In the city...

Lunch with a Hawaiian theme, a table in the sun, and a killer view of Seattle. Yum!


Gray horse, gray barn

This place draws me like a magnet... each time I come, the old gray horse is grazing in the pasture, with the gray barn watching over him.


Umptanum light...

The hike to Umptanum Falls brings you right to the top of the waterfall. There's a shallow pool at the top, and the water foams and spills right over the edge of a basalt cliff.

If you want to see the waterfall straight on, you scramble up a steep rock slope (with the help of a rope) across the top of a slot canyon, and down the other side. It's worth every rocky step.

We arrived at the wrong time of day for good photographs, but that's how it happens some times. But as we hiked back toward the trailhead, I got my reward: perfect light out of the west to shine through a grove of aspen trees.


In the nest...

We stopped at Cultura Winery on our way home from Bend to pick up our wines from last fall, and spend time with these people who have become friends. In the courtyard we took refuge from the sun, and sampled wines and talked. In the screen of shrubs, I spotted a nest of robins: four babies, and one adult. I think the adults were trying to encourage their babies to fly... one adult after another would do "fly by's" with a beakful of worms, but not landing to feed their offspring. The babies were fully fledged, so it's time to fly.


Lone tree...

On OR-97 heading north, caching and checking out the side roads, seeing what you cannot see from the highway. We found this small cemetery, half Catholic, half Methodist... one on one side of the road, the other on the other side of the road. I only had eyes for this lovely lone tree, guarding the headstones.



I can't deny it... it's sad to see a beautiful old church, abandoned. I understand the realities of maintaining old buildings, how a small community can (and must sometimes) realize that they cannot afford the upkeep. As an owner of a nearly 100-year-old farmhouse, I understand this better than most.

But still, letting a church, a holy place, fall into ruin... it is sad, whatever the reasons.

I have to be grateful for the chance to photograph such a place, to record the beauty of a building in decay, before it is gone forever.

The doorways, arched and square, line up through the building.

The stained glass windows are gone, but the bones of the building are still there, including the beautiful clear fir floors.

Just up the hill is the original schoolhouse for this tiny community.

It's a much-photographed place, this tiny community of Grass Valley, Oregon. I will definitely come back again with my camera.


The unexpected...

It rained and blew in town yesterday, but there was still plenty of blue sky, and the snowy mountains were spectacular. As we walked the streets, shopping and enjoying lunch at Deschutes Ale House, I couldn't help think about the parallels between weather and life. Living in the Northwest, that's a comparison you can draw nearly every day.

As we headed south toward the condo, another thing was clear: we were headed straight toward a wall of weather... snow. I couldn't stop smiling, because of all the other weather conditions we experienced today, only a good snowfall was missing.

The flakes were huge as we drove into Sunriver.

From the deck, I watched the snow fall through beams of sunshine. I'm used to rain and sun at the same time, it's common in the Northwest. But this was my first experience with snow and sun.


The Sparrow...

I can never resist a cute historic building, no matter where (or when) I find one. We were having fun on the Bend Ale Trail, and between two breweries, there it was. A tiny old brick building, much patched and repaired, and re-purposed into the cutest bakery.

We ducked inside to check out the wares, and to get out of the wind and rain. We left with a loaf of artisan bread and a fruit tart and a couple of cookies for later. The tiny space in front of the counter was full of people waiting for lunch; the house-made soups and sandwiches looked great.

The Sparrow is on Scott Street, in the Old Iron Works Arts District. The bakery shares a beautiful courtyard with the Workhouse and the Cindercone Clay Center., also in restored brick buildings.


Heading for Bend...

We came to Bend for a lot of reasons... time with friends, a last chance to see snow in the mountains, some geocaching, some golf (for our friends), and beer. Some of my favorite beers are made right here in Bend.

But at home in the condo, it's home-cooked food and good wine. We both raided our cellars for some special bottles to share. I'm pretty sure we brought way too much!


In bloom...

When you consider how few days of sun we've had since spring began, and how few of those days I actually had time to sit in the dirt and pull weeds, I'm really pleased with how the yard is looking this year.

Right now, all the perennials are up, and so far, it's a study in green and purple (one of my favorite color combinations!) Only blue and purple flowers are in bloom right now: forget-me-nots, bluebells, lilacs, and hellebores. Next to bloom will be the iris (native purple with yellow beards), columbine, and the bright orange poppies, and then the day lilies, garden phlox, and peonies.

The big hanging fuchsia is a Mother's Day gift for my mother-in-law, but we get to enjoy it for a few days.

It always seems to rain buckets right after the lilacs burst into bloom. This year, it's rained buckets before, during, and after.

Please ignore the occasional dandelion that may appear in these photographs. The weeds (and the blackberries) grow faster than I can weed.

The patio borders are easy to weed, so I save them for last. The azaleas are just finishing and the hostas are up. In the next few days the rhododendrons will start to bloom, one right after the other through June and into July. The pink dogwood is blooming, and everything else is waiting for its turn: perennial bachelor's buttons, lady's mantle, orange poppies, peonies, day lilies, and veronica spicata.
There are pots of everything tucked into the gardens here and there, rescues from last year that need a permanent home.

The flowers are blooming in an odd cycle this year, after our cold and wet winter. Did you know that we measure weather in two six-month periods: October 1 through March 31, and April 1 through September 30? I didn't, until we broke the rainfall record for the second year in a row. Can you picture 44.7 inches of rain in just 7 months? Our weather is always big news around here.

Anyway, back to the garden. All that rain is the reason for the lushness of the perennials, and even though they all seem to be late bloomers in 2017, they're making up for lost time by growing into huge plants way ahead of schedule.

So I hope this little gardening diary will help me compare growth and bloom against the garden next year.

But if we head for a third year of record-breaking rainfall, all bets are off!



Occasionally we find a nest that's been abandoned, and it's always so sad. I wonder what made the adult birds leave their eggs. Were they scared away by a predator? Did they build too close to the road, and get spooked by cars?

One year, a bird built a nest in the Christmas wreath that hung beside the front door. Our coming in and out of the house eventually was too much for the bird, and it abandoned its eggs. I moved the wreath to the wall of the garage, and the next year, a bird built its nest there and raised two babies.

When we mow, we try and keep an eye out for nests in the grass, but they're hard to spot. If we do find one, we leave a large area of tall grass around it, to provide some protection.

Soon it will be time to mow the pastures, before the quail are ready to nest. Then we won't mow again until fall, so the quail (and the occasional pheasant) are safe until they're ready to fly.



I didn't plant them. But one spring day, I saw the first blush of blue in my garden. Just one or two small clumps at first, spreading year by year, until there's a carpet of forget-me-not's at the farm. I love their simple shape, their blue and pink color, their constancy and willingness to thrive.

It's not just on my little plot of ground that they thrive... everywhere I look, I see them. In yards, alongside the roads, and thick carpets of them lining the edge of my favorite trails.

My mother loved them, and loved any signs that nature was overtaking whatever man designed. So when I see the forget-me-not's growing on the side of a trail, I think of her.



These are the two constants of winter and early spring in the Northwest. Rain, and fog, and often, snow. And all that water brings endless green. Moss and lichen and evergreen trees are constant reminders of our temperate climate. But in spring comes the reawakening: the bright green of new leaves and the greening of the grass, and the hillsides turn green again.

And did I mention the moss?


In bloom...

The lilacs were there when we bought our little farm. Four bushes, ten feet high, spaced out along the fence between the young orchard and the paddock that enclosed the chicken coop. The trunks were sturdy, and so big I couldn't wrap my hands around them. I still remember that first spring at the farm, when the lilacs bloomed. I cut armloads to bring inside, and put a vase in each room in the house, even the laundry room.

For years the lilacs bloomed without fail, then a couple of especially hard winters took their toll. Branches broke under the weight of ice, and one shrub was killed. To save the remaining lilacs, we decided to cut them back and hope that new plants would eventually grow up to replace them. It took a few years, but they're back, lush and green and bursting with buds. In just a few days, I'll be able to cut blooms to bring inside, to fill the rooms with the sweet smell of spring.

Lilacs aren't the first thing to bloom here, but I think they're the flowers I look forward to the most. I love the fragrance, the gorgeous color of the buds, the sheer presence of their color next to an orchard in full bloom. But I especially love that these lilacs have been here just as long as my old farmhouse.