the side of my car. At first I assume the bird must be a male defending its territory.

Alike in appearance

Townsend’s solitaires are a drab gray relative of the American robin that most people wouldn’t even notice. They are not showy.

Male birds are usually the ones with colorful plumage but that is not the case with solitaires; the male and female look almost identical. I guess they decided not to follow the theory that a male is more brightly colored to attract females and the female has duller colors so she can sit undetected on a nest.

A fluttering of wings - Townsend's Solitaire in Bend, Oregon  October 2015

A flash of orange

I watch the bird pause in its attack on my car as it flies into a nearby Western juniper tree. An orange crescent of plumage flashes on its outstretched wings only to disappear again as it settles into the tree. The bird is camouflaged by the gray bark on the twisted form of the tree. Its darker flight and tail feathers blend into the cracks and crevasses of the tree’s bark.  It pulls off some of the juniper cones, tilts its head back, and gulps them down quickly. I see the flash of orange again when it flies up to the top of the tree.

Lover of junipers

In the fall and winter months, solitaires develop a one-track mind about what they will eat. They feed almost exclusively on the small purplish cones, otherwise known as berries, of the juniper tree.  While we may think of these cones as being good for nothing but the production of gin, they provide all that solitaires need.  The adaptable and much maligned Western juniper tree is being removed in parts of the West but solitaires and other animals often rely on it for food and shelter.

As their name implies, Townsend’s solitaires spend much of their time alone. They are a Greta Garbo type of bird. Solitaires often perch atop a juniper in a very upright position like a guard standing at attention.  The bird will remain quiet and motionless until there is a need for defense.

Townsend's Solitaire in Bend, Oregon  October 2015

Melodious songster

The bird in my yard opens its beak to sing. The melodious song is surprisingly complex. The clear flute-like notes ring out and fill the sky. It starts calling. The one short note is a loud attention-grabbing whistle that is repeated over and over again.  It’s like a bird version of a smoke alarm.

A fluttering of wings draws my attention.

Male songbirds defend their territory by singing and calling around its borders.  They essentially create a musically-charged “fence” around the boundaries. Townsend’s solitaire females also defend their territory. They will aggressively defend an area long past the breeding season. The females take an active role in protecting a productive juniper patch.

The solitaire returns to my car and perches briefly on the mirror. Its head is cocked to one side as it peers at the image of its perceived foe with a dark eye lined in creamy white.

Townsend's Solitaire in Bend, Oregon  October 2015

Admire their strength

I have learned to accept the unexpected. Those that first appear drab and dull may surprise you. Their colors may be hidden. Their voices may be quiet. They might be female. Give them a chance – look for the flash of color, listen to their song, and admire their strength.

A fluttering of wings draws my attention.

Fall’s Laughter

Close up of maple

Fall begins with joyous laughter and warm caresses that

Nod and wink as they cloak you with a touch of frost

Standing there entranced, you are enveloped by color

FallLaughs2Cool greens evolving into explosions of vibrant

Yellow, orange, and crimson

North winds swirl about you encircling you

FallLaughs4Wrapping you in the scent of remembrance

Snaps and crackles sound under your feet

Inviting you to grab handfuls and throw them into the air

FallLaughs3You smile as the coolness surrounding you is

Warmed by a shower of brilliant laughing tones

Emanating from falling leaves readying themselves for winter

Stronger than the Wind: A poem of resilience

Stronger than the wind Coopers Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk at High Desert Museum

Sometimes you will be happily flying along in life when – WHAM!

A gust of wind comes out of nowhere and hurtles you to the ground.

Pick yourself up, preen those damaged wings, and remind yourself

You are stronger than the wind.

Cheerleaders of Fall

Rabbitbrush

I can always tell when fall is on the way here because the rubber rabbitbrush, Ericameria nauseosa, gets out its bright yellow pom pom flowers and cheers into the wind.

Teenage Birds: Big, but are they invincible?

Teenage birds young robin
Me with a teenage American Robin many years ago

I have been seeing a lot of teenage birds lately. You can tell they’re teenagers because they appear to be nearly adult size and act like they’re invincible.

Cedar waxwings – Smooth, elegant birds

Cedar waxwings

I moved to the high desert a couple of years ago and thought I left some of my favorite friends behind. One of my favorite birds where I lived before were the cedar waxwings. I felt lucky when I saw one.

If I could use one word to describe cedar waxwings it would be “smooth”.  Whenever I see one I have an urge to reach out and touch it. Its tawny feathers ombre into a creamy yellow on its underparts and gray near its tail. The feathers connect together so tightly that they give it a silky smooth appearance.

Bird in a cherry tree

Facts about cedar waxwings

Cedar waxwings get their name by a unique feature on the tips of their wings and tail. They look as if they got too close to a craft project that involved melting crayons. Their tail are tipped in Sunshine Yellow. Small waxy droplets of Sizzling Red tip the wings.

They seem to wear a disguise on their faces. Black masks bordered with white frame their eyes. They raise a small crest of feathers on the tops of their heads as part of their communication. It alters their appearance so that they look like someone else.

Their voices are a wispy series of notes. I always recognize it even if I don’t see the bird. It is very high pitched, making them sound smaller than they actually are. One time I saw a grosbeak feeding one and thought it might be because it mistook the call for one of its young.

cedar waxwings

At some times of the year, waxwings flock together. I see specks flying high across the sky announcing their identity with their distinctive calls.  Where I lived before, I was happy to see one or two waxwing birds at a time. Now I see flocks in my yard.

Reflections

I left behind people I had grown close to to move here, but now I flock with different crowds. Sometimes they remind me so much of someone I knew before. Are they wearing disguises or did a special piece of my past follow me to my present?

Glory- A breathtaking geyser view

Morning glory geyser in Yellowstone
Morning Glory – Yellowstone National Park

Some places just take your breath away with their beauty. The Morning Glory geyser at Yellowstone National Park is one of them for me. Mine eyes have seen the glory…

Listen to the smallest voices in Nature

Listen to the smallest voices in Yellowstone

Listen to the smallest voices for they often have the most to say.

(Close-up of heat loving thermophiles near Dragon’s Cauldron at Yellowstone National Park).

Chatter

Black and white and full of chatter. No, it’s not a newspaper; it’s a bird.

Distinctive black and white plumage and raucous calls make this bird easy to identify. Its unusually long tail gives it a unique silhouette. A magpie.

Their loud calls are often heard in the wild places they live in. They are also master imitators. Is that hawk you hear or is just a magpie?

Magpie perched in sagebrush by Siobhan SullivanFrom a distance they just look like a black and white bird. Look a little closer. Their plumage catches every little bit of light and reflects it back in an iridescent glow.

Some see them as smart opportunists while others see them as pests. Are they using their voice and brains to get ahead or get under your skin?

Not everything you see in black and white should be taken at face value. Look for colorful reflections. Listen beyond the chatter. Forgive those who use what they think will get them ahead to their advantage.