Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

I go out for a walk just about every day - even in rainy weather. It helps me clear my thoughts, clear my lungs, and justify the calories of my daily glass of wine. Besides, I usually take my camera with me to record the changing seasons.

With this week's exceptionally warm, sunny weather, I decided to dust off my bicycle which has languished in the garage all winter. As much as I love walking in nearby Laurelhurst park, I wanted to broaden my horizons and explore more of the bike trails that Portland is known for.

Yesterday I rode downtown, crossed two different bridges, and explored both the east side and west side riverfront parkways - perfect for a sunny (though windy) Sunday.

It felt great! But I'd forgotten how hilly Portland is. It's downhill from my house to the Willamette river that bisects the city, but that means it's uphill all the way back home! Even taking advantage of all the gears on my bike, my heart rate rose to levels I haven't reached all winter. No wonder I've gained a little weight.

Resolved to get more aerobic exercise, I got back on my bike today and rode to the Crystal Springs rhododendron garden near Reed College. It's still a little early in the season, but it was good for photos, good for my heart rate, and good for my soul.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter in Portland

People often ask me how I'm adapting to winter in Portland - implying that I must find the short, gray, rainy days depressing. Au contraire. I am enjoying the mild temperatures and beautiful green foliage. It wasn't really raining, but the early morning fog leaves lots of condensation everywhere. I especially like the effect on spiderwebs

 and the bushes with berries that hang on throughout the winter

I was stunned to see trees that were starting to flower. Don't they know that it's only January? 

There were plenty of colorful characters in the park today. The tuba guy was practicing. His name is Patrick and he's been living in his car since October. (No room in the car to practice!) Right now he's preparing for concert that he'll be playing at the nearby old folks' home.

One guy was feeding the squirrels.
And several people were practicing tai chi or martial arts

The homeless guys were talking about the Superbowl. Go Seahawks!

As for me, I was just enjoying being outdoors.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Portland 2014

Happiness is:

1. Living near Philippe and Rachel (with a visit from my Mom)
2. My cozy apartment

3. Special ornaments on my Christmas tree
4. Great scenery
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Immortal Piano

I stumbled upon a shop called The Immortal Piano during my daily walk last week.

I was intrigued. Rows and rows of old fashioned upright pianos - some showing beautiful lines and workmanship; others opened, guts spilling out, tools arrayed awaiting action. It was a half hour before opening time, but the lights were on and the plastic sign in the window said "Open, please come in." So I did.

The owner of the shop came forward as I approached, camera in hand. Her name is Martha Taylor and she calls herself the Queen of Dead Pianos. She graciously responded to my questions, explaining how she'd rescued 500 vintage upright pianos bound for the dump. That was 22 years ago in Oakland, California. She knew nothing about pianos, but just couldn't let them die. And so began an accidental career rebuilding and reselling vintage uprights. She later moved to Portland and opened a shop on SE Belmont. She now employs two young women with small hands and a lot of patience for the restoration labor of love.

I felt a special affinity with the vintage pianos because one had a special place in our home in Boulder. Inherited from Charlie's Aunt Mary, it was appreciated but seldom played - until my niece Kylie started taking piano lessons several years ago and needed a piano. Now Aunt Mary's piano gets a lot of love in its new home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ugly sweaters in Portland

Another reason to like Portland: "Yarn-bombing" - dressing the city's statues in Christmas sweaters. Besides bringing smiles to downtown shoppers, the tradition also serves as a winter clothing drive to collect items for the homeless.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Laurelhurst Park

I am fortunate to live near a beautiful park that includes lovely walkways, a small lake, and a vast and varied collection of huge trees. I try to walk there almost every day and love watching the changing seasons.

The leaves have mostly fallen now, but the scenery is still interesting - especially for someone who grew up in arid Colorado. I can't get over the variety of moss and lichen: it's everywhere!
There are also a few characters whom I often see in the park. There's the guy who practices his tuba
And the homeless guy with his two cats
And the creature who lives in the bark of this tree!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Changing colors

What a difference a week makes! The last time I went to the Japanese Garden, on a gray rainy day, it was packed with photographers all clustered around the iconic Japanese maples which were showing off their exquisite autumn colors.

With bright blue skies forecast for yesterday, I thought I would return to catch the difference in light. This time, the park was practically deserted. Cold temperatures and high winds had drastically altered last week's colors.

Here's the maple with the mushroom from last week:

And the same tree with same mushroom this week:

The bridge last week:
And this week:
I saw only one other photographer. He was hunched over his tripod set low to the ground. He kept looking at his watch, camera remote in hand. Intrigued, I asked what he was doing and he explained that he was shooting a long exposure to capture the swirling leaves in the pond.
I looked more closely. I hadn't noticed how the leaves were moving.

If you just take an ordinary photo, the waterfall and pond look like this:
But after quick lesson from the more experienced photographer, I reset the ISO, the aperture, and the exposure and I captured the movement of the leaves!