Reub's journey

08 May 2019

Malheur, 2019

A ranch not far from Malheur headquarters
Three years ago there was an ill-conceived occupation at the Malheur headquarters here in eastern Oregon. Poorly-informed, poorly prepared, armed men came here from other states and created a stand-off that lasted about 6 weeks. One of them was shot and killed, several served short sentences, and the others got off scot-free. The damage that was done both to the land and to the community is slowly healing.

Buena Vista overlook
This is a place that  John and I hold dear.

A flooded field, private land
It is wide open. At this time of year, both the refuge and the private lands surrounding it are host to thousands of migrating birds.  We saw hundreds of ibises. They nest in the Great Basin of Oregon, and migrate to Mexico when winter approaches.

The Great Basin is a stark place and you shouldn't count on your cell phone to work. You must put away the phone and watch the snow-melt fill up shallow places. We probably saw 10 species of water birds here.

Mostly it is high desert, sage brush everywhere.

Look up! See the swallows. They have a nest in that tree.

At Benson Pond
If you are a careful observer you will see other nests. A great horned owl, perfectly camouflaged.

Benson Pond
Water abounds now, but only for a few precious weeks.

Near Krumbo Lake
The ancestors of the Paiutes were here long ago.

On Coyote Butte
Here and there you may find a flower.

Krumbo Lake
If you know what you're doing, you may catch a trout, and there will be few to notice.

Above Krumbo reservoir
In the sky above the sage brush and water are millions of newly hatched midges. They will only live a few days, just long enough to find mates. They hum, but do not bite. What beautiful, harmless little lives. It is, I believe, a perfect existence.

05 February 2019

Snow Flowers

It's been some time since Ed or Reub has contributed to that body of knowledge known as Very Little Science. We hope that you are edified.

 The rare and lovely Snow Flower made an appearance today.

 This trumpet-shaped beauty is related to the lily family.

 Snow Flower gardens are difficult to maintain and are enjoyed for very brief times.

Snow Flowers are pollinated, as you can see, by ladybugs.

 The ladybugs lie in wait for a chance to do their work.

 There are many kinds of Snow Flowers. Pictured here is the Spiky Snow Flower, which was also in bloom today.

The Spiky Snow Flower, beneath it's prickly exterior, has a kind and nurturing heart. This colony of Spikies lovingly cares for an adopted oak leaf. The rescue leaf was on its way to certain destruction before being taken in, and shows its gratitude in every way that it can.

Indeed, Snow Flower plants are the unsung heroes of the leaf-rescue-world.

Snow Flowers are divided into two types. This is the long-haired variety.

Here we see the short-haired Snow Flower.

Caution must be exercised around the Tarantula Snow Flower, which is given to surprise attacks against intruders, usually aimed at their heads or the back of their necks.

Well guys, time to make tracks. Thanks for reading. Remember if you saw it on the internet, it must be true.

22 January 2019

Fire, Water, Air

Hawaii's summery weather and gorgeous landscape beckon people from darker climes in the middle of winter, but early November was a good time to visit this land of fire, water, and air. And now in late January it's fun to think about it.

There were moments in the interior of the Big Island that I could have sworn I was back in Wisconsin: so green and rolling, dotted with cattle, the air balmy and soft.

But mostly the landscape of the Big Island was loaded with the drama of violent explosions, rugged cliffs, and the vivid blue of sky and ocean.

The volcanic origin of the Hawaiian Islands is a profound part of the indigenous culture.  Religion, story-telling, music, and dance all reflect the unique sense of place. In a land created by the whims of molten lava and surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, the themes of great legends are woven with both violence and deliverance.

Hula, as practiced by a dance group in Volcanoes National Park, was an impressive spiritual experience.

We were lucky to be there when this group performed, a great opportunity to learn about the mighty gods and goddesses of Hawaii. The recent activity of Mt. Kilauea meant that the dancers themselves had increased their energy and involvement in the past year.

The very top of Mt. Kilauea steams at nightfall. The eruption of 2018 resulted in the visible lava being drained away, leaving a gaping caldera, closing most trails, and ruining the museum that stood at the rim.

A section of Devastation Trail remains open to the public. This area was laid flat by a fiery eruption in 1959.

A lava flow from yet another eruption at the base of the mountain, running to the sea.

Cooled lava forms beautiful patterns at your feet in this isolated part of Mt Kilauea.

Here are long stretches of volcanic rock, sometimes dotted with petroglyphs. There is no sound of traffic, no potable water, and only the sound of the wind and the heat of the sun. This area remains a holy place for indigenous Hawaiians.

Hawaii is a favorite getaway for people who tire of Oregon's dark winters. It's common for Oregon cars to have sea turtle decals on them, and a sure sign that the driver has been to the islands. No, our car does not sport such a sticker, but I do carry with me the clear memory of a group of sea turtles resting on a breezy, obsidian beach, the waves crashing nearby. A symbol of beauty and peace dwelling in a land of fire, water, and air.

12 November 2018

Interior places

It was a breath of fresh air, a gift from one of John's former students. Would we like to stay in his mom's little house below Mauna Kea, Hawaii? She was going to be visiting the mainland, and it would be helpful.

It has been a year of tough things. My brother's death in January, and nearly catastrophic medical issues for a dear one in February, March and September...these events fell in a stretch of unrelenting political ugliness. A break sounded good, and Hawaii is one place that we had never visited.

 "You'll love the sun, and the beaches" everyone said. But we were headed mostly for interior places, and those were my favorite areas of the big island of Hawai'i, as lush and misty as Oregon. The house, a simple two room dwelling of a dedicated Buddhist, was imbued with gentle peace.

It was perfectly quiet except for the lowing of cattle, call of roosters, and the sounds of birds and frogs.

Kahili Ginger

The breeze, lit with the fragrance of flowers, was soft.

The landscape, a tangle of colors.

 Pattern everywhere.

A visual feast

Papaya in season were 5 for $2.

'Akaka Falls

Oh, it was easy to forget about the beaches when there was all of this: exploring the interior places was surely the richest experience of the trip, and a balm for the spirit.

11 May 2018


 Hello there perfect little one. Welcome, welcome into this beautiful, troubled world.

 We mothers have no idea at all what we are getting into, but we do it anyway. It is treacherous and uncomfortable, but irreversible. Not especially heroic.

What a big world out there, but when you are a parent there's a shift.

 Keeping the new ones fed and safe is the thing. Other stuff must wait.

The world is a dangerous place but you let go little by little. 

Other people come into your children's lives. Oh man. You're on a wheel that never stops, and still you are responsible, because there's no stopping the wheel.

 And for your whole life you are the model. It is a heavy responsibility no matter how old you are, or they are.

The pain, the loss, the sheer beauty of it all. That is what you have, and you emerge from it. 

Hey everybody, honor your mother and your family, for it is important and surely you have done this tangled thing together.