Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Magic of Bees

The magic of bees. They are fascinating creatures that buzz and dip and climb into flowers, covering themselves with pollen that they then carry on to other flowers. These were taken in August in front of our house.

Below are two varieties of bees, one which I will call a bumblebee and the other, flying in on the right a honeybee. I'm sure there are more correct names...but I will stick to taking their photographs.

If you get really close, you can see the hair on the bee's body. Of course, it helps to have the right equipment such as a 28-70mm zoom with macro capability...and the resolution of a 10mp image produced by my new Nikon D300...combined with a lot of patience, and a lot of images. By sheer odds, some are bound to turn out good.

The following images were taken in early August, while I was bicycling along the Willamette River near downtown Portland.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on Memorial Day, 2009

As is my tradition, I visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington Park on this day. This year I came early to beat the crowds that also come each year, but the veterans who gather among the names of their fallen comrades were already there. Speakers and sound systems, along with canopies sheltering displays and coffee urns competed with the American flags spaced evenly along the circling path. Scattered among the flags are the black with white lettering, denoting those who were POW’s and Missing in Action. Men with remnants of uniforms or leathers from various bike clubs milled around and talked. There is certain camaraderie among them…also remnants of a shared experience so many years ago.

I walk past the groups. They look at me, and some nod in recognition that I am a part in their generation. Ahead of me walks a veteran. He moves slower than me so it doesn’t take long before I pass him by. We talk briefly...”I can’t walk as fast as I used to. It was the Agent Orange that they said only affected vegetation”. “Yeah…that is what they said, isn’t it?” I replied. We both move on in silence.

The Memorial is set up with various curved walls representing certain years of the Vietnam War, starting in 1959 and the last segment for the years ending in 1976. Each segment lists the names of those who died during that period. Another segment of wall lists those who are missing in action. I go here because these were my contemporaries…part of my generation.

I try to read each name. Some I recognize from past years, and others have the same name as people I know. I wonder if they were related. As I scan the names, I also wonder what they were like…were they athletes or scholars in high school…who did they leave behind? Young lives suddenly cut short. As I ponder each name there is a palpable presence…perhaps they are here as well, waiting for loved ones to visit.

On the wall with the names of those who died in 1968-1969…perhaps the wall with the highest number of names…I see one of those who I know. It is the cousin of my best friend in high school. Suddenly I am transported to 1968 when the war that was an abstract item in the nightly news became very, very real to this 16-year-old at the time. Suddenly the draft became a real worry to me and I began to wonder what I would do when my turn came.

I allowed my tears to flow, as they still do when I write this, thinking of the lives interrupted, family dynamics permanently changed…and broken hearts left behind. I continue on and complete my reading of names. I utter a heartfelt thank you into the air…perhaps that palpable presence will hear me and accept my meager gratitude.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Last week someone sent me a link to a youtube video that featured the song by the Eagles, called "New York Minute". It's a video made by some young people and was interspersed with many images, including a clock and a changing table. Here is the link:

I thought about the changes we go through…some minor, and others causing upheaval for us and for many around us…and some forced upon us by others or by circumstances beyond our control. Some changes start out as seemingly minor, yet as we ponder we realize that even a “minor” thing has some far-reaching consequences and can remind us of our mortality.

Last week I had a chat with my mother. I talk to her several times a week, sometimes a couple of times a day. It was a small comment, but it harbored those far-reaching consequences I just mentioned. I was to pick her up for a family event, and she asked if we could stop at the store on the way. Of course, I said. She went on to say driving is making her nervous…more so than before. I paid little attention at the time, but the significance came later, with the realization that her driving days may soon be over.

Many of us take for granted our ability to get into a car and drive anywhere we want, anytime and with anyone. Yet for my mother it represents mobility and freedom, and one more thing to which she can thumb her nose at so-called old age. After all, she is a young 86-year-old who still prides herself that she can mow her back lawn…albeit takes a couple of days.

Yet changes come upon us suddenly and sometimes very softly. So softly that we miss those harbingers of more significant changes…and the passages of life we don’t want to think about.

How do we respond to those changes? How do you? Is your tendency one of which to avoid thinking of it, hoping that perhaps we won’t need to face the inevitable? Or do you face it head-on? Do you then blindly accept and adapt, or scream an emphatic NO!

It was the softness of my mother’s comment that gave me pause. I don’t know if she has accepted it yet…or if she needs to right away. This will be the fodder of more discussions later, but the lesson I learned…or perhaps am trying to learn…is that changes occur, regardless of what we want or if we are ready.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cars...images from the Portland Roadster Show

So here I am, the quintessential car junky...the perennial gearhead...and it is that time of year once again when "they" come to Portland. What am I to do? Why, there is no question, is there? It is the annual Portland Roadster Show and I succumb to the siren call. It comes every year about this time as a harbinger of Springtime, when all of us who have been hibernating for the winter (or at least our cars have been) can finally look forward to warmer weather, when we can pull our valiant mechanical steeds out of their stables and stretch their legs. In the meantime we drool...we ogle...and marvel at the chrome and the horsepower, and wonder how some of these people can afford all of this?? Nevertheless it is fun.

A fifty-something Pontiac. Have you ever noticed how cars so often resemble women? Nuff said.

A little duece coupe with a lot of chrome...and probably a lot more horsepower than my vette.

A 1959 Chevy Impala...always one of my favorites. Notice the "Pacific Wonderland" license plate.

I really liked the paint job on this convertible.

Yet another '32 Duece those hotrods!

A "head on" shot. Another attendee watched me crouch down to take this photograph, then knelt down to see the view himself and was so amazed he told everyone else standing around how cool it was.

The quintessential "woody"

I don't remember what these were, but the shot was just too cool to pass up. They looked like they were ready to launch off the starting line.

Another cool chrome and deep red shot.

Can you guess what car this was? (If you guessed Plymouth Roadrunner, you were right! I won't ask you what clued you in.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

On Saturday, January 31st I did the senior citizen shuttle, when I took my mother and my in-laws to Spirit Mountain so they could satisfy their gambling itch. Me...I don't have that itch, but I saw it as an opportunity for them to support the local tribe in their efforts at getting back at the white man. Since I don't gamble, I dropped them off and I went to satisfy my own itch, or a pair of and airplanes. These are taken at the Evergreen Aviation Museum near McMinnville, Oregon, with a 10-24mm wide angle lens.

Biplane 1

Biplane 2, with fabric removed from the skeleton/frame

Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose"

P51 and B17 in the background

Biplane 3

Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane, from the rear

Titan II ICBM Missile/Itermediate Space Launch Vehicle, perched on a launch pad

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saying goodbye…one year later

Today is the anniversary of the loss of a dear friend. Dennis and I got together at our favorite restaurant, Caro Amico’s in SW Portland. It’s a place we’ve come to many times. We know Butch, who runs the place and always makes a point of stopping by our booth or table to say hi. Though Leslie didn’t drink much, and neither does Beth, we nevertheless hoisted one in her honor…maybe two…perhaps it was three.

One year ago I remember listening to a message on my cell phone, some time after my friend Dennis left the message…”Leslie had an accident at home, a bad fall. She’s injured her head and suffered some brain damage…it doesn’t look good.”


Of course I called him back as soon as I listened to the message. “Do you want me to come to the hospital?” I asked. “No. I’ll be fine” he said. I hung up and looked at Beth, shocked. She looked at me after I recounted the conversation to her. It seems Leslie had slipped or fallen after putting the car into the garage, and somehow hit her head on the concrete floor or stoop. “I think you should go the hospital” she said to me. Of course I should…Dennis is perhaps my best friend.

The drive to the hospital was a long one. It was a Monday evening in January. We just had dinner together on Saturday night…was that only two days ago? I found Dennis in the emergency room. He was surprisingly calm, yet I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s always had a deadpan sense of humor…even droll. He is also someone you want around in an emergency, because of his levelheadedness. Funny, but now this is his emergency.

We sat and talked. Two doctors came towards us, and we stood. It was the doctors who were treating Leslie. Nothing…absolutely nothing prepares you to witness a doctor telling someone there is nothing they can do, and it is just a matter of time.

“Do you want us to resuscitate should her heart stop? It will probably not change anything.”
The words echoed in my mind. How could this be? We were just together two days ago. Leslie had even left a message on Beth’s phone.

After several hours at the hospital, I went to get Dennis’ car and helped him to get in. He drove home and I walked to my car. The next morning I received a call from Dennis. Leslie had passed away early in the morning.

We hoisted a drink in Leslie’s memory. We miss her. We talked about the good times, and then it was time to go home. As we walked out of the lounge, we stopped to say hello to Butch. Of course he remembered Leslie, and he asked how Dennis was doing. He also said something profound…”be thankful for the years you had.”

Butch is right, of course. It is so easy to become morose and sad, and some of it is natural and human, but in the end we must be thankful…thankful for the time we could share together. We had wonderful times, and nothing can take those memories away.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Touch of Summer in the Midst of Winter

One would not expect to have summer-like weather in January, but Oregon seems blessed to experience a few unusually warm days during the winter, and such was the case last weekend. It was somewhat spontaneous but we decided to throw caution to the wind (or was it we were fed up with the 40-mph winds we've had all week?) and take a Sunday drive to the coast. Lincoln City had spectacular waves and a slight wind (as you can see from the spray blown off the tops of the breakers), but Newport was downright balmy with temperatures in the high-60's. Imagine...people in shorts and January???

It was also a great opportunity to try out my new 10-24mm wide-angle zoom lens, and here are some of the fruits of that day:

Newport, OR commercial boat harbor, with Yaquina Bay Bridge (Hwy 101) in the background

Fishing boats (Newport, OR)

Fishing boat 2 (Newport, OR)

Gems in the water (Lincoln City, OR)

(Some shots are purely accidental and I don't discover the true effect until later, when I view it on the computer. I missed the stars for the reflected sun when I took the picture)

Waves (Lincoln City, OR)

(no, this one was NOT taken with a wide angle, but with a 70-210mm zoom)

Stream flowing towards the ocean (Lincoln City, OR)