Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter...

...and wishes for a really great Spring!

Magnolia Blossoms

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Week 13 of the 52s...The Wild

This morning before walking the dogs I was thinking this might just be the week I don't get to the 52s.  Unlucky 13 could become a reality as I've been too busy to think of something fun or new.

I shuffled through the brochures, flipped pages in a couple tourist guides, then found the map for the covered bridges.  I shoved it in my pocket, grabbed my camera and loaded the boys into the car.

After the walk, we drove north up the freeway for ten miles or so, then headed west into the wilderness--well, at that point it was mostly farmland, but it was definitely the outback.

The Rochester Covered Bridge, built in 1933.  It's apparently famous amongst covered bridge aficionados because of the lovely curved side windows and something called the Howe truss span, which to me just looked like big timbered Xs.  I didn't get a photo of them, mainly due to the fact this is a well-trafficked bridge and very narrow.  When cars came, I had to dash out of the bridge and off the road, though everyone was very friendly and drove slow enough for me to sprint out of the way.

Just ready to drive through to the other side...

On the other side, I've parked the car and crossed the road. The arched windows were very cool...

I wait until there aren't any cars coming, then decide to risk life and limb to get some shots out one of those windows...

But.  Just as I'm walking forward, I hear this odd rustling below me, under the road span.  I hate rustling.  Snakes and creepy things rustle.  Tentatively I peer over the guardrail...

Surprise, surprise.  A young turkey comes out of the brush, pays me no mind at all and keeps right on foraging...

So, I step inside the bridge and quickly take this shot of the river out one of the windows.  Then a flurry of cars came and I decided to call it good on the photos....

As I turn to walk back to the car, I see the turkey has somehow climbed out from under the bridge, up the slope and has crossed the road...

(In case you're wondering.  I can't speak for the chicken, but I know why the turkey crossed the road:  There was lots of fresh, green grass.

Back in the car, I drive over the bridge and come to the intersection where I can turn east toward the freeway, or continue west into the unknown.  I turn west.

Meandering along, Spring is verdant and lush in the valleys, there are baby lambs and calves, the sun is burning away the low-lying fog and I smile that I've made the right decision to explore.  Then I see a sign that says Wine Cave 4 Miles.  Wine cave?  I slow down, look left up this winding, mountainous, one-lane road to nowhere, and figure why not.  I tell the boys to fasten their seat belts and into the wild we go.

I got lost.  Seriously.  So, so incredibly lost.  We climbed up the mountain, curled down the other side, went up another, crossed ridges and streams, and the further we went the narrower the road became and the thicker the trees.  I thought once about turning around but by that time I wasn't exactly positive how many lefts and rights were behind me.  Could I even find my way back?  I wasn't...quite...worried.  Really, how lost can you be if you're still on a paved road?  Plus, occasionally I drove past homes, and wasn't too concerned by the Trespassers Will Be Shot signs, though when I thought I heard the twang of banjos playing the theme song from Deliverance, I did have a moment.

But, an hour and a half and quarter tank of gas later, we suddenly popped off a mountain road and there it was, right in front of us.  The Umpqua.  Like the early explorers, I couldn't be lost now, all I had to do was follow the river...

(Which, I might add, is a theory that only works as long as the road runs parallel to the blasted river!)

More driving until eventually I began to recognize some of the landscape, the mountains in the distance, even a radio tower that I can see far across the valley from my living room windows.  It still took a good half-hour to reach civilization, though I was almost reluctant to head toward it when I reached the crossroads.

It was a really great, most fun adventure.  Not only finding the bridge, but all the exploring and the vistas and the wildlife and beauty in an early Spring day.

Oh, and that Wine cave?  Clueless.  I never saw another sign once I'd turned off the main road.  Maybe some day I'll try to find my way back there.

On the other hand.  I'm not really fond of banjo music...

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Borg

It was bad enough getting hacked last month, resulting in the loss of hundreds of my irreplaceable photographs and documents, and having to purchase a new laptop, but what I never mentioned were the issues I had with my bank account in Scotland. 

I have to do digital banking, due to the inconvenience of that pesky 6,000 mile gap between here and there, which I've been doing with no problems for nearly two years.  Because of the hack job, I went to my account on the bank's website, just to reassure myself that all was well. 

And couldn't log on.  My password didn't work, and yet two weeks prior I had been online to verify my HM Revenue tax refund had been deposited.

Naturally, I freak out.  I have to wait until the following morning to call the bank due to the 8-hour time difference.  When I get through to a very helpful and kind fellow, we check my account and all is well.  Though, because I can't just pop into my bank in Edinburgh, they have to send me an access code through the mail to reactive  my inexplicably non-active account.  It should only take 7-10 days, says Chris.

Three weeks later, still no letter.  I call the bank again.  This time I get Sam, another very helpful and kind fellow.  After talking and going over details, we figure the first letter, for whatever reason, never got sent.  Sam puts me on hold so he can talk to the actual department who send out these damn letters.  I wait for nearly ten minutes.  When he comes back, he's angry and apologetic.  Apparently what he was attempting to do was have the digital dumbasses give me the access code over the phone, but while he's explaining my problem to them, they electronically initiate the process of sending me another letter.

Which invalidates the first letter should that miraculously appear.  He tells them what they've done is totally unacceptable as I have already been waiting three weeks to access my account!  Too bad for me.  Too late now.  Button's been pushed.  Nothing to be done. 

I plan to call the bank this morning as three more weeks have passed whilst waiting for the second letter.  I've kept a firm grip on my temper, remained nice and polite, but now I've had enough.  However, last night when the boys and I walk to the mail box, lo and behold, the letter has arrived. 

This morning I sit down with my bank details, the letter and a sigh of relief that my six-week ordeal is finally over.

I put in my details, the code, and...wait...what?  Why do I have to reconfirm my account details?  All I want to do is put in the damned frigging bloody bugger-all sodding code!  I go through all the hoops of name, address, blah blah, then hit Next so I can put in my activation code and get on with my day.

The activation code I have used has expired, but they will send me a letter, that I should get in 7-10 days with my new code.

I stare in horror at this message.  NO!  I don't want a new goddamn letter or code!  I have it in my hand! 

Then I notice the date on the letter. 

It's the first one.  It took six weeks to be delivered.  That means the second letter is still three weeks out and will also be invalid when it eventually comes because today the third letter has been electronically sent from the online banking site.

Needless to say, I came unglued.  I can't scream and yell like I want to because the dogs would wig out, so I went downstairs and violently cleaned the garage, sweeping and snarling and mumbling and cursing until I had vented as best I could without tearing out my hair in utter frustration.

Monday I will get up at the crack of dawn to call the bank and though I want to rage against the juggernaut, it will change nothing.  I'll still have to wait. 

Resistance is futile.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

100 Words...Heart of a Poet

Heart of a Poet
March 28, 2013

“Here you are,” she said, walking into the study.

He looked up with a smile as she asked, “Is that one of the books you bought at the library sale?”  Bending to read the title, she grinned.  “Well, aren’t you the dark horse.”

“Still waters run deep.”  Pulling her down beside him on the couch, he whispered in her ear, “I was thinking of you when I bought it.”


“Yes.”  Voice soft, he began to read, loving her with words:

The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul…


Sonnet Seven, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Room At The Top

Wow, how did it get to be Wednesday already?  I've been busy, mostly with DIY chores including trips to Lowe's and Home Depot, then yesterday I had 8 yards of bark dust delivered which totally finishes off all the yard work I've been doing in the front lately.  

Just a small corner of the front.  My weeping cherry tree looks so cool with the dead Halloween oak as backdrop.  The Mexican feather grass is taking over the garden like Triffids...I expect world domination by next Summer.  It's so nice that everything is done and looks so good...

And no, don't say it.  Please, don't. I know it's temporary--yard work is never done--but just let me pretend for a few days, okay?

This morning, rainy and dreary, the boys and I went for a walk along the river.  I took my camera in case there were any new blooms that caught my eye.  Instead, as we approached the path that leads down to the river, I looked across at this large dead tree where there has been an abandoned bird nest for at least the two years I've been living here.

But wait.  I squint.  Do I see something...moving?

I unzip my hoodie, where I have stashed my camera, and zoom in on the nest.  It's a bit difficult to hold steady as I have two impatient dogs dancing at the end of their leashes, an umbrella, and now a camera...with just two hands.

Once I realize the nest is not empty, I ditched the umbrella, wrapped the leashes around my boot, and did some fast camera work as the dogs fidgeted and the rain fell...

Isn't this the funniest thing ever?  I truly expected to see one of the hawks, or even a Turkey Vulture as they have just returned from down south.  But a Canadian goose?  I also love that patch of grass at the front of the nest, like a little garden to decorate the homestead.

And I've gotta say again--for about the hundredth time: How great is my camera?

I'll keep my eye on Mother Goose and maybe before too long I'll be fortunate enough to see a wee baby or two one of these days.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sundays In My City...Trees

Remember when I posted about going to my local Visitors Center and loading up on a bunch of brochures?  My intent was to gather ideas for the 52s, and send my nephew in Scotland some fun stuff to look at about the Northwest.

Yesterday whilst cleaning out a pile of magazines and other paraphernalia like catalogs and junk mail, I decided to pare down the brochures and just keep the ones I'm truly interested in doing/seeing.

I came across one that I didn't remember picking up, though being a long-time tree hugger, it would make sense that I did.  It's about the Heritage Trees that are found all over state.  There are 45 of these amazing trees, picked for their importance in national, state or regional history.  It would be totally cool to find and photograph all of them, but for my immediate purpose, I was struck by the one in my very own town called the Courthouse Elm.

It was planted at the County Courthouse over one hundred years ago, and now dwarfs the large and imposing marble-columned facade of the courthouse.  I have driven past this place numerous times, but for some reason, I never took the time to actually look.

This morning, after walking the dogs, I drove by, was briefly stunned at my blindness--it covers more than half of the building!--then I parked the car and took this shot...

I think it will be even more spectacular when all the leaves are out.  In the brochure photo you can't see the courthouse through the foliage.

Just because it's Sunday--and I've been reading a very good book this weekend that has totally captured my time so I haven't been on the computer--I want to share a few of my favorite photos from around my house and city...

Lost Limb

  Sun and Snow

Sunrise through Birch

I have such an affinity for trees.  I love to touch them, smell the bark, talk to the old ones.  Maybe in a past life I was Johnny Appleseed?  Or a wood sprite?  That would be cool...


I haven't posted a Sundays In My City lately, so this is my homage to the beauty of trees in my area.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Haiku Heights 213...Cacophony

Storm, 2013

Chaotic spring storm
Hail fractures against window
Tumultuous noise


The Haiku Heights prompt this week reminded me of a photo I took not long ago. The storm that day was loud and intense, with rain and hail wildly pounding against the glass.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Week 12.5 of the 52s...Bit Hasty

I was a tad precipitous yesterday when I posted Week 12 of the 52s.  Chalk it up to the thrill of being chosen to exhibit my photo which drove all other thoughts out of my head.

A few weeks ago, Diane, the artist who painted the watercolor that now hangs on my wall, asked me out to lunch.  That lunch was yesterday.

During the flurry of emails about where to meet, my only criteria was that it be somewhere I hadn't been before--sticking with the intent behind the 52s: new and hopefully fun.

On the edge of downtown is this tiny little cafe called the Daily Grind.  It's near the main post office and I have driven past it numerous times over the last two years but have never gone inside.

There aren't many tables, maybe ten or so.  The atmosphere was warm, welcoming and because of the small space, it was cozy.  I chose a spot at the window.  Diane arrived with much fanfare as everyone in the place knew her, so there was lots of chatting and laughing.  In fact, she spent the better part of our lunch waving to nearly everyone who walked by the window!

It's not often I blithely go out with a total stranger, but somehow--maybe due to her painting that spoke so beautifully to me--it seemed perfectly fine to connect with her.  We had a very delicious lunch, organic and fresh, and talked like we'd known each other for years.  It was actually really nice.

Two hours later, we finally left and walked to our cars which were parked right next to each other in front of this store that Diane said was a good place to shop, so in we went.  It reminded me of a smaller version of Anthropologie.  Cool, unique clothing, to-die-for shoes, loads of jewelry and many odd little bits and bobs...

Like this...

The Dammit Doll

Check out that face!  Seriously.  There was just no way I could resist this slightly voodoo-ish doll.  There were several of them--all colors of hair and body--in this basket at the front counter.  I chose this one.

Here's what it says on the chest:

I laughed out loud, then the woman who owns the store grabbed it by the legs and whacked it really hard on the counter.  My eyes widened, but she just grinned and said, "Try it!  It feels great!"  So, of course, never one to turn down a good whacking, I did it too.  And then I didn't hesitate to bring it home with me.

What a fun and silly way to deal with any future crap situations!

So.  I had a most excellent lunch in a new cafe, spent a few hours with a delightful, warm and kind new friend, and brought home a new way to vent when things go awry.  I'd call my Week 12 pretty damn good, all the way around...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week 12 of the 52s...Gone South

Remember Week 7...The Wait, where I put myself out on a scary limb and submitted three photos in the Photoworks NW 2013 photography competition?

I just found out that I am one of 24 who were selected!!  OMG!!  I'm so dancing with joy and excitement this morning!!  The show starts on Friday, May 10th, and I will be at the opening reception as an exhibiting artist.  How totally cool is that? 

The photograph that was chosen is one of my true favorites so I'm doubly pleased.

Gone South...

I'm having a very nice moment right now.  What a great first day of Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sod's First Law...

Do you ever wonder about the peculiar way things sometimes play out?  Innocent things, small things--the slight pressure of a gas pedal, the sun breaking through clouds--little moments that can change the tempo of a simple day.

Sunday, walking the boys at the VA compound, I decided to pop into the grocery story when we were finished.  There are two entrance/exit points, the South gate and the North.  Since I had parked at the south end and the main road to the grocery was out the other gate, I leisurely drove the winding, narrow road through the grounds.  It's a beautiful place, as I've mentioned before, and I always drive less than the 15 mph speed limit; this is a hospital zone after all.  Besides, the flowers and trees are just beginning to show signs of life and I enjoy the slow drive.

I come to the stop sign at the three-way intersection.  If I carry on straight ahead, I will continue the long loop road around to the South gate again, the left turn leads to the Emergency area of the hospital, and the right turn takes me directly to the main thoroughfare and the store.  I only have to drive less than two city blocks and I'm out of the complex.

Turning right, I'm thinking about the store when suddenly red/blue lights flash behind me.  Well effing hell.  I glance down at the speedometer...unbelievably it reads a notch below 20 mph.  Crap.  I pull over, the cop gets out of his car, all serious and cranky, while I'm thinking of the dozens and dozens of times I've driven through this place at 10 mph.

He starts right in with the federal property spiel, how my ticket for speeding means Federal Court in front of a Federal Magistrate, and more threats words to that effect, until finally he winds down enough for me to tell him that for over two years I have driven under the speed limit, and I'm very sorry that within feet of the exit, I wasn't paying attention.  But he doesn't care about the many, many times I have driven slower than posted.  No, he only cares that right in that moment I was speeding.  I apologize again, and again, then with a final scowl and another warning to heed the 15 mph limit in the future or else, he waves me on.

I stewed about this most of Sunday.  Why, in the cosmic joke scheme of things, did I not get karma credit for every other time I drove slow?  Why, in one moment of forgetfulness, was there a cop in the exact time and place to nail me?  Why don't all the good deeds that have gone before outweigh the one minor transgression?


Yesterday, it's overcast and cool.  I have a ton of work to do in the garden.  I gather up the wheelbarrow, rake and tools, put on my gloves and start to work on the front.  At first it's not too bad, though the work is grueling.  There's nothing quite like that first day of gardening, is there?  You have this dimwitted idea that you're in shape, but a few hours of digging, pruning and raking and you realize the stupidity of that notion.

When I reach the point of no return--piles of debris, twigs, leaves, branches, weeds, the flotsam and jetsam of the front garden's clean-up--the sun suddenly appears in the sky like an alien laser beam.  The temperature rises almost instantly, and I'm bathed in sweat.  But now I can't stop.  I have to haul these many piles out of the front yard, down the drive, across the road, and dump them down the embankment.

Eight loads later, I am nearing extinction.  My hoodie has long been tossed aside, my tee shirt is plastered to my back, and I know my face must be a lovely shade of tomato red based on the heat waves melting my eyeballs.

The one day I decide to garden because it's cool and overcast.

It reached 76* before I was finished.  It took a cold shower, two bottles of water, and the rest of the afternoon to cool off.  The intense workout to muscles used only when gardening, and the potential brain damage from heatstroke?  That recovery could take days.


This morning when the alarm went off, I reached out as I always do and slapped my hand over the snooze button.  This gives me five more minutes.  Five wonderful, delicious minutes.  I roll over and snuggle down under the duvet and am instantly asleep.  Five minutes later, I fling my arm out, hit the snooze and fall back asleep.  The third time, I shut off the alarm for real, but still lay there without getting up.

The bed feels so comfortable and cozy, the pillow gently cradles my head, and I'm cocooned in heavenly warmth, serene in the quiet before the day has to officially begin.  Why does this feeling of bliss feel so compellingly wonderful, just before I have to leave it?


Sod's First Law loosely translates to "mocked by Fate." 

Yeah, that pretty much says it all...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Week 11 of the 52s...Animal Attraction

Remember the reception at the Arts Center that I missed last week because of the notebook issues and brain meltdown?  Well, this morning whilst walking the boys around the VA complex, I decided to go to the exhibit.  It was a pleasant, cooler morning so the boys would be perfectly fine in the car, especially after their walk, drinks and treats.

When I drove past the front of the Arts Center, I had to laugh.  For Week 6 of the 52s I had taken a photo of the building, though wasn't really paying attention and just took a shot from the parking lot of the back entrance.  What a dope. 

Here's the very elegant and lovely building, from the front...

There are actually two exhibits going on as it turns out.  The smaller show is works created from wood, though I didn't see a particular name to identify it.  Each piece was truly a work of art, and the skill it must take to fashion such things from wood is astounding.  Here are but three...

Orchid Vessel by Paul E. Foshay

            Ta Ki by Richard H. Worthey

Madrone Sunrise by Donald Snethen

But I was most interested in the main exhibit, Animal Attraction...

Peter Alsen is becoming one of my favorite whimsical potters.  I've never met him, but based on his funny and colorful creatures, he must have a great sense of humor.  He had two pieces in the show...

Animal Stack

 Horse Hair Bear

This next piece was totally captivating, not only because it was life-sized, but there was such movement and grace.  Mare and colt, made from driftwood and metal.

Fire and Ice by Brenna Tyler

I'm a quilter and have been for many years, though since returning to America, I haven't done a thing.  That doesn't mean I can't recognize greatness from across a room.  This was absolutely jaw-dropping.  The expertise, the sheer volume of quilting--the piece measured about 5' wide and 7' in length--was just breathtaking.  I stood in awe for several minutes...

Bullseye by Cassandra Williams

This closeup shows a tiny portion of the incredible detail, and the depth and variety of stitching involved...

Along a different wall was another art quilt, equally stunning.  It measured somewhere around 7' across and 5' long.  (That's my eyeball measure, nothing accurate).

Welcome to Kodiak by Sheila Finzer

The large bear in the center must have had a million stitches; his fur was almost fluid.   Here's a closer view of the bear in the upper right hand corner.  Imagine the entire piece in these intricate, tiny must have taken years to make this.  No doubt why the price tag was over $10,000.

And then, as I was walking out of the main gallery, I noticed a small sign pointing to an upstairs section of the building that I didn't realize was open to the public.  It seemed there was a permanent exhibit up there, but when I got to the landing I found something even better.

There, in all her glory, was an old-time photograph of the original Hebe.  She looks exactly like the controversial replacement statue that I posted about last month.  It's really cool to see the difference in the background between my photo and this one.  Apparently there wasn't much traffic on Main Street in 1908...

It was a very nice way to spend a Saturday morning.  I could have taken so many more photos, but instead maybe these few will inspire you, dear readers, to find your own art galleries and exhibits to see, to lose yourselves in the beauty of creative genius, or to just take a moment out of a busy world to refresh the spirit.


N.B.  As always, click on the photos for a closer view...