18 July 2014

Simple vacation

Most of the time when you really need to, you cannot get away. Take the last couple of days for instance: with the worsening situation in Gaza, the horrific take-down of a plane over the Ukraine, and any number of small pieces of bad news piled on top, we are inundated with things we are helpless to change.

At times like this I seek relief nearby. In this case, our next door neighbors are in Ireland and have asked me to keep an eye on their place. This is a welcome task: their back yard is a beautiful haven.

I have only to go a few steps away to see gorgeous flowers, bees buzzing nearby. How lucky.

You should drink in relief where you can find it. It might not be far away, and it might be solitary. Sometimes it's best to take fortification in the simplest things.

My friends at the Friday Shoot-Out suggest "Vacations" as the theme this week. You can go there to see what that looks like in other parts of the world. Meanwhile I'm just gonna stare at the pond.

13 July 2014

Rodeo time

It isn't hard to imagine what's going on inside a little girl's head as she circles a ring on a patient old pony...

... rodeo dreams. A lot of girls growing up in the West dream of this: the perfect little quarter horse, a nice black hat, tailored shirt, fancy belt, good boots, and above all, the ability to ride lickety-split.

If the dreams don't pan out, well at least one can get a hat. If you've ever worn a cowboy hat, then you know it is imbued with special bad-ass powers.

As usual these were for sale at the local rodeo, the Philomath Frolic, always held the second weekend in July. I love going to this rodeo, which is a pageant of color, sound, tradition, patriotism, and the Old West. For one night I'm totally into it. Let's go to the rodeo!

Saddle bronc riding.


Barrel racing.

The second part of the rodeo is devoted to the super-macho sport of bull-riding, but first we must have an interlude: the Local Business Donkey Races. The donkey race participants are all local business sponsors who bring forth two employees, each pair matched with a random, recalcitrant donkey.

First one team member has to get on the donkey. As you see here this is much harder to do than it sounds, after a couple of long minutes causing the announcer to say impatiently "GET YOUR ASSES UNDER CONTROL."

This team is H. Storch Pollination Services. They are dressed like honeybees, of course. The harder you tug a donkey, the slower it moves forward and H. Storch did not win. Too bad! We were cheering for them because H is actually a friend.

On to the serious stuff: bull-riding. Such a terrible idea! What a ride, eh?

This alert horse and cowboy both watched the bull riding from a safe distance, ready to step in if needed.

At their side was a cow dog named Jake.

As soon as a rider goes down, the bull must be guided out of the arena. That was Jake's job.

Maybe the best spectacle of all is at the very end of the rodeo when the horses are turned loose, creating a gorgeous stampede around and around.

Then in a cloud of dust they disappear. Time to go home.

Western art sculpture, created entirely of horse shoes.
There were fireworks afterwards, but we didn't stay. The sky was aflame with color and I can't imagine that anything could have surpassed its drama.

02 July 2014

Do not say the word hobby

Recently I was at a party during which a Nice Person was trying to drag small talk out of me, exhausting for both of us, and I began to feel sorry for her that she ended up next to me. She asked if I had any "hobbies," causing me to blurt in a near-autistic response: "WHAT?"

Before being retired nobody ever asked what I did, and if it came up that I was a teacher of art, that was the end of it. Nobody wished to know more. And now, suddenly, people are mildly curious: what are you doing?

And I am like:  you didn't care before. why bother now?

To answer the question nicely, I should have said "There is a lot of space in my days now that didn't exist before, although I was just half-time when I was working and already an adept daydreamer and time-waster, one foot already in the Lazy Room, walking the dogs and studying the sky above."

Instead I told her that I photographed my Barbie dolls. I suppose that was a sort of test, which she passed-or at least she did not back away- and then talked to me for another agonizing 30 minutes, in which I found out she had a friend just like me, and a partner that preferred his boxer to her.

Anyway. What's up with asking about "hobbies?" Isn't that an antiquated term? I don't like that word. Never ask anybody that! Even if they collect stamps, because it isn't a hobby, it's an interest, or better yet a passion. I like it that some people are passionate about stamps, and they should never have to call it a hobby.

24 June 2014


Truth is by far the best. But  small lies, now, they are tricky little gems. 

I'm fine... 

Naaah, I'm just tired... 

I have read and agreed to the terms and conditions...

Exaggerations are sort of like lies, and we bloggers do it constantly. I understand and appreciate it, usually. For example, I take okay photos, but they aren't Pulitzer prize winners. They aren't "great," although it makes me happy when people say so. However I would improve faster if somebody said "you should have cropped the bottom 1/3 & raised the exposure." That would be welcome and helpful.

Once I read a post in which the guy talked about how he lost a  dog as a child, and he and his mom lived near a busy road, so...yeah he was sad because he imagined the worst outcome. He was probably right. But I said:

I was driving along that highway 20 years ago, and I saw a dog meeting your description. You're right! She was in the road. I pulled over. I was surprised when she came to me...I put her in my car because I didn't know what else to do. It started to rain, so I took her home & brought her in the house. What a nice dog, playful and friendly. We kept her. She slept at the foot of the bed. She lived a long and happy life. She died in her sleep when she was 15 years old. I never knew she was your dog. I hope you're alright with this.

It was a lie, but it may have been close to the truth. Was that wrong?

We all tell lies, every day of our lives. Some are big and bad, and some are small and good.

19 June 2014

A trip to the coast

The Pacific Ocean meets the Oregon coast only about an hour west of our house. We go there sometimes to get away from things, to enjoy some seafood, and to experience the full-on forces of weather.

In fact we just returned from a trip to the coast, where we stayed in tiny Depoe Bay, equipped with no grocery store, no medical facility, no schools, no grocer, and one traffic light.

That's our hotel on the upper left.
If you turn at that light, you find yourself at the harbor, which is filled with fishing boats.

There are 7 harbor seals in this photo.
Every night the resident seals nap at the edge of the harbor.

Carving in front of Gracies's Sea Hag, a restaurant and bar.
Depoe Bay is a sleepy little place, not without its charms.

We walked past this caramel corn place a dozen times and failed to buy any...what's up with that? Next trip I have promised myself a bag of it.

Oregon is home to some serious place names, every one of them for a good reason: Desolation Peak, Poverty Gulch, Dead Man's Pass...this is a picture of Cape Foulweather, named by Captain James Cook in 1778.

 Cape Foulweather was the first place on the Northwest coast to be named by Cook.

Sitting on top of Cape Foulweather, 500 feet above the sea, is a hardy little building originally built in the 1930's as a coffee shop. It's a gift shop now, with arguably one of the best scenic vistas on the planet.

True to form, Cape Foulweather delivered drama. The rain came at us, then the sun.

Moolack Beach
 According to the Oregon Beach Bill of 1967, the public has "free and uninterrupted use of the beaches" so there are numerous easements allowing people to get to the state's beaches. There is no such thing as a private beach here.

On Tuesday night at sunset there was a group of Mexican kids celebrating their team's good game against Brazil in the World Cup.
 Public access to the coast is one of the things I love about Oregon. Yet the beaches are not at all crowded; perhaps it's because the people are so spread out.

 Much of the shoreline is quite rocky, and the water is cold.

 Water is nature's sculptor.

The coast of Oregon is a wildly beautiful place formed by wind, water, and long-ago lava flows, a place of zen. I hope you can visit some time, but you should bring warm clothes and be prepared for the weather.

This week I'm linking to Friday Shoot-Out, where you will find others posting about their beaches and shorelines. (I see that India, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany are already represented.)

12 June 2014

Game cam specials

When I first set up the trail camera in the far back of the yard, I obsessed over what it was doing. I checked its card every day. Would there be a cougar? How about some coyotes? The bobcat I've seen in the woods? However, day after day it was the same thing: just me or John going out the gate with Eddy and Reuben, plus a couple of does who routinely pass by. Birds swoop past, triggering the camera to take a shot, but never quick enough to capture them-unless they are turkeys lumbering over the fence.

What WAS this?
 Eventually I learned to leave the camera alone for weeks at a time, months even. Today I finally checked it. You know what? The darn thing is getting kind of creative on me. Check out mid-March at exactly 6:43:44 PM (full moon). Pretty abstract for a game cam.

 I love the night shots, like this one in which the eyes of both does shine in the dark. Seriously cool. I don't even care anymore that I'm not seeing fancy predators, just deer.

 This is a surprisingly nice pic of me leaving with the boys. The game cam loves pink.

Wow. Game cam? What is Reuben looking at?

And this, taken Tuesday morning. Bravo! You may not have seen a cougar, but you captured the sun, game cam. And that's pretty good.

09 June 2014

Wedding guest

Interstate-5 begins at the border of Canada and, after paralleling the Pacific Ocean and connecting all three west coast capitals, it terminates at the border of Mexico. It passes just on the other side of the little hills you see here, between Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon. 

Every time I travel that mighty highway I think how nice it would be to pull over, climb to the top of a basalt-laden hill and with knees-to-chest, spy upon those who live there. Who are they? What do they do? Can they hear my car as I speed past?

On Saturday, although I never climbed the hill, I did get my wish: a little glimpse of a farm wedding in the Willamette valley. I didn't know the bride or groom (the connection was through John), so it was a chance to just...be a guest, a teeny bit of a spy.

I didn't hear I-5 at all. The peonies, however, were a cacophony of color and scent.

The sound of country music was dominant.

Weddings are lovely events, and I especially like it when they occur outside. Back in the day, they were mostly conducted within churches but I like this so much better. It's much more personal.

A candid shot of the photographers, taken from far away, of course.
I wouldn't want to be a wedding photographer though: all that pressure of getting the perfect shot and capturing every moment? No thanks.

The bride's little girls, now in a newly-formed family, watching the first dance.
Much better to be a simple guest, dilly-dallying around, taking it all in, photographing some things but not others. Yes, I had a good time there, just east of I-5, where life was full and happy. A great day, and so much fun to be an observer in a place I've wondered about.