Friday, January 30, 2009

Pens and tapirs - Wow, thank you!

Oops, I just posted this on the wrong blog. It happens sometimes when you have six or so blogs! Anyway, the Tapir and Friends online gift shop is a huge part of my life and so are tapirs. I'll leave the post here instead of moving it :) I'm in Bend today working online for the gift shop and tapirs, and Sue is in Astoria working in the gift shop (which means also for tapirs). This has become part of the pattern of my life. Below my next comment is a letter that made both of us smile this morning, for sure!

The other day I blogged (on the gift shop blog) about our carved wood animal pens, and today we received a wonderful "Thank You" letter from a customer who bought quite a number of them. He wrote:

I just wanted to let you know that I received the order, and I am absolutely THRILLED. The craftsmanship and painting is remarkable, and I'm sure my little cousin will love all the stuff I got for her! (She's 9 and loves animals!) I'm so impressed by everything that I will definitely be ordering things for myself, and probably more for my family and friends! I loved reading your story about how you became interested in Tapir's . . . and how you raised Stanley in your house! You sound very passionate about Tapir's and helping endangered animals, and I think what you're doing is truly great!

Thanks so much, and I'm sure we'll be in contact again soon!

~ P

I e-mailed back (among other things):

We so appreciate your order. It all helps so much when we're trying to help the tapirs and keep up with the economy! And, we especially love to hear that someone appreciates the products we've chosen to sell. There are a lot out there, and we have particular standards for what we want to offer. So, it was heartwarming to hear how much you like them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An evening on the Deschutes River

I took this photo earlier in the day while Lee was doing an errand downtown. There were tables outside the bakery/cafe, and I loved the idea that it was a non-smoking area, even outdoors. I've come to detest cigarettes and cigarette smoke, even though I have lived with smokers in the past and it didn't bother me. As I've gotten older and as more damaging reports have come out, it seems to be a combination of personal disgust and intellectual awareness that convince me I would be happy if everyone on earth quit smoking today and that was the end of it. Anyway, it's nice to see the area designated as clean air space.

I'd been working all day, and I needed to get out. In the late afternoon, we went down to the Old Mill district for an early dinner or snack or something on that order. The old mill used to produce plywood, I think; anyway, it was lumber-related, and now it's a very cool REI store. The stacks are sunning to look up at. They seem even taller in person. And speaking of clean air, I'm sure it produced its share of pollutants even as it brought money into the local economy.

These storefronts are located right near the old mill. It's the next building to the left of the photo. It's a pleasant, clean, upscale, nicely designed area of town. There's nothing left of the industry that created the area in the first place.

A beautiful scene on the Deschutes in evening light near a row of restaurants.

Another scene on the Deschutes with mountains on the horizon.

Mountains in the evening light. The Deschutes River is in the foreground.

Interior of the Italian restaurant, where Lee and I went for appetizers, which turned out to be big enough for dinner. We had a nice window table with a view over the river. As you can see, the place wasn't exactly packed, but then it was still early. Even so, people are simply not buying and spending the way they were. You hear it everywhere because it IS everywhere. The economy is scary right now. I've been off bread, trying to eat low glycemic, and I was dismayed when Lee ordered an entire plate of bread baked on the premises, to be dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. "Oh, well," I said, "I guess for this one day I'll just go for it." I'm glad I did. It was SO good, and although I got full, I didn't feel bloated. I'm not sure why not. Anyway, it was incredibly good and I recommend it highly. I wish I remembered the name. We also had shrimp in some kind of thin sauce, which were also excellent. There were beautiful black and white photos of Italy on the walls, especially in the bathroom and the passageway to it. The bathroom was perfumed. It was all very nice. Apparently it's a chain, and there's one in Portland. It's not Bella Cucina, it's the other Italian restaurant right there on the river.

The day was clear, and the light was gorgeous and calming as evening grew later. When we left the restaurant, I saw ducks in the distance. I'm used to the birds that hang out near my office in Astoria, and I wanted to be quiet so I could get their picture before I scared them away. Little did I realize at that moment that these ducks were not going to flee.

When you emerge from a restaurant in that sector of the Deschutes, the ducks are ready for handouts. These came cruising toward us without fear. I love this picture of ducks and patterns in the muted colors of evening.

Sorry, ducks! We didn't bring food. In any event, they should not be eating bread and pasta, popcorn and other non-ducky handouts. They don't seem to know it, thought. Hey, ducks, you should be eating plants. You're supposed to like grass seeds, aquatic plants, and a few insects. Yummm. There's a nice article on mallard ducks here on Nature Works.

It's really pleasant this time of evening on a warmish day walking back to the car. The temperature drops fast when the sun goes down, but it's unseasonably warm for January, and we weren't freezing or anything.

This is also near restaurant row in the Old Mill District of Bend.

If you can't see the planet in the upper left, click on the photo to enlarge it. I was jazzed that I got the moon and planet in focus. :) It's probably Venus, but I know and care a lot less about the sky than I do about other things. I like Earth and underwater studies better. Maybe because animals live there.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Freezing snow, cold birds: Bend, Oregon

It snowed again last night - not a lot, but it was more than last night, and it was really cold, about 9 degrees or so when we left the house.

While Lee ordered coffee at Starbucks, I walked carefully across the parking lot to get a photo of the long icicle on top of the Safeway building.

Here's the front of Safeway in morning shadow.

This is the tree outside the kitchen window - just beautiful with snow clinging to it. It's too cold to melt.

We had house finches at the bird feeder. This is the male, with red on it. There was a female with him, but my pictures of the pair didn't turn out. Maybe tomorrow.

Here's the male again peering down from the metal bar of the feeder. Cold feet??? You can click on it. He's in focus, and I'm very pleased about that.

We drove around Pilot Butte en route to the shopping center to look for a desk chair that will be kind to my back. The chairs we have now came from a garage sale several years ago, and they are killers when you spend as much time online as I do. Believe it or not, most of what I do online is for business.

We had errands at Costco before going over to Office Max to look at chairs. On the way across the parking lot from Costco to Office Max, I saw this tree with ice still on it at about 1:00 in the afternoon. It was only about 25 degrees out and the ice wasn't melted despite the brightness of the day.

Near the pine tree above was this lovely sight. Actually, it was this tree that drew me across the snowy parking lot in the first place.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mexican food for the road, and Mona Lisa Revealed

We weren't exactly late getting out of town, but things kept cropping up. I took my time packing pounds and pounds of stuff because we'll probably be in Bend for a couple of weeks, and I wanted to bring projects to sort, clean up, and work on. We had tickets for 7:00 to a slide lecture in Portland on Secrets of the Mona Lisa. Here's a photo from where we're stopping for a late lunch on the way out of Astoria. I had a quesadilla con pollo, and it was SO good. It's just on the west end of Marine Drive before you get to the traffic circle. See the speakers down by the tire? I didn't take more photos because it was just cold and I wasn't in the mood. There were some by the front tire, too. It was nice to have music and covered tables. Rap is not my music choice, but it wasn't too bad. I could have handled Mariachi or rock, or even Beethoven; that would have been a bonus. We were not there long. We were waiting for the Pathfinder to get its oil changed, then Lee noticed that he could get fresh razor clams next door to take along, so we carried our paper plates to the made-over gas station that sells seafood. It was actually a relief because I could eat of the of wind. When Lee was finished talking to Ron and getting clams, we headed back to the place where the oil was being changed. I wasn't done eating, so my plate and I moved again. The guy who changed the oil noticed that a tire was low (again), so the next stop was Les Schwab. They were fast, and soon we were . . . not quite out of there, but stopping at Fred Meyer to get a cooler for the clams on ice. THEN we were out of there and en route to Portland on Highway 26.

The presentation on the Mona Lisa was fascinating. It was free, and surprisingly poorly attended. Of course, it was my first attendance at an Omsi lecture, so maybe that's typical. I'm encouraged to see the whole show when it goes up. I will say it was a bit hard to understand, partly because of Pascal Cotte's heavy French accent, and sometimes his voice wasn't loud enough, but we had good 3rd-row seats. He was engaging, personable, incredibly smart and curious, answered questions from the audience, and had a good visual presentation. He had a fascinating topic and had done extensive research that was almost hard to imagine in its intricacy and its duration through time. I won't go into it here. You can read more about it online. Look for "25 Secrets of the Mona Lisa Revealed."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Boats, baby, and a brand new President!

If anyone wonders why my blogs often start with ships and boats, it's because ships and boats are often the first things that catch my attention in the morning. It's still a novelty to wake up, look out the window, and see the variety of them every day. I don't know what kind of boat the smaller Hickson is or what it was doing, but it dashed left out of sight, and then came back headed toward the dock at the Maritime Museum.

Later in the morning, I dropped by to see my little grandtapir. He'd just had a bath and Laurel was folding clothes. I asked if he still cried and screamed during bathtime, but she said no, he's getting used to it. He looked so tiny and adorable propped up by himself on the bed. The light was good and I took a few pictures before I picked him up. It's surprising how close things have to be for babies this age to see them, and we had a good time looking into each other's eyes for awhile before he got sleepy. I could see he was really watching my eyes and following them. It was fun.

Teagan's been growing. He's put on some weight, which is good - about two pounds, I think, which puts him over 7 lbs. and less than 8. He changes fast, so I don't know the exact statistics. You can check out his mom's blog for more details. I can't believe I'm doing this. I never had much use for babies before unless they had fur, feathers, or a carapace, and especially if they had spots and stripes. Those were my criteria for interesting babies. I'm happy to see that Teagan is at least lounging amid stripes, even though he isn't wearing them. For the uninitiated, I will give you this explanatory link: really, shouldn't a baby look more like this one? (follow the link). . . .

Or this . . . I'm getting used to him :)

Hmmmmm. (Yeah?)

Not having television, and having the inauguration come in the middle of my work day, I missed it, so I thought I'd record the newsstand version of the historic event. It was kind of cool turning around outside the post office and being reminded that TODAY WE HAVE A NEW PRESIDENT! I feel lucky and happy to be seeing this historic day. Like so many, I feel optimistic and I look forward with anticipation to what I hope will be a very different next four years. At least he sounds intelligent when he talks, and I do like looking at Michelle. She wears watchable clothing. I like that!

I liked the simplicity of the "Daily A's" front page. Here's another one.

I was still in front of the post office, and the tree reflected in my car window looked photogenic. Ever since Marcela said she looked for reflections in photos, I've been paying more attention to them. You can hardly miss this one, but you know, I almost opened up the car door without even thinking about it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Along the River Walk in the evening

There was plenty of light when I left home to walk to the gym with my backpack filled with all my stuff. I haven't bothered to put the shampoo and stuff into smaller bottles, so it was pretty heavy. I could have ridden my bike or taken the car, but sometimes it just feels like a walking day, and so it was. My back has been feeling better, maybe largely due to raising my computer screen up higher off the desk than I'd ever done before. I'm seeing a new chiropractor in Bend and she was adamant about this. It IS making a difference!

We've had clear days for about a week. The light almost looks like the dog days of summer, but it's still in the mid-40s during the day. I guess the bare trees would be a give-away, too.

I'm walking away from this scene, east toward the gym, but it's hard not to look back. I don't know what this cement slab thing is. There are all sorts of nifty ruins of things here. Most of them have to do with the heyday of canneries.

This scene is just east of Pier 39.

Now I've been to the gym, taken a long shower and am heading back. Is it beautiful, or what? If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see a ship in the sunset at the right side of the visible part of the bridge.

Lovely. There were still a few people out running and walking their dogs. I haven't reached the Maritime yet.

Looks a little like Chinese writing, but it's really the lights on the side of the old Englund Marine building making patterns between the pilings.

Now I'm home. This is Area Properties to the left and the Astor Hotel rearing up to the right. The Animal Store/TPF is just behind me. I'm going in. It's still nice out. It seems warmer than it did on the walk toward the gym. What a pretty evening it's been. And my hair's washed. Yeah! I love the new stuff I bought to put on after the conditioner. It's called BioSilk. It feels great and replaces three kinds of goo I was having to use to attempt to make it come out right. And then it didn't. On another topic, has anyone noticed how many words have a capital letter in the middle but no space (like BioSilk)? I think this happened when computers wouldn't read file names with spaces in them, and then it got trendy. Anyway, nice product! Smooth, light, non-sticky. No, I don't sell it, ask your hairdresser.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More logs and a very interesting log raft

I always like colors on the water. The camera setting was off, the light was bright, and the pic came out a little weird. You can see that the water is choppy, but the waves are no longer very big. For the past few nights, we've had waves crashing against the building so hard it felt like we were on the ocean, not a placid little river. OK, the river is big and not all that placid, but it's not like we have great breakers such as you find in the ocean. But the past few nights, the wind was whipped up at high rev somewhere across water, because the waves were relentless and sounded uneasy.

Wave-borne logs tore up the screen and some of the boards in the pilings of the River Pilots' building next door.

And this thing just below our deck was one of the more remarkable bits of flotsam I've seen yet. At first I thought it was two parallel logs tied together as a raft, but as it bobbed, I realized that it's actually a huge log vertcally halved, hollowed out and . . . don't ask me why it has weeds in the center or how they stay attached. Is that just strange? When I mentioned it to Lee, he immediately recognized what I was talking about, so it's actually some kind of thing that's not uncommon on the river. I hope he'll explain it further. If he can't, I'll go ask them at the Maritime Museum. This photo was taken looking down over our deck railing.

Ooops, there it goes! The raft-thing bobbed and then ducked under the screening below our deck that's supposed to keep objects like that out in the river and not trapped beneath the building. The building owners have been here for the past few days and are going to have an addition put on the screen so this can't happen any longer. They've been out in the middle of the night when the tide is high pushing logs with the pike pole to get them back out into the river's current, and also dragging them around in the mud to un-stick them from the screen and get them out where the water can float them away. We've had quite an onslaught of logs since the heavy rains of a week or so ago. At 3:00 in the morning with the weather so cold, I was not offering to help. Nope, I was sleeping right through it.

The crooked stick got caught higher up in the screen. I thought it was kind of interesting looking.

With the tide out, you can see another of the pesky logs (the light-colored one) left on the rocks. This is on the east side of the building - the battering was coming from three sides. The darker logs are all part of the structure.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trees in the sunset, Astoria Column

We'd had about three cloudless, rainless, fogless days in a row, although it's been cold. The sun was setting on the column, which I could see from Video Horizons as I exited with five movies, planning to hunker down and get to bed early (which I didn't). There was no time to walk up there to catch the sunset, so I drove, hoping I'd make it in time. I went up 8th Street to the ridge, then turned left on Niagara Street, and at that point realized where the action was. It was in the branches along the street. Whether I made it to the top for the sunset or not now seemed immaterial. OMG, were these trees gorgeous. What an effect the glow of the setting sun had on their tangled bare branches. Typically, the camera brought the red out a little brighter than it probably was, but I didn't tweak these pix at all.

If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see that the branches and trunks are gray where the shadows fall blocking the sunlight.

The tangle of stems at the base of the trees were pretty, too. Here the light is already fading. It's so ephemeral, you have to catch it just right. Maybe that's one reason we all love the effects of light so much, besides the fact that they can be so striking.

This replica of an Indian canoe is on display at the base of the column. I meant to get close up to the information, but it was getting dark and I didn't do it. Read more about the canoe here.

Here the sun drops below the horizon of the ocean. There's a wider view of the river on my web album. I wondered if it was ocean or fog, because the horizon level seemed high, but I think that was an optical illusion. It's so far away, it could seem higher than the river (or bay). I'm not sure if this is technically Youngs River or Youngs Bay in the foreground. Anyway, it's a lot of water flowing into the Columbia. You can see the prow of the boat in silhouette.

I've turned south. This is Youngs River flowing into Youngs Bay at the base of the Astoria hill.

We're still at the base of the column. I liked the pink behind the spiky, leafless plants.

The top of the column.

The Astoria Column with a beautiful pink and lavender sky behind it. I love the trees here at the top of the hill. This is facing approximately east from the parking area back to the column.

Here I've turned south again to catch Saddle Mountain in the clear pink sky. The posts are part of the visitor area at the column. Looks kind of cool.

I like this photo a lot. It's looking at 15th Street from the doorway of our shop at 1490 Marine Drive (actually, on the River Walk at 15th). I'm looking out through the glass that surrounds the entryway, so the glass beyond our door reflects the lamp right next to the door and puts it into the scene of 15th Street.