Friday, September 25, 2015

The Mosier Totem Pole

Art in Public Places

After living here for only four months, I already know who loves this totem pole and who doesn't.  Public art does this to a community:  Initiates dialogue and reflection.  Disagreements have been on a friendly basis.  There are no angry birds around here so I've been able to voice my opinion without getting crushed to a pulp.
This is not a tribal pole; it is not on tribal land.  But this 30 foot cedar beauty, nevertheless, was sculpted by a local artist.  Jeff Stewart teaches art at the Columbia Community College in The Dalles and lives in Dufur, Oregon.  It symbolizes the region's past and depicts the wildlife of the Columbia River.  That he borrowed an art motif from Native Americans is absolutely befitting and even ingenious.

This land is your land this land is my land 
From California to the New York Island . . .

As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway . . .
                                            Woodie Guthrie

Mosier is a tiny little town on the Columbia River with a population of 432.  There are people who have lived here all their lives, but most of us have come from distant lands.  Some of us have Native American blood; most of us do not.  All of us, however, have fallen under the spell of this beautiful place.  We meet under this totem pole for picnics, coffee breaks or simply to soak up the view.  We soar with the eagles.  Swim with the salmon.  Hike with the squirrels.  Protect our young like a mother bear.

I have only one suggestion:  That the artist return and carve me at the base!
The guardian and advocate of public art.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Atop Larch Mountain

Ever since I read that you could see five of the Cascade Peaks from this lookout on Larch Mountain, I've been itching to go.  No sense going, however, if there are clouds in the sky and in this part of the world that's almost EVERY SINGLE DAY.  The clouds finally dispersed last Saturday so we took off lickety split before they formed again.

This lookout, called Sherrard's Point, can be reached by driving up Larch Mountain Road from Corbett, Oregon.  It's 14 miles up on a beautiful road that winds through one of those dense green  forests that define the Pacific Northwest.  There's a parking lot at the top and a paved trail (with 121 steps!) which leads to the top.

Gasp!  We were able to see four of them.  Mt. Rainier was a little too far away.
  Mt. Adams

Mt. Hood

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Saint Helens




Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Hieronymus Bosch Boots

I don't know how many times over the years I've wanted to buy a pair of Dr. Marten boots.  I've tried on dozens--from burgundy patent leather to little pink flowers to big bold checks, but I never actually made it all the way to the cashier's counter with any of them.   That nagging little doubt always prevented me from plunking down a credit card.  I'm too old.  I'd look silly.  I'd embarrass my sons.  They're too affected.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

Until I saw these babies in Portland last June.  It didn't matter that it was ninety degrees outside and that I wouldn't wear them for another few months.  I HAD TO HAVE THEM.  Not a single doubt in my mind.  Not this time.

The sales clerk saw my enthusiasm and immediately apologized.  "I'm sorry, but I don't want to get your hopes up.  There's only a few left in back.  What size do you wear?"

He returned, however, with a big grin.  Mine was even bigger.  "These boots are flying out the store," he said.  "I've already seen them on e-bay for twice the retail price."

The print is taken from a painting by that very weird 15th century Dutch artist, Hieronymous Bosch.  I recognized it immediately.  I love that painting.  That painting shocked me when I first saw it in the Museo del Prado in Madrid among all the pretty Madonnas and martyred saints.  It is, of course, the panel depicting Hell from The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych altarpiece, that 500 years later has become part of our pop culture.  That Bosch was a High Renaissance painter continues to baffle me to this day.  The painting is so modern.  So full of fantasy.  And so macabre!

 I wore these boots for the first time yesterday on a short two-mile hike to break them in.  I'm happy to report that my new Docs are comfortable, as well!  No doubts.  No regrets.

Well, okay, maybe a nightmare or two.  "Tree-Man" is out to get me!

Linking up with Patti and friends at Visible Monday.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mimi Mixes It Up

"STOP.  What are you doing?"

"I'm storing my winter clothes, Mimi.  It's turned cold."

"But not the peacock top.  Not those cute floral pants.  You can wear them this fall.  Pair the pants with a brown sweater.  Wear the top under a jean jacket.  Sure, the cardigan is lightweight, but it's also the color of a pumpkin.  Like . . . in Thanksgiving???"


"In fact you can wear them together.  Right now."

"I can?"

Just goes to prove (once again) that I'm the dummy in this family; not Mimi!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kiters of the Gorge

Hood River becomes a city of tents when the forecast promises even a slight flurry of wind.  The Kiters of the Gorge are ready--all lined up, staring at the river.  Is that a white cap?  Did you feel that breeze?  Should I go smaller?

Never in my life have I encountered an entire population of people so devoted to joie de vivre.  These people work to live; not the other way around.  My husband is one of them.  Because I hike and take photographs of the river, I have been accepted into this club.  But I swear I don't know what a single one of them does for a living.  No one talks about work.  It's as if it's a forbidden subject.  Or more likely, they simply don't care.

It's all about living life to the fullest, baby. And for these people, it's being propelled across the river at breakneck speed.  The reds and oranges and blues above them weave in and out.  The kites twist and turn, dip and soar.  I try to capture this magic with my camera.  As I focus in and out, my lens becomes a kaleidoscope of stained glass window panes.
The Kiters of the Gorge are a special breed.  It's been a joy to hang out with them (if even on the sidelines).  They are friendly, optimistic and nonjudgmental.  We might very well become lifelong members.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Dinner Cruise on the Columbia

Although I love traveling to offbeat places, far off the tourist track, there are times when those kitschy attractions are worth every penny.  Such is the case with the paddle wheeler dinner cruise on the Columbia River.

My travel buddy and I waited until after Labor Day, when the crowds are gone and the sun sets before 8 pm before booking this cruise.  And boy, did we get it right!  Last Friday evening, we boarded the Columbia Gorge and spent the next two hours in a state of pure bliss.  That golden hour began not long after we were served.  We paid extra for a window view and I highly recommend it.  We had views of the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge while dining.
The timing was so perfect.  After dinner, everyone headed up to the top deck.  The captain had made a U-turn and was heading toward the Bonneville Dam.  We floated under the Bridge of the Gods, listening to his interesting stories about the history and folklore of the region.  He talked about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the hard times the early pioneers had when settling here in the early 1800's.

But it was the sun's glow on the rocks and the colorful reflections in the water that made my heart sing.  Even my travel buddy who isn't prone to hyperbole like yours truly, kissed me on the cheek and said, "I'm feeling the magic.  You did good."
The area between Cascade Locks and Bonneville Dam is one of the most picturesque parts of the Columbia River Gorge.  As we neared the dam, the setting sun cast a crimson red on the entire river.
Reluctantly, the captain once again made a U-turn to head back toward Cascade Locks.  I tried my hardest to freeze time.

There's something about gently cruising down a river that is so magical.  It's life in the slow lane.  It's living inside a landscape painting.  It's a heightened appreciation of my ticking heart.

My travel buddy was right:  Damn, I did good!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Waiting to Board

While waiting to board the sternwheeler for a dinner cruise last Friday evening, my travel buddy and I explored the Marine Park at Cascade Locks.  We have been told by the locals that once the weather changes, it's good-bye to summer.  There's no easing into winter like in Southern California.  Here, it's boom!  One day it's warm; the next it's cold.

So we took advantage of the warm evening and the 7:30 sunset and booked this cruise.  I wore my favorite white summer dress and paired it with a big scarf I purchased recently at Madewell.  As I write this post and look out the window, I can see dark clouds in the distance.  The temperature has dropped twenty degrees.

So good-bye summer.  Good-bye white flowy dresses.
Or maybe not.  There's always leggings, right?  And a big black chunky sweater.  Make my white summer dress into a winter white dress.  Add snow boots and mittens.  Who says you can't wear white after Labor Day?  Not me!


Linking up with Visible Monday.  So happy Patti is hosting this fashion round-up again.  I've missed you all!