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: Shapes and Designs

“Nature’s constantly screaming with all its shapes and scents: love each other! Love each other! Do as the flowers. There’s only love.” –  Octave Mirbeau

“The whole of nature is an endless demonstration of shape and form. It always surprises me when artists try to escape from this.” –  Henry Moore

“Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” –  Kahlil Gibran

There is no way to encompass or exhaust the variety of shapes and designs in Nature in one blog post! (And why would anyone want to try?) I offer just a small sampling from my photo files and encourage you to look with new eyes all around you and capture a few of your own favorites. If you’d like to join in the challenge and share your finds, visit our host’s blog HERE for how to do that. You’ll see on Patti’s site some wonderful examples of design in natural and man-made art.

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: Street Art

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.”
― Raymond Salvatore Harmon

My daughter’s partner is working on establishing himself as a club music producer under the label Houseium. He asked me and my sister to do a photo shoot for his promotional material, so we went into Eugene, OR to find some colorful street art as a backdrop for his portraits.

I have become one of Houseium’s top fans on Facebook. I am really impressed by Jake’s ambition to learn to apply new technical skills, new dance skills, and new musical skills to his art. I have a BA in Voice Performance. I studied Classical music and performed my senior recital in four languages, interpreting four different period styles of music from the Baroque era to the 20th Century. Jake is just beginning to learn to read music. But he knows what he likes and what sounds good to him. I have to admit that I don’t listen to his genre of music much or his music in particular. Unless he’s putting on a dance party for the family! Then I dance seamlessly through his array of a couple of hours of music and enjoy every minute!

Thanks to Patti for hosting this week’s challenge and choosing a subject that is new to me and very fun!

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: Seen Better Days

“Autumn wins you best by this its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.” Robert Browning

Last week’s Photo Challenge was all about Autumn color, the beautiful garb of aging, death and decay. How appropriate that Tina chooses for this week’s challenge the idea of how dilapidated, vintage, older things that have “seen better days” capture the photographer’s eye as things of loveliness and interest.

“The love of old things is a way of respecting time.”
― Wu Ming-Yi

 “Of all the footprints, that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme.” 
― Gautama Buddha

The more I study the beauty of aging and death, the more I am drawn into the transformation of cells and matter. Consider that Life is marked by change, that change is the continuation of Life in new forms. Below is a photo of a petrified tree stump in the Flourissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, illustrating the change from vegetable into mineral.

Is it any wonder we photographers are fascinated by the visual evidence of the dance of Life and Time? As humans, we are definitely a part of this process. As humans, we take our experience and create Art to celebrate it.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: The Colors of Autumn

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
– George Eliot

I can never get enough of the breathtaking beauty of Fall color. Visit Amy’s post for exquisite examples and join in the photo challenge! Just CLICK HERE.

Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: Artificial Light

“Talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity.
We use it.” – Maya Angelou

“What is a soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.” – Ray Charles

“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” – William Faulkner

The world is turning, and change is in the air. It is actually raining, and darker each day when I wake up. The fire danger is lower, and I breathe easier. I am spending more time with my family and anticipating visits and holidays. This week’s theme is Artificial Light, and I realize that my tendency is to put the camera away when I am indoors in “civilization”. I spend most of my time in natural light, I think, since I started living in remote natural places. And during the pandemic, I have not been in theaters making music and acting. There is something about rehearsal space, the lighting of a stage, and a well-lit display that is art and artifice at the same time. I oscillate between the natural and artificial and realize that it is a human privilege and responsibility. There is grace in the balance, there is Light and Power to be reckoned with.

Thank you, Ann-Christine, for your Northern perspective on the Light in our human lives. Please visit her post to see more about this photo challenge.