Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moss-edged River Walk, Astoria

There was a fine growth of moss along the River Walk from near Safeway to the Maritime Museum today as Lee and I walked late in the afternoon. We'd started out the other direction, went to Pier 11, looked at some galleries on 10th and Commercial, then headed along the river to Safeway. Coming back, the moss caught the light. The traveller ahead of us liked it too, because she stopped several times to take photos, just as I did - almost at the same moment, same position to catch the sun's reflection. I suppose we'd had just enough water and just enough light to cause the moss to paint the walkway. And the sun was just so in the fading afternoon.

I remember how bright the water was. The river gleamed white, not blue. I was thinking that if I painted the river from what my mind knew about rivers, I'd get it wrong. At this moment, it was reflecting bright white from the overcast sky.

Tapir art and craft in my Picasa albums

I've spent a lot of time this weekend digging out photo files from folders, rearranging them and putting them in web albums. It's only the beginning, and it's fun - finally, after all this time I'm making some progress! Here's a picture of Elvis, the cat I had in Colorado, with two balsa wood tapirs from Peru. It was taken in 2001. You can see these tapirs and more in my lowland tapir art web albums. Check out the other tapir art albums, too. That's what I worked on today. Also, I have to share this. Sara Tegan sent a link to a tapir web cam in England. What fun :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

River, rain, eagle, and ships

It was a dark and drippy day. These photos were actually taken between about 9:30 and 10:00 in the morning, so you can see how heavily gray it was. Lee had walked to Safeway, and was coming back when he saw the waterlogged eagle on its perch on some pilings. He called me and I came over with the camera. Earlier, on his way to Safeway along the River Walk, he'd seen a flock of pelicans, which is odd along the river, and maybe odd for this time of year as well. I like this picture because it has the green buoy in it.

The eagle was attentive to various sounds and sights on the river - mainly the sights. He's got his eye on this fishing boat. You can see how the feathers on the back of his head are pretty messed up. He's simply quite wet and the water has made rivulets in his feathers.

There was a ship on the river along with the fishing boat.

And another ship. We weren't there all that long. It was a busy time. Meanwhile, I kept trying to get a decent close-up, which didn't happen. I'm pretty happy with the camera I've been using, but it's not up to close-ups of far-away eagles. This piling was a ways out in the river. Once I switched to the digital zoom, the image broke up. These are taken at the extent of the optical zoom.

I'm not sure what he's seeing now, but he certainly is vigilant. He was tolerant of Lee and me as I took quite a lot of photos, and tolerant of a group of men who sat on a nearby bench and watched. He stayed calm when a couple of visitors from out of town arrived with teenage boys and Lee talked with them. The kids wanted to throw something at the eagle to see him fly, but were discouraged from bothering him. They were nice, they were just acting like kids, and they did not end up throwing anything. Normally, we see eagles in the trees higher up on the hill, not here on the pilings, so it was a nice sight for us, and a pretty cool juxtaposition with the boats.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving night fire in Astoria, Oregon

We were asleep not that many blocks from the fire that occurred at 10th and Commercial Streets in Astoria last night, but I didn't hear about it until I woke up well after dawn. The engines had to have come right past our place. Here's what's left as of about 8:30 this morning. I have more photos in my web album, and a photographer caught the blaze on film during the night. You can see it and read the story to date on The Daily Astorian's web site. (Scroll to the bottom and click on the forward button as if it were a video to see all of the photos.) I heard that the blaze started in the florist shop and that a man living in the building had been killed in the fire. Nobody has released news of the cause. The Bank of America is completely gutted along with a new coffee shop (Caby's), and Astoria Florist, all on Commercial Street. Tokyo Teriyaki, on 10th, was also gutted by the fire.

November 29 update on the fire from The Daily Astorian.

[Your visit to my blog helps us support the conservation of tapirs and their habitats.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Portland with Laurel, James, Kiley, Lee (and Teagan)

I didn't realize until the phone rang that I'd be going into Portland today to pick Lee up and come back with him to Astoria. Laurel and James were going in anyway to spend Thanksgiving with Laurel's mom, and I rode in with them. We all got ready quickly, since they hadn't planned to leave until early afternoon. Kiley (above) was prepared at a moment's notice, so no problem there. The only issue is that I felt like taking pictures, and Kiley seemed to think the camera was an evil instrument of torture, because she'd turn away and pop into the back of the car when I pointed the lens in her direction.

It was a stunningly gorgeous fall day. The drive to Portland from Astoria takes about two hours, but I never get tired of it. Even though it's on highway and Interstate Freeway, the scenery is mostly trees and forests. The route goes along the Columbia River the whole way, although it's usually hidden by trees and the sloping bank. One drives east to Longview, then south to Portland. Ships can navigate all the way to Portland. The quickest auto route is from Astoria to Longview on the Oregon side of the river, then from Longview to Portland on the Washington side. At Vancouver, Washington, we cross the river again into Portland (Oregon). You can go the southern route from Astoria over Highway 26, but we usually go via Longview along the river.

Here's Laurel, driving.

It's too bad about the power lines here. The colors are beautiful. The black dots are Canada geese. You can see the white patches on their faces when you blow it up to the original size. There are a lot of sloughs along the river. We're on the Washington side of the Interstate now.

Lee likes trains, and I took a couple of photos for him. The engines were orange and horribly out of focus, so I didn't include them.

Not that these pix are so interesting, but this blog is my memory book, so . . . it doesn't matter.

I'm sure this pic doesn't do justice to the light. Everywhere we drove in the city, the sun shone through colorful leaves. I love the black trunk and the leaves in contrast. I couldn't get a shot of some of the best ones, so I settled for this tree near Starbucks when we stopped the car.

More light and leaves, although this tree looks more like spring than fall.

These bushes were pretty against Starbucks' latte-colored wall.

Here is Laurel with Lee (her dad). They hadn't seen each other for about six weeks. First Lee and I went to Paris for a week, then he spent three weeks in India, a week in Chicago and a week in Bend. Meanwhile, Teagan has been growing to the size of a pineapple (according to the baby web site). I'm not sure if that's with leaves on or off. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to be together. We all had sushi for lunch with Laurel's mom, then Lee and I drove back to Astoria where the sun was history, at least for now.

November sunset in Astoria

The sunset was blazingly beautiful tonight to the west from our side deck. But ugh! the telphone wires and power lines! I knew there was little time, but I went out the front door and took a picture from the front of our place of the sky over the building at 14th and Commercial (below). Sunlight is magical and the sunrises and sunsets fade so fast.

This photo is not in good focus, but it's that thing I like where the electric lights are seen against a morning or evening sky.

Monday, November 24, 2008

High desert and Mount Hood, Oregon

It was a gorgeous drive across the high desert back to Astoria from Bend today. When I stopped to take photos it was colder than it looks. It's been in the 20s or low 30s at night.

This is Mt. Hood, as seen from the desert. The air was hazy, but that only makes the peak stand out more by contrast. I like the way it hovers over the golden grass.

I caught the last rays of sun on the mountain as I began the stretch of highway that rounds the great peak before you get to Government Camp.

Here the last rays of sun turn the rocks and snow a gentle pink.

It was breathtaking, as always, and today it was cold. The snow is fairly new as of about a week or so, and we'll need more storms before the slopes are open for skiing. By the time I got down to Gresham, it was dark and I missed a turn. I now know the way from Gresham to I-205. You just go straight.

November sunrise in Bend

Morning light on the purple bedcover.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Empty with lights on

My courduroy pants had shrunk and, yeah, I'd probably put on a couple of pounds also. We went out to buy a new pair and found them first try, which is always a good thing. The store was new and shiny, the racks were filled with merchandise, the sales people were smiling and more than willing to help - quite a bit more than willing in some cases. The racks had tags marked 50% off and then 25% off on top of that. And the customers were nowhere to be found. It was only about 6 pm on a Friday night. Maybe they were at restaurants or the movies, or maybe they just weren't buying I liked the design in the window and the overall image, so I thought I'd see if the camera would capture it. It did a pretty good job.

Frosty morning in Bend

It was chilly last night with a little frost this morning. We passed one driveway that was iced over. It must have puddled up with water last night. A woman coming out of Safeway said, "I guess the summer is over." It seems they've had a very long warm season. It's fine with me that there isn't more frozen water around, because I have to drive back to Astoria this weekend, and I don't have snow tires.

Lee has snow tires on his car, so it's very rare that I would need them. This year may be different. I may end up getting some, but we'll see. My car usually stays in Astoria, where snow and ice are (most winters) a rare occasion. There are photos from the 1800s or early 1900s with Astoria iced up and the river frozen, but those days are long gone. Or so it seems. Maybe global warming will bring back the cold weather here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Doc's on 12th Street at night - Astoria, Oregon

Walking home along the river, I took this from in front of the Wet Dog. The colors came out much more intense than in real life.

I spent another day uploading pictures to my Picasa Web Albums. I have so many more I want to put online and finally, I've found a solution I like. Wherever I put them, it needs to enhance the rankings of the TPF gift shop, and this seems to do the trick, so it's two birds, etc. Fun. I worked mostly on tapir photos today. There are fifteen tapir albums, not counting the blogs, so there should be a good place to put just about everything. Now comes the fun of searching the hard drive and the paper files. I chose Picasa Web Albums because the photos I have on the blogs each have an album set up for them already. I had no idea until the other day that this is where Google stored the photos. Also, it's related to Panoramio through Google, and I've been using Panoramio for our Paris trip photos and pix of Astoria (so far). Also, if you run out of space for the albums, you can buy more at a very cheap rate. And then I found a bunch of fun tools, so while I haven't played with any of the other web albums, I'm very happy with this one. I could only suggest one or two changes, but Google will probably think of them anyway.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Every bike on sale

I went to Arts Night Out tonight. I haven't been for a long time and I went to two new galleries I hadn't been in at all before. Several artists in one of the galleries were completely new to me, and I particularly liked them, so that was rewarding. One of the galleries I enjoyed mainly because of the feel of the space and the creative energy there; it's hard to explain and I'm not going to look for the words tonight.

As long as I've been in Astoria, I haven't taken much advantage of the Art Walk, which I think they had once a week during summer. I've gone to the galleries more in years when I was less busy. Astoria has some very fine art to see, and of course a lot that isn't. I'd gotten tired of looking at it for awhile, and I am, admittedly, hard to pry away from my own work and play lately. But the evening was festive, with wine and hors d'oeuvres. Some of the non-gallery retailers stayed open to catch the foot traffic, and it added to the fun. Even though I knew quite a few of the people I saw, I began to feel (again) that it would be nice to make the effort to get out more and meet people and keep up old contacts. So much of my life is online right now or with people I know very well. Several of the galleries had small groups of musicians playing, and there was to be an intimate-sized concert at redhare at 8:00, but I went back to one of the shops and bought some stuff for future gifts and came back home instead. Maybe next time.

Lunar Boy gallery had invited a number of children - friends of a very sick little girl - to frame their drawings and paintings, and they were being sold to help the girl's family with hospital bills. It was striking to see the kids' art framed neatly and hung along with the typical art in the space. It was a an interesting idea for a fundraiser, and some of the paintings had been purchased.

I liked the color of the lighting and the shapes of the bikes in Bikes and Beyond, which was closed, and the sign seemed poignant tonight. Several of the retail stores and a couple of the galleries are new. It's a hard time to start a business in this economy, a hard time to do a lot of things. One of the artists I've known for awhile was saying she didn't know what she'd do without her part-time job. And yet the spirit tonight was cheery and fun, everyone making the best of a difficult time, their resolution, for the most part, showing - the will to keep on, to add, subtract, innovate, charm, involve, or whatever it's going to take.

Breakfast with Laurel

It's always nice when Laurel calls or sends a text message: "Breakfast?" It gets me out of my dungeon, off the computer, and we have a good time. We went to Coffee Girl. I like this photo of her in front of the painting with light coming through her eyes. I don't think she was really as worried as she looks here, but maybe briefly. She was talking with James and maybe talking about a test she'd taken in school.

Outside, Laurel in shadow and the background in bright sun. That's Tongue Point protruding in to the river. What you can't see here is how big the baby is getting. See Laurel's blog for details!

Friday, November 14, 2008


I took this shot in the mirror while I was getting my hair trimmed and colored at the Xclusive Salon upstairs at Docks on 12th. Celestine is the best :) I've been trying to learn more about the camera and different settings. I didn't use any of them for this, but I did get the time and time zone set - finally!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Oregon Responder

The ship on the left is a Coast Guard vessel anchored in front of our building. The blue ship on the right is chugging upriver. It's an oil skimmer called the Oregon Responder, also doing business as the Marine Responder. It docks at West Mooring Basin in Astoria and has a crew at the ready to respond (hence the name :) in case of oil spills or threatened oil spills, such as when a ship is sinking or in trouble. I took some pix of it in the dock a few weeks ago, but didn't know what it was. Lee explained its job, and I found it on the Internet tonight. I have no idea where it was going on the river today - maybe just getting some exercise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Flood watch in Clatsop County

It's been raining for a couple of days and today Clatsop County is under flood watch till this evening. It shouldn't be too bad in our location. Everything runs into the river. I took this from our Animal Store (Tapir and Friends) gift shop window. This small lake was a parking lot until yesterday. Actual flooding is more likely to occur further south in Seaside.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A hawk visits the radio tower

Some kind of hawk visited the radio tower for a few minutes today. It could have been a red-tailed hawk - there are lots of them in Oregon, but I've never seen a hawk on our tower. They can usually be found perching on the power poles over freeways. I saw a heron on our tower once, but it's unusual to have interesting birds perch there. The picture was taken at the extent of my zoom, and I couldn't get any closer. Someday it will be fun to have a longer lens for moments like this. I then took some pix of the water and missed the raptor's flight off the tower.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Shangor of Luxembourg

The Shangor has been with us all week. Since I've begun paying attention to the names of the ships, I've found that you can look them up online and get some cool information, such as the country whose flag it flies, when it was "born," and a lot more details if you're interested or persistent. I haven't spent much time investigating, but just by plugging the ship's name into Google, I came up with a few sites:

Ship Spotting: See this ship in other locations via photos others have uploaded to the web. Pretty neat.

See where the ships are in Oregon: Since this is a Google map, you can zoom in and get a better view. Put the cursor over a ship icon and you can see where it's going, etc. I don't understand the ETA, because the Shangor was to have been at the Port of Kalama just up the river in Washington on October 29. Maybe it went already and is on its way back to sea. I have no idea why it's been sitting out here for so long, though. It seems like about a week. From this map, there are other views you can get with other sets of info.

ShipPlotter: Astoria view. Hold the cursor over the names.

Statistics: And another photo.

Have fun. I expect to be posting more ships' names because I'm having fun with them and I can't help seeing the ships every day. When I stand up from my computer, they become part of my world.

And by the way, you can tell something else from the photo, too, if you know which side of the river I'm on. I'm in Oregon, and the river divides Oregon from Washington, so the mouth of the river is to the left in the photo (several miles away, but still to the left). Since the anchor is stationary and the ship is upriver from it in approximately a straight line, the tide in the river is flooding. We get approximately eight feet of tidal bore here. I can watch the pilings outside my window or from the back deck as the appear and disappear to that extreme. So the river is almost full now for today's tide level, and the broken pilings in view are nearly covered. When the tide is out far enough, we have mud below our building, and the raccoons love it, because they can come down and look for food. When the tide is turning, the ships turn with it and we get to see it at every angle until it reaches ebb, when the water is at its lowest. Sometimes you see ships at different angles when there are a number of them in sight. The river is wide enough that the currents and tides can differ across the width of the river. I took this photo around 8 this morning, and now at 10:09, the ship is facing me head on.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Colors on the catwalk and water, Astoria

Pos Knight on the Columbia River, Astoria

Here are three pictures of the bulk ship Pos Knight taken from the deck outside my office in Astoria. As usual, I took them because I liked the colors. I exposed for the house at the stern of the ship this time, so you can see the detail (below). Usually it gets burned out, being such a light color against the dark. I don't know if I'll ever get the color of this line of ships exactly right - the camera distorts the orange, which is a gorgeous color, hard to describe (but see the bottom photo for a closer match). I like the top photo because you can see the bridge to Washington (the hills on the other side of the river). From my location to the mountains is about 4 miles. I used the longest extension of my lens.

Here is the Pos Knight again. You can see the deck on the left belonging to the River Pilots, and the rail in the foreground is the catwalk to the radio tower on our building. The faint line above the pilots' deck railing is the bridge, miles away. I'm actually writing this post on November 27, although I dated it for when the photos were taken on November 4th. Today I looked up the Pos Knight online and found it had just left Townsville in Australia today (Nov. 26th, their time?). Here's the shipping map.

This may be more like the real color.

A changeable morning on the Columbia River as we all wait for election results

These changes occured within a short time, maybe half an hour or 45 minutes. In fact, there were more, but this pretty much shows it:


Fog and rain

Hail and rain