At Eye Level

I took these pictures of tree bark and lichens during my first walk after being sick in bed for a week.

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I was tired and loopy, and really only capable of seeing things at eye level.

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I took these pictures across the street from a school where all the students were being picked up by their parents. I wonder how many of them looked across the street at the strangely dressed lady with the camera lens three inches from a random tree.

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At least I wasn’t TALKING to the tree this time. I don’t think.

Tree Texture 2

But I can’t be sure. Everything was still a little fuzzy that day.

Tree Texture 1

My vision was even a little weird: it was, in fact, an awful lot like the way the macro setting on my camera works. A few things were in sharp, almost too intense focus. Everything else was kind of a blur. It’s kind of amazing that I didn’t get hit by a car when I was crossing the street. Good thing my neighborhood is pretty quiet.

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A Little Sunshine for the Housebound

I’m siiiiick, so I’m spending the day in bed. Which is too bad, because it’s a beautiful day and I wanted to clean out the garden shed. Days like this I’m really thankful for tea, novels and Netflix.

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It also helps that I have pictures from a sunny walk I took last week. If you’re tired of pictures of trees, you might just skip this post. I have OCD–Obsessive Camera Disorder. Or something.

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And the trees in my neighborhood park are endlessly enchanting.

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Especially in late afternoon/early evening when they cast long shadows on the grass.

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And of course I had to throw a little moss into the mix.

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It’s no Forest park, but I don’t have to get in my car to visit these trees. And they’re still pretty impressive.

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Of course, it’s SUPPOSED to be raining. And I know we need the rain. But I can’t help enjoying sunshine in January.

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Green and Gray

Portland continues to sport a mostly green and gray palette this week. The days have been dark, but at least it isn’t very cold. The mossy, muddy park a few blocks from my house continues to beckon, and I go with my camera so I can see in new ways.

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This vine grows in whorls and helices on a fence along the way. I can’t wait to see what sort of vine it is: right now it looks like all the other trees and shrubs–gray bark, green lichens, greener moss.

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These wet days make the moss jewel-bright. I want to wear a skirt that color.

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Over the weekend we had a windstorm, which knocked down a bunch of branches. This one fell onto the park bench. Taking pictures of it, I had to wonder:

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Did someone intentionally choose paint the exact color of those lichens for the benches? Or was it a happy accident?

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that cold wet weather is my favorite walking weather, not only because I don’t have to share the park with as many people, but also because I find the low light and cool air soothing. It clears my head and helps me think. Which makes me think I’ll probably never move away from the Pacific Norwthwest.

Raindrops

It’s funny the way carrying a camera around changes what you focus on. I went for a walk just after it rained the other day, and all the trees and bushes were hung with perfect beads of water.

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So of course I took pictures of them. Here, then, is my photographic study of raindrops on trees and shrubs. It sounds boring, but I don’t think it is.

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I know I’ve rambled on before about how days that seem monochromatic never really are. The tree bark above is further evidence: just look close enough and you’ll see the colors.

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I’m very fond of our rainy gray winters. This is one example of why.

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There’s a lot to see in a drop of water.

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You just have to look.

In Praise of Darkness–Sort Of

I don’t feel happy and festive this time of year. A lot of the time I feel the opposite. It’s dark and cold, traffic is terrible, people are crazy with the over-spending and the tacky sweaters and the obnoxious music and the jingle bells. My family is far away, too, which creates a whole thorny tangle of emotions that I’m not going to bore y’all with. I spent yesterday feeling melancholy and reading Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair–which meant alternately cackling and weeping whilst drinking too much tea.

A Hill Full of Conifers, and Light on the Frosty Trees

But this morning the sun came up on a frozen world, and when I was getting wood for the fire I saw how pretty everything was outside. Then I came inside and my eyes fell on this:

Tara, the Sun, a Slice of Agate, Chimes, and a Swirl of Japanese Maple Twig

This is my favorite spot in our house. Our house was built in the 20’s, and since then has changed hands quite a few times. At one point it was a restaurant, and the restaurant owners cut a hole in the wall to pass orders and plates through. Later the hole was walled over on one side, creating this cool little nook. Looking at it always fills me with a sense of tranquility, especially in the morning when soft light falls across it.

Light. This is the season when I think a lot about light–the sun’s light, of course, but also the light within all of us,  the light of spirit and hope. Funny how much attention I pay to something when it seems scarce, huh?

The Volvo Looks Like It's Covered in Spray Glitter

When the light changes, I see things I didn’t see before. The young branches on the Japanese maple are red, not brown like I might have assumed. I’m maybe not as optimistic as I thought I was, now that the days are shorter. I love the Stepspawn more than I realized, but I sort of hate that one sweater I wear all the time. And even though she often makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a barbecue fork, I really miss my mom.

Japanese Maple Branches Look Good in Red

Also, chain link fences are more interesting in the cold.

This is a Fence Post. But it's Sparkly!

And even firewood can be pretty sometimes.

I am a Texture Freak

Of course I don’t need ice to realize that leaves are incredible, but I can’t get enough of the crunchy crystallized leaves, so here’s another one for y’all:

Leaves are Awesome

I spent a lot of time on the phone with a friend yesterday, mulling over why I always go a little crazy in December. Feeling sort of weepy, worrying, as I always do this time of year, that maybe this time I’m actually heading down in to depression again, like back in college when I was depressed for several years.

A Branch. Don't Ask Me Why.

And she said to me, “But you have friends around you now, and we won’t let you go down there alone.” ‘Bout made me blubber like a baby who dropped her binky. Her words didn’t take away the weepy, but they did fill me with a deep sense of comfort and gratitude. It’s good to be reminded of how much I have to hold on to, and be grateful for.

But I’m still looking forward to longer days.

Still Snowing

The kids think they have found Paradise.

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They’ve had no school all week, and it’s looking like they WON’T have school for the rest of the week. And next week they’re off for the holidays.

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And now the forecast is saying this crazy Michigan-esque weather could continue until next Wednesday! (Also it just took me four tries to spell “Wednesday”. My brain is frozen maybe.)

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Thankfully we have lots of firewood, our power has held out, and we have lots of food and some drinking water just in case there is some kind of emergency. And–it’s STILL pretty.

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The Big Snow 2008

Normally we don’t get out big snow until after Christmas–apparently this is an early present. It started yesterday morning–when we were on our way to get our holiday tree. That greatly complicated our plans, and since I’ve had a cold, I stayed home and kept the fire burning. But the Hubster took the kids up the road to sled down the side of the dam. Look how pretty all the trees were.

The Hubster and the Drama Princess Sledding Down the Dam
The Hubster and the Drama Princess Sledding Down the Dam
The Mad Scientist
The Mad Scientist

This morning it was still cold (for our part of Oregon) and everything is frozen, covered in a few inches of rare snow. Of course the spawn are off school this morning–as soon as it was light the Drama Princess was bundled up and out the door. Can’t blame her . . .

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Sunrise
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That's the Moon Up There, All Tiny and White
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Snow on Monarda Seed Heads
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Snow on Hawthorn Berries