Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Odds and Ends

“A Miscellany is a collection without a natural ordering relation.” ― John Edensor Littlewood

This morning, Tina of Travels and Trifles invites us to post images that may never fit into any Challenge category, so I went looking for recent captures that I just…like. For no particular reason. Turns out, however, that I could say truthfully that they do have something in common. They were all taken within an hour’s drive from my home in Oregon.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

I hope you find a huge collection of various things to delight you this week, close by your home. Living local has many environmental and social benefits and can help heal the planet and our selves.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Travel Has Taught Me…

…that you don’t have to go far to get a completely different perspective. Last week, temperatures were in the 30s (F) and the fog in the Willamette Valley was so thick you couldn’t see three feet in front of you. But just over the mountains, just an hour’s drive away, the sun was shining on the coast and temperatures were pushing 60 degrees Fahrenheit!

…that sustaining life on our planet is a matter of delicate balance. I hadn’t been to the coast in a week. The day after our last visit, a tsunami generated by the volcanic eruption near Tonga hit the Pacific Coast of Oregon, carving cliffs on the shore and depositing piles of driftwood.

…that the Earth’s beauty is vast and easily accessible. Look up, look down, look deeply, look broadly. Colors and patterns and exquisite details are everywhere.

…that finding treasure is within reach, the moment you set out from your habitual routine. Moving during a pandemic makes building community difficult, but by stepping out of my little apartment and making intentional connections with local groups, I have found some precious new friends.

Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and sharing some fabulous photos from her world travels. Click HERE to see her post and learn how to participate.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Double Dipping and Community Building

Each Saturday the Lens-Artists team presents an opportunity for our followers and/or visitors to add their images and accompanying thoughts on a subject for all to see. This week we’re suggesting that in addition to our challenge, you explore and link to some of the other creative opportunities our friends and fellow challengers make available in the WP blogosphere (or any other sites where you post images).” – Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles

I think the greatest lesson that I’ve learned during this pandemic is that Community is essential to individual mental health and resilience and may be the key to understanding how to live in harmony with Life on a larger scale. So what better way to practice Community Building in my photo hobby than to check out and participate on other photo challenges and get to know new bloggers around the globe?

It’s an historic photo, I guess, because this kind of snowfall is not typical for mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon. It’s a fitting reminder of how unusual 2021 was…and how unpredictable 2022 will be. Let’s keep our eyes open and our community growing!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serene

“Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Being able to lighten up is the key to feeling at home with your body, mind, and emotions, to feeling worthy to live on this planet.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Clarity and decisiveness come from the willingness to slow down, to listen and look at what’s happening.” ― Pema Chödrön

“…The truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ― Pema Chödrön

“Precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go … are not something that we have to gain, but something that we could bring out, cultivate, rediscover in ourselves.” ― Pema Chödrön

“We sow the seeds of our future hell or happiness by the way we open or close our minds right now.” ― Pema Chödrön

I have been on a journey of mindfulness for more than a decade now as a way to metabolize the trauma of my husband’s death. One of the first books that I turned to was When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. The path to a peaceful life in my skin, in my mind, in my situation began with opening my eyes and seeing things exactly as they are…without telling a story or making a judgment about them. Photography is a beautiful art for exploring ways of seeing. While looking for a subject, framing a shot, and editing a shot, you can realize how perception and reality converge and depart. This exploration is about curiosity and courage, the same qualities that help you on your journey toward mindfulness and serenity.
I’ve chosen quotes from Pema Chödrön and photographs I took a few days ago -while walking down my driveway to get the mail – to illustrate SERENE for this week’s challenge. I was compelled to take along my camera because the sun was penetrating the fog in a way that made me think how unique and particular and impermanent that moment of elemental juxtaposition was. The environment around me changes visibly quite quickly here in the temporal rainforest of Oregon. Rain, vegetation, animals – everything is living and dynamic. As am I. Breathing deeply as I walked, step by step, through this reality, I became mindful of the serenity of simply being with things as they are. This is what I want to share, with a smile.
Thank you, Patti, for choosing a very worthy theme for this week! Click HERE to view her post and her invitation to participate.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Follow Your Bliss

“The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you really are happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call ‘following your bliss’.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

On Thursday, I headed out with my camera and a friend and spent four hours walking a forest trail through the William Finley Wildlife Refuge. I was surprised that so much time passed! I was also surprised that the rain never got heavy enough to make me think of heading back to the car. In the temporal rain forest of Oregon, there is so much to see, such tiny worlds of biodiversity everywhere that I find contentment in just keeping my eyes open and letting beauty wash in!

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
― Confucious

“We have to look deeply at things in order to see. When a swimmer enjoys the clear water of the river, he or she should also be able to be the river.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”― Albert Einstein

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive…”
― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

My new Oregon home is the perfect place to immerse myself in the beauty of being alive; of seeing Life all around me; of connecting my body, mind, and soul to the ongoing experience of living – from spore to plant to decomposing matter and back to spore. In the face of global instability on every level from climate change to species extinction to social structures, it is bliss and contentment to turn away from fear and toward Nature, and to feel again the circle of Love that is Life.

Many thanks to our guest host for this week’s Lens-Artist Challenge, Lindy Low LeCoq. I am so glad she got her inspiration from one of my favorite authors and thinkers and invited us into bliss! If you would like to participate, click on her name above and follow her lead.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Interesting Architecture

“A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect
can only advise his clients to plant vines.”

-Frank Lloyd Wright

Gordon House, Silverton, Oregon

“Early in my career…I had to choose between an honest arrogance
and a hypercritical humility…
I deliberately choose an honest arrogance,
and I’ve never been sorry.”

–  Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Gordon House in 1957; it was completed four years after his death in 1963. It was originally situated with the Willamette River to the west and Mount Hood to the east.  
“It is one of the last of the Usonian series that Wright designed as affordable housing for American working class consumers, which—in 1939—were considered to have an annual income of $5,000–6,000 ($95,000 to $113,000 in 2021 dollars). The house is based on a design for a modern home commissioned by Life magazine in 1938…After Evelyn Gordon’s death in 1997, the house was sold to new owners David and Carey Smith, who wanted to tear it down to make room for a larger, more contemporary structure.” – Wikipedia. Eventually, the house was preserved and moved, bit by bit, 21 miles southeast to the Oregon Garden. It opened as a museum in 2004.

Just a few miles away from the Gordon House stands the Gallon House Bridge.

This bridge spans the Abiqua Creek and derives its name from Prohibition era bootleggers and moonshiners who would meet there to transfer their wares.

This next example of Oregon architecture is pretty new. It’s the house where I live, in the studio apartment above the garage.

As I type this, my landlord and his daughter (one of my housemates) are outside building a wood shed. They are sitting about 10 feet off the ground, nailing the roofing panels onto the ceiling joists. It’s been raining lightly, off and on, all day. The sun peeks out periodically. They built a little wood fire next to the building site to keep the group warm. Their 11-year old son and his friend are warming their hands at the fire and occasionally helping hold a board or pass a tool.
I am not much of a world traveler, and I don’t know much about architecture. I have seen unusual and elegant buildings here and there, but I rarely seek them out with camera in hand. What I appreciate most about architecture, I guess, is that it can be very useful for keeping us sheltered, warm and dry. Even if what goes on under the roof is illegal. (imagining bootleggers in Oregon especially need a covered bridge)

Thanks to Tina for hosting today’s Challenge and for showcasing some truly sophisticated and awe-inspiring architecture in HER POST. My humble examples are possibly only interesting to me, but thank you for visiting nevertheless. Stay warm and dry, folks!

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: A Day of My Week

A day of my week: Sunday. A day in the Wheel of the Year: October 31. Halloween. All Saints’ Eve. Samhain (saa-wn). Halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The beginning of a darker, wetter time in Oregon. The last day the marsh trails are open at the William Finley Wildlife Refuge before the over-wintering birds are given the privacy they deserve. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and my family joined me for a walk along the marsh and past the historic buildings. Here’s a gallery of shots from today.

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart—
Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My days are often spent just musing on Nature, the seasons, and the activities of flora and fauna. I have a lot of time to sit still, since I’m unemployed/retired. Most days, I don’t bother to bring a camera with me wherever I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see beauty all around me. I hope that you can say the same about the ordinary days in your week. Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s prompt. Please visit her site and join in. Click HERE to find out how.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Weird and Wonderful

This week’s challenge is hosted by Ann-Christine and invites us to find captures of the weird and wonderful. My thoughts center around defining what is sufficiently odd to be ‘weird’ and what arouses wonder. The subject of most of my photos is something in Nature, so then I become conscious that there’s a difference between ‘natural’ and ‘weird’.
In my mind, human beings push the boundaries of ‘weird’ more than any other species. And it becomes something of a wonderment how we celebrate the weird! In Portland, OR, there is a museum/novelty store called the “Freakybuttrue Peculiarium”. My 30-something kids find that kind of thing very entertaining, so we took a detour home from the airport to check it out.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.”
― Robert Fulghum

I do love my kids, and I love their weirdness! And I am often in awe and wonder over things in Nature that I find unfamiliar and unique, and I find them beautiful.

Lake Superior sandy bottom
Badlands National Park
Boxwork formations at Wind Cave National Park

Fly your freak flags with joy, people, and gaze in wonder at the world around! Happy Weird and Wonderful Weekend!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Ordinary Oregon

“Oregon welcomed me like a beloved child, enfolded me in her cool arms, shushed my turbulent thoughts, and promised peace through her whispering pines. ”
― Colleen Houck

“Oregonians don’t tan. They rust.” ― Unknown

I have now lived in Oregon for a year. The most ordinary things at hand here are extraordinarily beautiful: raindrops, rock, wood, plants, the ocean.

On any given day, what is at hand is something exquisite, alive, and breath-takingly complex in its interaction with its environment. Just like each one of us humans. I haven’t been around a lot of humans during this entire strange year, so I’m glad to have the company of these common things. Thanks to I J Khanewala, this week’s guest host for Lens-Artists, for inviting us to take another look at Ordinary things.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Inspiration

Inspiration…that moment when you draw in breath, a gasp, an awe-filled audible inhalation, the desire to take in the spirit of something beautiful, breath-taking.

I moved to Oregon exactly one year and one week ago. I have been inspired by something about it every single day I’ve been here, I think. The natural communities are incredibly diverse and resilient and interesting and beautiful. Today, for example, I joined a work party collecting camas seeds. These little seeds are nestled in the dried flower petals like beans in maracas. They shake and rattle as you walk through the meadow grass. Indigenous people roasted the bulbs of these plants as a food staple, high in natural sugars, similar to sweet potato. When I returned from this adventure, I walked down my driveway and began collecting blackberries from the invasive Himalayan canes that grow as a huge, prickly nuisance to most landowners, a deliciously irritating problem. They are everywhere. Free food!

This has not been an easy year for me by any means. It hasn’t been an easy year for most people. On top of the universal griefs and fears, I am new in town, isolated, unemployed, and missing my mother who died in October. There are always mornings when I find it hard to get up and get on with my life. But when I look out my window at OREGON, I find motivation to join the young hawks and the gentle deer, step outside and breathe in the rich scent of Douglas fir.

In such a setting, I feel like I belong to the Earth, like a tree taking root and creating a tall, strong life. I’m grateful to have this new inspiration in my life. If you’re curious about previous explanations of my blogging inspiration, visit THIS POST. Thanks to Patti for creating this challenge and sharing her beautiful photos.