A few years ago, my mother and I went on a genealogy romp through Oregon trying to track down the records of my family. We swung out into Eastern Oregon to one of my favorite nature parks, Painted Hills. I’ve photographed it for many years. Here are a few of the choice images from that trip to revisit this odd geological spot where the winds and rains have worn away the topsoil to reveal amazing colors of the minerals in the ground.
I love driving in the snow. Yeah, I know that most people freak out, but I’ve always been calm and cool when driving in winter conditions, even extreme. I know what I’m doing and I have total confidence in my abilities. What I don’t have confidence in are the other people.
I was thrilled when the snow started coming down in waves of great flakes on our last day at Breitenbush Hot Springs. It feel on our warm faces and into the waters of the meadow hot pools. You could see the snowflake as it sank and melted into the water. It was beautiful and amazing, and cold.
Brent wanted to leave early but I reminded him that it is always safer to drive on compact snow rather than slushy stuff. We had lunch and then headed out.
The trees bent down over the road with the weight of the snow accumulated over the past few days, creating a tunnel of white and shades of gray.
Love it. What a great way to leave our peaceful retreat and re-enter the world.
It was freezing cold outside. And dark. Not the kind of dark that just comes with night but the dark that happens when the earth passes between the sun and the moon.
It was February 20, 2008, and I was in our new temporary home in Gaston, Oregon, an hour west of Portland, in time for the total eclipse of the moon. Brent and I stood in the cold for hours to photograph and watch this rare event.
NASA explained that the difference between this eclipse and other annual eclipses is that this one was first visible to the majority of people on the planet, covering the Americans, Europe, Africa, and western Asia. The full eclipse happens only when there is a full moon and only if the moon passes through some portion of Earth’s shadow, when the earth, sun, and moon are in total alignment.
We are used to seeing solar eclipses, where the moon blocks the sun for a few minutes. A lunar eclipse lasts for hours as the earth blocks the light hitting the moon. No special glasses are required for a lunar eclipse, unlike a solar eclipse. The previous total or full lunar eclipse was three years before. The next one is April 15, 2014.
There are two shadows that the earth cats on the moon, an inner an outer shadow. It is the inner shadow, the umbra, that happens when earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the moon, making it totally dark. If the moon passes through the umbra, it is a partial eclipse. If the moon passes through both the umbral (outer shadow), then a total eclipse occurs. We were in for a total eclipse.
As the moon passes through the various stages of the eclipse, it turns from red to dark brown and dark gray. That is what we experienced.
For us, it was a rare enough event as clouds didn’t interfere with the show. Continue reading
When I photograph people and I don’t have time for signing model releases, I take care to hide their faces. This beautiful woman, an artist selling her wares at the Lavender Festival, Washington County, Oregon, turned her head away to reveal the lovely hat she was wearing, which was what I really wanted to capture in the first place.
I love hats, and I love people who wear hats. They are not easy to photograph, both the hats and the people who wear them. If you catch them from the front, most of the time their faces are shaded and the camera can’t handle the contrast between the brightness of the fore and background and the darkness of the shade under the hat. Photographing them from the side helps, but you have to watch for extreme dark and light areas.
Photographing from the back is perfect as you get the hat on the person without the worry of over or underexposure issues. If that is the story, then you’ve aced it.
This woman was dressed so perfectly for the event and her lavender artwork in a beautiful antique dress and this magnificent hat with the huge flowers and ribbons. If I’d had more time, I would have asked her to pose for me, had her sign the model’s agreement, and spent a lot more time arranging her with her artwork. Unfortunately, we were on the run. Maybe next year.
Living at the farm in Gaston, Oregon, our lives revolved around the animals. Every morning I was greeted with honks and haws from the four Littles, a family of miniature donkeys. Owned and managed (okay, their food slave) by Leslie, mom, dad, and two children were the rock stars of the farm.
Karina was the old mother, pushing near 30 give or take. Rocko was the old man, a sucker for having his matted backside dug into and scratched for hours on end, if he had his way. Nina was the girl, fairly young and delicate, a bit skittish and yet pushy when something got between her and her food. Guido was the little boy of the family, looking like Karina with his soft gray coat, and spoiled beyond belief.
In their winter coats, I caught the four waiting for food along the fence. In winter, when the ground was muck and cold, they’d stay close to the barn and house, just hanging around for food. During the summer, they’d wander all over the property eating everything and anything that wasn’t high off the ground. Our own mammal lawn mowers.
Still, I miss those cute guys.
For the past few years, we’ve enjoyed the popular Lavender Festival in Washington and Yamhill County, Oregon. Covering North Plains to the north, south to McMinnville, and east towards Beaverton, many farms around the area hosting beautiful gardens, food, galleries, shops, games, and artwork.
This year the Oregon Lavender Festival is July 9-10, 2011, in Yamhill County. The other local lavender festivals run the first two to three weeks of July, alternating weeks so they aren’t all at the same time across the various communities.
I learned how to make lavender wands one year and spent part of the summer making them for gifts for the holidays. We tasted lavender ice cream (yummy!) and the most refreshing lavender lemonade, and had a great time looking at all the amazing arts and crafts created in this area.
Here are a few images from the past two years of festival fun, lavender making, and more from around the county. Continue reading
The “dead zone” off Oregon’s coast is back — larger, thicker, and more lethal than ever. For the fifth year in a row, scientists have witnessed thousands of sea creatures dying in the Pacific Ocean.
This year, the dead zone covers 1,200 square miles, according to Oregon State University marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco.
…”There are no fish down there that we could see,” Lubchenco said. “This is an area where we have measured chronically low oxygen.”
…Scientists found almost no oxygen in the water there. According to OSU marine ecologist Francis Chan, “we’re only half-a-step away from zero — or the absence of oxygen.”
According to the article, the “dead zone” covers the Pacific Coastal area of Oregon from Florence to Lincoln City, with a smaller “pocket dead zone” just off Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to the north.
Have you heard of this? It’s a new one for me.
The Free Internet Press reports:
This dead zone is unlike those in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, which result from fertilizer, sewage or runoff from hog or poultry operations carried by rivers. The Oregon zone appears when the wind generates strong currents carrying nutrient-rich but oxygen-poor water from the deep sea to the surface near shore, a process called upwelling.
The nutrients encourage the growth of plankton, which eventually dies and falls to the ocean floor. Bacteria there consume the plankton, using up oxygen.
Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, said the phenomenon did not appear to be linked to recurring El NiÃ±o or La NiÃ±a currents or to long-term cycles of ocean movements. That made Dr. Lubchenco wonder if climate change might be a factor, she said, adding, â€œThere is no other cause, as far as we can determine.â€
The dead zone, which appears in late spring and lasts a matter of weeks, has quadrupled in size since it first appeared in 2002 and this year covers about 1,235 square miles, an area about as large as Rhode Island, Dr. Lubchenco said.
The zone dissipates when winds shift.
A report on Yahoo News via the AP says the “Pacific Dead Zone to Exceed Fears”:
Scientists say the oxygen-starved “dead zone” along the Pacific Coast that is causing massive crab and fish die-offs is worse than initially thought.
Scientists say weather, not pollution, appears to be the culprit, and no relief is in sight. However, some say there is no immediate sign yet of long-term damage to the crab fishery.
Oregon State University scientists looking for weather changes that could reverse the situation aren’t finding them, and they say levels of dissolved oxygen critical to marine life are the lowest since the first dead zone was identified in 2002. It has returned every year.
Strong upwelling winds pushed a low-oxygen pool of deep water toward shore, suffocating marine life, said Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at OSU.
…After a recent trip to the dead zone and an inspection via camera on a remote-controlled submarine, she said, “We saw a crab graveyard and no fish the entire day.”
“Thousands and thousands of dead crab and molts were littering the ocean floor. Many sea stars were dead, and the fish have either left the area or have died and been washed away,” she said. “Seeing so much carnage on the video screens was shocking and depressing.”
While many blame global warming, and try to blame pollution, according to this report, “Some dead zones been caused by agricultural runoff. Those similar to Oregon’s have been found off of Africa in the Atlantic and Peru in the Pacific.” So Oregon isn’t an isolated event.
The Oregonian reports on other scientific discoveries associated with this anomaly:
Scientists suspect swings in the Earth’s climate tied to global warming may be shifting wind conditions to bring about such grim results.
Seawater turns deadly for marine life when concentrations of the dissolved oxygen they breathe fall below about 1.4 milliliters per liter. On Monday, Chan measured a concentration of .05, or almost 30 times below the lethal level, about 90 feet below the surface.
It is very close to a complete absence of oxygen, a situation rarely known in the world’s oceans, said Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State. New bacteria that take over when oxygen disappears are known to release poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas.
From the many articles I read through, it is possible the hypoxia off the Oregon Coast may have been happening long before this recent five year spell, though there is little historical evidence yet. Now that this event has hit its five anniversary, it’s no longer a fluke and worth more interest and research.
How long it will last, how wide it will spread, are all questions awaiting answers.
Yachats, Oregon, is near one of my favorite tide pool beaches where sea lions hang out due to the abundant food resources. I fear that if their food has starved for lack of oxygen, they they may leave the area. The tidal areas will suffer as well, I’m sure.
When my mother grabbed the map and yelled over the sound of wind and traffic rushing into the motor home windows that the nearest “big” town was Redmond, I heard “Redman”. Well, just like the famous “Redmond” in Washington State, home of Bill Gates’ fortune and fame, Microsoft, there is also a Redmond, Oregon. After traveling through such beautiful Indian and Cowboy country, I would have expected “Redman” to be an appropriate town name.
The winds were open, in fact, all of the windows in the motor home were open because we’d just stopped to take in an awe-inspiring scenic view when my mother ducked into the back of the motor home to “check out the loo” and mentioned she smelled ammonia. I ordered her out of the motor home NOW and, thankfully, she moved without question. I opened up all the windows and turned off the fridge and stood outside for a bit. I then ducked inside and traced the smell to the refrigerator, an old beat-up, used piece of crap my father had put in by a total idiot a few years ago that has been the bane of our existence from day one. When it works, it freezes the hell out of EVERYTHING. When it doesn’t, it becomes a hot box. It takes four or five steps to light, and then you have to check it constantly. Even when hooked to electricity. My father was very unhappy with the fridge and it’s installation, having been hobbled together from three different RV fridges and put together with pieces hanging around, so he took it back the next day to find that the guy had been arrested for who knows what and was in jail, never to be heard from again. Such is the story with all of his “projects” and “fixes”. I just keep moving on, ignoring them and living with the consequences.
So it wasn’t a surprise and the first culprit for any ammonia smell.
Leaking refrigerant coolant can kill. Have no doubts about that. This could have been leaking in the night and you might have found our dead bodies rotting in the parking lot of some WalMart or grocery store around the country. But we caught it and I drove like a crazy person, keeping the vehicle moving and air flowing through, to the nearest RV repair shop, which, of course, can’t get to it until tomorrow morning at the soonest. Let’s hope no one smokes near it tonight. Could be a hell of an explosion.
We found a motel on the other side of Redmond and walked over to the nearby WalMart (how appropriate) to get an ice chest. I told them to yank the sucker out and pitch it. I’m done with that fridge. We’ll get a taxi back early in the morning to await their completion. Buggers.
Also, my apologizes for my last post. I couldn’t hang onto a WIFI connection for more than a few minutes and I tried for over an hour to get the last post to fully submit all of its parts to the database but only the post content would go, not the details, so the formatting was all screwed up.
We’ve been in east and central Oregon where towns and gas stations are very hard to find and far apart. And few people know what WIFI is, though some do when you translate it to “wireless Internet”. I love watching the light bulb go off and then the face screw up and I know the next thing coming out of their mouths is “I’ve heard about that.” Not much good that does for me, though.
We’ve also had no cell phone connection. My mother and I have different cell companies and both failed to connect most of the time. And when they do, step a meter to the side and you lose the signal. My mother likes to check in with her husband regularly, as they have a business together and grandchildren to discuss and so on, and she had a hard time for four days finding a signal. I gave up after two days. She has more patience than I.
Brent made it back home from his own trip to Oregon (no, I didn’t get to see him – darn!!!) and had the time of his life with old and new friends, playing guitar and learning a lot of new things. His trip, he reports, was absolutely fantastic until the return flight home when he was met with late flights causing him to potentially miss connecting flights, that luckily (and unluckily) were delayed without notice, lost luggage, and a dead car battery in the airport that was shut down because his was the last flight in and no one was anywhere. Ugh. He managed to get the car started (yeah, clutches!) and went home and crashed in the middle of the night. He picked up our two fuzzy kitty children and they seemed to have survived their own 10 day adventure, and Brent is off to get a new car battery for his first evening back. Ain’t travel fun and exciting!
After more genealogical success in Portland, my mother and I headed for The Dalles, Oregon, to look up and photograph my paternal grandmother’s tombstone. The cemetery was much larger than I remembered and I could recall was that the last time I was there, the stone was way back from the road and and near some low lying green bushes. Well, those low lying green bushes turned into tower bushy trees so I wasn’t sure where the stone was, but we did find it! This saved us spending the night there waiting for the office to open in the morning.
So we drove on into the Oregon mountains towards more fun and adventure.
We took our time, chatting and catching up on years of too quick of visits, and I grilled her about her family’s history, tree, and stories. We also took time out to go through some of my research paperwork, adding information on our family tree and history into my computer.
We went to the John Day – Painted Hills Unit to photograph the famous and incredibly unusual Painted Hills in sunset, was a bit of dud but I worked with what I had. And then we drove on to spend a couple days at Kah-nee-ta – Hot Springs and Casino. We ignored the casino and main hotel, camping in their lovely RV park near the hot springs pool and spa, and spoiled ourselves for a change.
We left late this morning, after feeling totally refreshed and ready for more days on the road exploring, and then the crap hits the fan and the fridge breaks.
They will pull and toss it in the morning and we’ll hit the road with an old fashioned ice chest for the rest of the trip over the mountains and to the coast. We just learn to cope with what we have and do the best we can with the rest.
After dropping my father off at his home, after months of warmth and fun, he’s back in the rain and cold of Seattle. I slept for a few days (after weeks of not sleeping – and I mean weeks that add up to months), then packed my mother up in the little motor home and we are in Portland, Oregon.
The goal here in Portland was to do some genealogy research and then play. After driving the small motor home around for over an hour in downtown Portland, we finally found a parking spot, wedged into a high roofed parking garage. Amazing. Then we hiked up the hill to the County Courthouse where we struck out. Or so we thought.
I’m trying to track down information on Louella Pinder, my great grandmother, who is a big question mark. She supposedly didn’t marry my great grandfather, and he might not have even known he had a son. At the age of six, my grandfather and his half sister (6 months old) were abandoned in Portland by their mother, handed over to the Juvenal Courts and put in “children’s homes”, aka orphanages. Grandfather’s sister was rescued by her father after a couple years, but he was in the orphanage until he was about 13 or 14 years old when his father finally found him and pulled him out.
Tracking children down in orphanages and adoption agencies is very difficult. I called around and did some Internet searching and found that all children’s homes and charities run by the Catholics in Oregon were consolidated under the Catholic Charities in Portland. A few phone calls found an incredibly helpful woman who recruited some of her interns to dig through the “dungeon” of old files. She warned me that this was probably a dead end search as there are only two books of records from that time period still in known existence. Many got rid of their records, handed them over to other agencies, or who knows. One hundred years is a long time.
So I didn’t expect much, and didn’t expect to get a phone call early in the week from this wonderful woman telling me that she had found one line on a card about my grandfather. I was thrilled.
So we’ve come to Portland to get a copy of that one line record, saying when he was admitted, baptized, and released, and to hunt up his mother’s records.
The county courthouse was a bust. No mention of Louella Pinder or any of her surnames (she married a few times and through stories passed down, I learned she wasn’t very selective.), but there was a Lulu Parrett, and Parrett is one of her last surnames on record. The records in the courthouse were for a GUAR which my mother guessed was “guarantee”, like some kind of debt note, though I’m not sure. We were only guessing so I decided not to get those records.
We then did a little shopping to justify the $10 spent when our mission was over in 20 minutes. I haven’t been near a Nordstrom’s in years, so that was a treat. I love walking around downtowns, especially active and vibrant ones like Portland. It was fun to see all the people and I felt so at home with family people types, figures, clothings, fashions, and attitudes.
Then we pulled the motor home out of it’s costly parking spot and headed to the Department of Human Services and Vital Records. I filled in the form for Louella Pinder and what came back after another $20 and another 20 minutes was the death certificate for Lula Parrett with the same last known address which I found in my grandfather’s 1925-26 log book from when he was on the USS Arizona, along with a note of the date of her death. After many decades of research, I finally found Louella. And more leads. And it looks like the County records of “Lula” may be the same. More clues!
Family stories told of her being born in Canada, so I’ve been hunting for Pinders in Canada. Yet, while she might have been born in Canada, where we have no clue, it says her father was born in England! I also found that Pinder isn’t her maiden name. I have her father’s last name but nothing on her mother. Another mystery to dig into. All those years spent looking for her in places she may have never been. Amazing what you can learn from a little bit of information.
Today we head to the Juvenal Courts and Catholic Charities to continue our research. I’ve tried finding the address for Louella Parrett in Portland on Cook Street from 1930, but I can’t find 1930 downtown Portland maps, nor does Google or Yahoo maps turn up a Cook Street. There is a NE Cook and N Cook but no straight Cook Street. I’ll have to dig into some archives at a library to find that information.
So the hunt goes on. After we do a little more research, I think my mother and I are going to head to the Painted Hills of Oregon to do some photography, then to the beach for some ocean smells and tidal pools, then make our way home to Seattle.
This has been a busy but amazing trip and I’m learning so much about my family history. But there is so much more to learn.