Friday, December 27, 2013


On a recent overcast white-sky day I trod through a cold December garden curious to see if there were any signs of plant life left.  I was looking for some possible photo shots. There was a light fog in the air as well as hints of a light rainy mist. 

It was a small garden, organically grown, and contained soil that was rich and amenable. The first plant I saw was some mysterious greens -- possibly some type of kale? It was definitely a cold crop as it still was growing with its colorful green and purple leaves. I pinched some leaves off to eat and found them tasty.

Its leaves were full of dew which I attempted to capture above. I realized there was still plant life in the garden even though there had been several frosts this December.

Although part of the garden had been recently dug up I managed to find some plants that offered up a variety of textures and colors. This broccoli stem with its decaying sprouts still had a few sprouts that were trying their best to survive.

Found many tomatillios beautifully decaying. All that was left was their lacy husks reflecting its former shape holding its seeds with the promise of next season's life.

Blackened stalks of small sunflowers appeared forlorn. I caught this dewdrop at the end of a dried leaf -- could it be a sunflower teardrop -- saying goodbye to its life in the garden?

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Standing is James, my father. 
His baby brother sits in the highchair. 

. . . and all through the house. 

With James in his knickers and I in my chair
we stood and we sat with greatest of care.
When out on the lawn we heard some prancing
It so moved James that he quickly started dancing.

I'm attempting to move myself into the Christmas mood today by sorting through some of my old Christmas photos while making up the above silly little ditty for this post. The 1916 photo above is of my father, James, when he was about four. The family had just moved to Detroit so his father (my grandfather) could begin working at Henry Ford's manufacturing plant.

This photo was taken about 100 years ago. As I look at it I smile at the small pine tree lacking the traditional electric lights -- a sheet acting as a tree skirt wrapping its base -- the tree's tinsel chain winding past a few large glittery ornaments, and the calendar hanging on the wall along with my great-grandfather's picture. A lone children's book sits under the tree. I wonder if the book was a gift my father received for Christmas? 

I am especially thinking of my father today. He gave me the greatest of gifts  --  kindness and love.

Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


While living in New Mexico, for a short stint, I spent my Saturday mornings perusing house sales for unique small items. 

One Saturday I ran across an estate sale where the adult children were selling the items their mother had left them. It was a vast collection of fabrics, paintings and sculptures. Really some good stuff.

I never seemed to have hardly a cent to spend on anything frivolous so I was careful to spend wisely at these sales. As I entered this particular house I noticed some unusual fabrics which intrigued me so I set about going through the stacks that were piled on a large table. About half way through I came upon a piece of fabric about 18" X 16". I instantly knew it was a unique piece. I could hardly contain my excitement. I asked the price to one of the children running the sale -- she said how about five dollars?  Of course I couldn't get the five dollars out of my money pouch fast enough. I asked her if she knew where her mother had purchased it and she said that she had no idea.

Well I could hardly wait to get home to get a closer look at what I had bought. Yep, it was embroidered on old linen and the stitching was early -- say about the late 1700s to early 1800s. The figures embroidered on the piece were indicative of Pennsylvania Dutch stitching.

The eight pointed star was a common symbol in Pennsylvania Dutch work as well as the "rigid" flowering trees. This might have been a pattern cloth for young women to learn correct ways to stitch? Not sure.

Anyway, today I call it my Christmas cloth because of the large star in the middle. Also because my maternal ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch. I never knew them but I can pretend that one of them stitched this lovely piece of cloth. At least at Christmas --  then its back to reality.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Once many small towns had cinemas like the one in this photo. This particular one is located in Tigard, Oregon. It is on a very busy street that leads to a major highway just a few blocks down the road. I would not consider saying that the town has a small town ambiance anymore. Growth in Tigard has surrounded this little art deco place. But yet, the original signage seems to be in place -- it looks like the JOY cinema might still be in use in a rather irregular way. The front facade has a tiled design that appears original. I did not cross the street to get closer. I thought my life would be endangered by the traffic if I did. 

Hang in there "JOY."

Monday, December 9, 2013


At one time doors were not standardized like today's modern ones. Does that tell us something? Perhaps. Maybe it tells us that we have lost some of our uniqueness? These old doors belonged to commercial or public places -- some now vacant --  they hang like artistic ornaments. 

Old screen door to college's outdoor theater.

Old door of early church. KY

Unknown commercial use, Maysville, KY

Unknown commercial use, Mt Vernon, KY

Old bank door, unknown use now, Waco, KY

Old train station door, still in use, Maysville, KY

Old door, Grocery Store, Waco, KY

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Above is a vintage photo that was featured on a postcard put out by the Kentucky Historical Society a few years back.   It features a bunch  of pottery just outside the door of  Bybee Pottery located in Bybee, Kentucky. I assumed it was a photo of their production on that day long ago? 

This postcard made me curious about Bybee Pottery so I decided to visit the place several months ago when I still lived in Kentucky. When I got there the pottery place was closed up tight and not a sign of life surrounded the exteriorPerhaps I had come on the wrong day?

Above are the buildings I found that day when I visited. All the attached buildings appeared in great shape but they gave off a ghostly feeling of desertion.

The large sign above the door announced "Bybee Pottery founded 1809!" 

I did a little research and found that Bybee Pottery had suspended operation in 2011. I was just two years late in my visit to the place.

Additional research turned up the following information on Wikipedia:

"Bybee Pottery, is a 200-year-old pottery company based in Bybee, a community in Madison County, Kentucky, USA. It was founded in 1809 by Webster Cornelison and members of the same Cornelison family."

Bybee pottery was well known nationwide for their pottery. Once they made just utilitarian pieces but eventually they made decorative pottery items too. Link to an article about the family that has operated this business since its founding.  

Below is an example of just one of the many types of Bybee ware that was made by the company. 

This wonderful company of Americana items is another example of our declining base of local companies in the U.S.

Sorry about that folks  

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Crouch farm house with relative's cars 
during Thanksgiving day.
courtesy: Library of Congress

It's amazing to think about what our parents and grandparents did to prepare for a Thanksgiving holiday. Jack Delano, a photographer from the depression era, recorded this set of photos in 1940 at the Crouch family farm in Connecticut. 

Thanksgiving hasn't hardly changed for many folks across our country. Today's technology has added its face but the tradition to gather with friends and family, eat lots of turkey, stuffing, pie, and more while enjoying each other's company is still pretty much the same. 

Crouch family enjoying their Thanksgiving feast.
courtesy: Library of Congress

Young one checking to see if the pudding is done.
courtesy: Library of Congress

Granddaughter placing the homemade pies.
courtesy: Library of Congress

Grandma basting the turkey.
courtesy: Library of Congress

Grandpa slicing the turkey.
courtesy: Library of Congress

Let's eat!


more about depression photographers

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Wandering roots

I never saw a discontented tree,
They grip the ground as though they liked it, and
though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.
They go wandering forth is all directions with every wind,
going and coming like ourselves . . . .

~~ John Muir

Aerial tree roots
Mount St Helen's National Park, Washington State

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I took this dusky photo in the late afternoon with the city 
streetlights of Portland just beginning to come on. I was standing off a main road in Vancouver.

I am lucky. About three miles from where I live in Vancouver, Washington is this beautiful view of Mount Hood which is located in Oregon. I looked up the mileage between where I live and Mount Hood and it was sixty road miles. And, I would approximate it is about 40 miles  -- as the crow flies.

Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon -- it being twenty miles from Portland, Oregon which is just across the large Columbia River from Vancouver. According to Wikipedia, Mount Hood is considered to possibly have an eruption in the next 30 years -- it is informally considered dormant for now.

Early Native American cultures had various spirit tales about the mountain. Wy'east is the name given to Mount Hood by the Multnomah tribe.

Right now, as one can see in the above photo, the mountain is deep in snow while here in Vancouver, where I live, it has been rainy with moderate temperatures. 

Out west on a trip? I recommend motoring or hiking up to Timberline lodge near its peak -- it is full of beautiful rustic designs and furnishings handmade by Great Depression employed artisans. 

Visit this blog, Pacific Northwest Seasons, to enjoy interior shots of the beautiful Timberline's craftsmanship.

Mount Hood is a National Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Slave House

PBS has been featuring a video series titled, The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross. I started watching it about a week ago and found it well researched and of great interest. It reminded me of the pieces of black culture that I bumped into when I lived in Kentucky, a former slave state up until the Civil War. 

I went through my photos and notes and came up with several black cultural subjects. This slave house was of particular interest I thought. Not much is known about it except that it has always been known as a slave house. What particular function it had is lost in history. 

Built to last forever - a chiseled limestone
cooking fireplace about five feet tall. 

The brick house legacy is that it is one of three slave houses that were clustered near the big house of the slave owners during the early 19th century. This is the only remaining one of the original three. It consists of one fairly large room with a huge cooking fireplace. The place is located in Madison County, Kentucky.

Interior wall layers worn away over time

A while after I took these photos the historical society took over the care of the place. They began rehabbing it in a character that was not congruent with its architectural history -- it was to be part of a tourist place and with that the feeling of its original structure was dressed in finery known only during this century.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Flying Geese Quilt Pattern
(couldn't get a photo of the Canadian geese
 so I substituted this quilt pattern)

Last night about 5 PM I was walking my dog Sal when I heard a familiar noise off in the distance. No, it wasn't the usual planes or the highway traffic I hear at night here in Vancouver. It was a favorite sound that I had not heard in several years. 

It was the distant honking-chatter of Canadian geese. Oh please, I thought, fly over where I am standing. I kept my eyes peeled toward the darkening sky when up over the trees I could see some thin lines headed my way. 

And suddenly -- there they were. Hundreds of noisy migratory geese flying overhead -- three huge V-formations of them! Ever since I was a young girl I have stood in awe of their flights. 

This one was magnificent!!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth
"you owe me"
What happens
With a love like that
It lights the 

~ ~Hafiz

Friday, November 1, 2013


Sallie Tomato AKA Sal

Before I start letting you know about our trip that we just took I want to get something straight. My name is Sal or Sallie Tomato, which ever you prefer but I am a male -- all 90 pounds of me. And if you want to tease me about my name I'll meet you outside in about five minutes. I wanted to be named Capone but nobody listened to me. 

But now that we have that settled I want to tell you about my trip that I just took with my lady friend barbara. 

The trip's plan was to pack up our most important belongings and move hundreds of miles across the country in barbara's little Toyota truck. Well the most important thing to me was my roaming territory where I could find all kinds of wild critters and tomatoes (yum fresh out of barbara's garden) and lots of land to just be silly and run my head off. But I had to leave all this behind as barbara said you can't take land in a truck. 

So off we went loaded down and me only having a passenger seat to settle my big ole body into. I really didn't mind it as I got to talk to barbara the whole trip. You know things like -- I have to make a visit to the rest area and quick. But it all worked out.

You see I have a big problem -- I cannot jump into a vehicle. I used to have a ramp to get into the truck but we had to leave that behind in Kentucky. barbara couldn't lift me in so we knew this was going to be an interesting trip. But she came up with a solution.

Solution: Ask folks along the way to lift me up into the passenger seat. I would cooperate by jumping out by myself at each rest stop I just couldn't jump back up (it's a mental hangup with me). Yikes I thought -- what if these folks are not nice people -- they may be bank robbers or something like that -- maybe even dog kidnappers!

But there was no other choice -- barbara had to be bold and ask. She said she would pick only strong looking folks that would have the stamina to lift and not drop me. She was a bit nervous about doing this as she was afraid that people would refuse to lift me. 

Anyway we crossed about ten states stopping at rest stops on average about four times a day for a week. We stopped, asked for a lift and continued on our way.

barbara got into the swing of asking. She told me that the folks she asked were more than willing to lift me. They talked a little about their dog/s and smiled a lot. She told me that I was boring to talk to compared to these friendly folks. But then I would give her a big lick in the face and she would tell me she was just kidding.

After we finally made our 2,500 miles to Washington state I heard barbara telling her friends that she could not believe the wonderful folks that she met along our road-trip. Most of them were long-haul truck drivers that were so very helpful. They came in all sizes, shapes, colors and were from all parts of the country. They didn't show one sign of being put-out about lifting me in the truck. She said it left her with a great feeling about the folks in this country. 

If anyone is reading this blog, that just happens to be one of those kind folks that helped us, I thank you and barbara thanks you too!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013


pumpkins sitting on a fence in Madison County, Kentucky

My favorite holiday -- was also my father's birthday. 

Thirty-five years ago -- my father with my two sons 
Erik on the left and Kirk on the right. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Resource: Library of Congress

Once upon a time our country's back roads held thriving farm stands that brought in some extra cash for families and fresh garden and orchard food for the locals.  What was in season could usually be bought for less than commercial stores could sell it for. Do you remember these farm stands? 

Farm stands were usually closed during off-growing seasons. Soon as the produce began to be able to feed more than the family -- it landed in the farm stand located out their door and down by the road where the it was visible to passing traffic. Stands came in all sizes and shapes.  

Above is a farm stand photo taken by a Mr. Pointer during the mid 20th century. Farm stands like the one above were usually run by the farm family and maybe a friend or relative  The photo shows how serious some were about selling -- they went all out in presentation.

Today, it is rare to find a farm stand along a back road. Farms are busy mono-cropping for corporations. But if one is diligent one can still possibly find remnants left over from the past.

Above is a stand that I found recently while riding the back roads of Oregon. The crop being sold was hazelnuts both cracked and un-cracked. It was a family endeavor and the nuts came from the acres of nut trees on their property. 

The stand was an old one -- refurbished forty years ago when they bought it from a family that sold flowers from it down the road.

Here is a look at the orchard of Spring Brook Hazel Nut Farm where I bought some already cracked nuts from the above farm stand. With nuts in hand I continued down the road smiling while I chewed down a few.  They were delicious.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Chitwood Covered bridge 

Covered bridges have always been fascinating to me. Almost fifty years ago I lived in West Virginia where my children and then husband would take rides in the country looking for covered bridges. We found so many back then  -- wonder how many still remain?

Last weekend I discovered the above beautiful Chitwood covered bridge in Lincoln county,Oregon. Built over the Yaquina river it portrays an important part of the area's history.  It is still being used for vehicle traffic.

 The original Chitwood bridge was built in 1893 and was rebuilt with historic accuracy in 1926. Its name derives from that of an early settler that ran a general store near the bridge.

Vehicle weight restriction sign

I later found out that there are fifty-six remaining covered bridges in Oregon, fifty of them still used by vehicles. 

Interior of the bridge

Over time I hope to discover the locations of other covered bridges in Oregon.

Note: to view old photos of the bridge and to read about its past history click here

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I believe this mailbox is a replicate of some type of farm outbuilding. Shot this photo last weekend while visiting 
Oregon. It was located along a beautiful country road. 
Definitely handmade and very folksy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Not far from where I am living is a large community garden. Patterns of rectangles set the garden in proper order. Dirt paths have become a menagerie of weeds yet still define the borders around the individual small plots  Together all the plots appear to me like a college trial garden -- a little bit of this and a little bit of that -- a botanical community.

The Mammoth sunflowers were still standing tall when I recently walked through the aging plant plantation that was devoid of humans. The sun shown down on the garden giving the sunflowers some of their last breaths of "growing" light. Mammoth's stand very tall with one gigantic seed-filled head  -- a bird feeding paradise. If the heads bend to the ground small mammals enjoy the bounty. 

What I enjoy about sunflowers is their ultimate beauty as they age through the growing season. Fall brings their dark seed heads -- advertising to birds, "here is my sustainable gift to you. -- come and enjoy,  I will give to you like the sun, rain, and wind has given to me through spring and summer." 

They remind me that one can still give the gift of nurturing in the fall season of their life. 

Monday, October 14, 2013


As I stumbled out of bed this morning -- out to the kitchen to make my coffee -- I glanced out my windows overlooking a treed space. There to greet me was a large hanging orb spider web -- filtering early morning light through its woven strands. I grabbed my camera and stood out on my balcony taking its photo as it was high up in a coniferous tree. 

I then thanked the spider for giving me such beauty to start my day.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Bark of unidentified tree

Well, I have now been living in Vancouver, Washington for just about three weeks. I have been busy getting to know my "new to me" immediate area and am still getting lost in the various neighborhoods. This is a very populated area, unlike my previous residence in Kentucky where everything was either rural or small town and definitely fewer folks. The difference between the two sections of the country is like night and day.

This move is taking some "getting used to." I am labeling this period as "Transition."

This morning I got online, pulled up lots of material on Washington and Oregon. Portland, Oregon rides on the border of Vancouver, Washington. Western Oregon and western Washington have rainforest environments (which means lots of rain for my area). Both states reside in the Pacific Northwest. This is my geography lesson for today.

I am familiar with Oregon as I lived there off and on for several years I plan to write about and photograph it as well as Washington. 

The tree bark above is a close-up photo from the tall tree shown at the bottom of this post. I took the photos when my son and I visited Mount St. Helen's last weekend. Being outstandingly handsome how could I not resist taking its picture.

Does anyone know the species of this tree? I looked it up in some inadequate ID books and thought perhaps it might be Silver Fir? It fits the description -- a dome top  made up of horizontal branches -- also a smooth whitish bark -- growing very tall with only the upper third supporting foliage. 

Lots to find out about the Pacific Northwest -- rainforest ecology, farming, lumbering, traditions, folkways, architecture, native culture, and much more. Should be fun!

~ ~ barbara

 Is this a Silver Fir?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


File:MSH82 st helens spirit lake reflection 05-19-82.jpg
Mount Saint Helen and Spirit Lake
coutesy: Wikipedia

OK, the government has shut down our National Parks. But, for some reason my son and I had forgot this and took off yesterday for Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. You know -- the one that erupted in 2000 that took out 57 lives and eradicated every living thing for 230 square miles surrounding its dome.

We had not checked the park online -- where we would have found this alert:

Funding Lapse ... all federally owned recreation sites are closed . . . we sincerely regret this inconvenience.

When we arrived at the park, specifically Ape Cave trail, we found many cars parked way off to the side of the main park road. Folks were smiling and talking as they walked to and from Ape Cave trail. As we approached this trail-head we found a large wooden sign saying, "Closed -- Do not enter." In spite of this sign folks were walking up the trail. Since there were no park officials to guard the park it was now really the people's park. Everyone was having a good time and being very civil. It left a very good feeling with me. Perhaps a little less watchfulness of big brother is a freeing experience for folks.