Wednesday, March 4, 2015


It's almost Spring! 
March 20 is official date in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Screen doors provide fresh air circulation 
for stuffy closed winter homes and buildings. At least that is how is used to be before air-conditioning. Now screen doors are a bit outmoded in some areas.

Above is a hand-made folksy screen door on a coffeehouse that has been in business  for 40 years in Mapleton, Oregon

Monday, March 2, 2015


Dorthea Lange
Library of Congress

Dorothea Lange began her career as a documentary photographer by signing on with the federal Resettlement Administration that eventually became the Farm Administration/Office of War Information. Her paid position, as it was for many other artists, was created by President Franklin Roosevelt to get people back to work during the Great depression that began in 1929 and lasted until 1941 when WWII began.

Her main assignment was to record the California migrants that were poring into the state looking for work. Depression unemployment figures reached a high of 25 percent in the U.S. In 1929, when the depression began,  60 percent of the country's wealth was held by the top 1 percent of the population. Sound familiar?

Florence Thompson with two of her seven children in a California migrant camp
Dorothea Lange -- Library of Congress
Dorothea was soon photographing folks that were the homeless and unemployed. The above 1936 photograph  known as "Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and some of her children in a California migrant camp.

In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

"I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields and birds that the children killed.

She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of a quality about it."

( From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

Mississippi Delta Children -- 1936
Dorthea Lange -- Library of Congress
Dorthea continued working as a photographer through the Depression taking photos mainly in the southern and the western parts of the country. Her focus continued to be on the folks that suffered economically or for other injustices. 

Dorthea Lange --Library of Congress
Ms Lange's ability to capture the toughness of these folks that were trying to survive is amazing. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960 for her excellency in photography.

Library of Congress
Dorthea Lange
In the photo above Dorthea captures determination and dignity in the face of an ex-tenant farmer. The emotions that she knew to focus on in her photos is touching.

Japanese children at a California public school participating in a pledge to the flag -- 1941
Dorothea Lange -- Library of Congress
In 1942 some of the Japanese children in the above photograph would in all likelihood be put into Japanese Internment camps with their families. Contradictory to this possibility was their sincerity of pledging to the American flag while their faces glowed in this Lange photo of 1941

Dorothea was not just a photographer recording people's  plights during the Depression -- she was gathering up the emotions of the folks that were the victims of social and economic injustices. The folks spoke back to her through her photographs releasing bold emotions in the face of adversity.

Dorothea Lange:  May 26, 1895 -- October 11, 1965 

this is a re-post from my 4/22/11 blog
 photos from Library of Congress archives


Monday, February 23, 2015


 Stilt houses --  probably Far East
photo credit: FACADE.

I've seen photos of stilt houses since I was in elementary school. They had a certain emotional pull for me -- how could anyone want to live on stilts? Well that of course was my young Midwestern mind at work -- unaware of the housing needs of people around the world.  

 House built of stilts
Mapleton, Oregon

However, now in my older years I have recently had the experience of seeing real stilt houses here in Oregon -- just about ten miles away along the Siuslaw River. The river does occasionally flood along certain parts of the river. So folks have adopted this ancient concept of building on stilts to stay dry in case of a flood.

House built on stilts
Mapleton, Oregon

Maybe some day along our two coasts we will begin to notice many houses on stilts as the oceans rise -- as predicted with global warming.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


My new home

Finally I have everything moved into my new place. Moving is certainly not for the weak at heart. 

As a result of an exhausting move I have a new mantra -- for every one thing that is brought into the house beginning now -- one thing will be subtracted from the house. This will keep my living sparse and simple. I have the basics and that is all I need.

As one can see in the photo above my place is a small, clean, vernacular place -- built in 1941. It sits on a ridge along the mountainous Oregon Coast Range near the Siuslaw  (pronounced sigh-YOU-slaw) River which is truly a wild river -- no dams in its forks to slow it down. Its run begins WNW of where I live and travels 110 miles ending in the Pacific Ocean. 

About fifteen to eighteen homes sit here along with me on this ridge. A private one lane road fronts the homes with a posted speed of fifteen miles. 

No one lives across the one lane road. It is a large open flat area to enjoy however with woods surrounding it. Also across the one lane is a large fenced area for a community garden and another fenced area for chickens if one is so inclined to have chickens.

 Fenced chickens along one lane road.

My backyard is small and flat, about 40 ft. X 25 ft. Where my yard ends at the back -- the tree filled mountain begins its climb gradually. 

A very small post office is just down the main road with limited open hours of nine a.m. to one p.m. Since the homes on my ridge are considered on a private road I had to purchase a post office box for my mail.

Our private one lane road

Sounds are occasionally some wind, very seldom a few cars or a truck, a dog's bark infrequently, a night fright train whistle ever so often all the while the river constantly softly roars and races its wild body of water toward the Pacific. 

Overall my place is peaceful, beautiful, and private. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015



Finally after more than a year of searching I have found the ideal place for me to live. Yesterday, I contracted to rent a cozy cottage that is twenty-two miles from the Oregon coast. It also has the added attraction of the Siuslaw river flowing past the property through this mountainous valley before entering the ocean at Florence, Oregon. I was discriminating and patient enough to find just the right area which was a reminder to me that all good things take time. Although I have to admit that at times it was very exasperating. 

It is out in the boonies yet there are folks nearby. I have a lot of work ahead of me with the moving and all. I will not be blogging for a few weeks. Will tell you more about the area and cottage when I return. 

Happy trails to everyone. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015



Grange halls have existed in rural areas of our nation since the mid-1800s. Their growth was attributed to community activities associated with farmland living -- serving as a meeting house of sorts for country folks. It was a time of real family farms not corporate farms, 

They played a large role in our historic agricultural community. However the grange buildings have been slowly disappearing as land is being bought up for housing developments, malls, and commercial structures. 

I always look for the old grange buildings that usually sit forlornly on our former rural lands. As family farms have been exiting these areas, now one might find a grange sitting next to many commercial buildings or new subdivisions -- deteriorating ever so slowly.  So many have disappeared from our landscapes. At one time the above Fernwood Grange was among six granges in the Newberg area of Oregon. Today Fernwood Grange is the last remaining of the original six -- the result of city encroachment. 

Grange buildings are dying off as our culture changes.

For more info on granges across the nation click here 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Hey this is a neat place.

Just look at all the people in here.

Oh yes, and that lady over there is taking some photos of me. I heard her ask my dad if she could. I better put my best face on.

At last, a refreshing drink that my dad bought just for me.


Friday, January 9, 2015


Trees are ever present as one rides around Oregon. To me it is what makes part of Oregon absolutely beautiful. It's winter here right now and because of the huge majority of conifers there is always the presence of greenery in the landscape. 

I like to ride around the neighborhoods that are on the fringes of Portland. Once they were their own little villages until incorporated by the large city of Portland. One neighborhood is Multnomah Village.

Multnomah Village is a charming village with an active small downtown and a long established neighborhood that surround the old commercial area filled with several small businesses such as  a book store, a bike repair and a couple coffee houses.

To give one an example of the charm of the neighborhood snuggled within the village perimeter I took this street view of conifer trees that  were used as street trees. Street trees being those that line the streets.  

Being raised as a Midwesterner I was used to large deciduous trees lining neighbor streets. Trees such as oak, elms, and maples that provided lush leaves in the summer and fall yet no lush leaves could be found in the winter.  

Here in the Pacific Northwest one finds very tall trees that provide a greenscape all year round. Take a look at the photo above that I shot to understand what I am talking about. 

I am not saying that the Pacific Northwest is the best as I believe there is good in all types of environmental regions. Like humans of different ethnic makeups -- trees are much the same -- providing different yet beautiful landscapes in their own way.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015


In Balance

A few quotes for 2015. Saw the above rock balanced on top of larger rocks at a local park here in Portland. It gave me food for thought about seeking balance in my life for 2015. Looked up some quotes that relate to balance. I am sharing them below -- hope some of them resonant with you -----

Don't confuse symmetry with balance. 
~ ~ Tom Robbins

My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.
~ ~ Ellen DeGeneres

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.
~ ~ Patti Smith

I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out.
~ ~ Kevin Thoman

Evermore in the world is this marvelous balance of beauty and disgust, magnificence and rats.
~ ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are in doubt about what's balanced, look at the natural world
~ ~ F.T. McKinstry

Rock Balancing (Wikipedia)