Friday, April 30, 2010

Spiritual Getaway

Update:  It's now Saturday afternoon around 2:45.  I got up at 6:45 this morning, ready to get rolling as soon as Ron picked up the kids this morning, but I started doing laundry while listening to music, and that led to cleaning my bathroom and vaccuuming the house and other cleaning.  Now my house feels pretty good, and it occurs to me that I haven't been able to just sit quietly and  read a book or even actually listen to music in my house without bickering and interruptions.  It's wonderful!  I'm going to stay home and enjoy the time alone here.  I may get up really early and spend the day out at Smith Rock tomorrow, instead - or maybe go hiking somewhere else.  I will get a hike in.  In any case, I'm really enjoying the freedom to do whatever I feel like doing!  Since I'm home, I called Scott and he's just finished his ride.   I've invited him over later to spend time with me in my home without kids.  What a treat for us!  Time together in Portland without kids.   :)

It's Friday evening and none too soon.  I've really been looking forward to this weekend over the last couple of days.  As I sit here after dinner sipping on a bit of tawny port, I am happily anticipating the next 48 hours, because I'm going to do something I've been craving. For the first time in a long while, I'm able to get away sans kids for more than a few hours, and I don't even need to hire a sitter!  Their dad has actually made plans to keep the kids overnight on Saturday.  They are so excited to have some time with him, and I'm thrilled at the prospect of taking Molly out to Smith Rock to hike and enjoy a night out under the stars.  She and I are going camping!

View of the Crooked River from Smith Rock in May, 2009

Scott's going on a 100 mile bike ride with his cycling friends this weekend, and I have no obligations otherwise, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to have some extended time and the joyful companionship of my sweet puppy all to myself!  I've felt a deep longing to get out and hike lately, but with Stella's softball games, Evan's t-ball games and other commitments, I've really not had an opportunity.  When Ron first mentioned that he might be taking the kids for the weekend, I had a glimmer of hope, but didn't want to get too excited.  But when I asked him on Wednesday if he still intended to take them, he said he would.  That's when that wonderful swell of anticipation started to grow.  I love watching my kids play sports, and I enjoy my time with my sweetheart, too, but I have always thrived best with regular doses of "me" time in nature.  It's my version of church, since it fills my spiritual cup.  This will be a delicious, much needed time away for me.

Molly after playing in the Crooked River, May 2009

It should be a really great time to photograph, too.  I spent a beautiful long day at Smith Rock last Spring and took lots of pictures with my phone's camera.  They were fun to post on Facebook for my family, but my camera now is a far superior tool.  I look forward to capturing some beautiful images of one of my very favorite places to share with my family and friends who live elsewhere outside of Oregon.  Also, my friend, Connor will be rock climbing with his girlfriend and some of their friends on both Saturday and Sunday and I plan on stopping by their hang-out to try and shoot that action, too.  Should be so much fun!  Here's a link to his blog post about a climbing trip to Smith Rock last year:  October at Smith Rock

Joy in a Special Place

More than anything, I look forward to sleeping in a tent and waking up to the sunrise in such a place.  I'm all tingly with anticipation!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Just a few pics from Stella's last softball game...* **

At bat, looking aggressive!

On first, looking to steal.

On third, thinking about stealing home...

She's inching closer!  (She does ultimately steal home, but I was cheering too loudly to take pics!)

Waiting patiently for her turn during warm up.  (Notice we accidentally grabbed the wrong jersey...)

I think this was during a warm up between innings.

Same here, but I like her form.

Playing third, her altnerate position.  (She usually plays shortstop this year, which she loves!)

*Click on photos to see larger. 
**They won 12-5!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

T-Ball is Wonderful!

Since Stella never played softball until last year, I'd never seen t-ball in action.  I was missing out!  Evan, who is 6, is playing t-ball this year and it is the cutest thing ever!  It is so funny to see all the kids run after a ball hit into the outfield - basemen and pitcher included!

Evan is very excited about the game, which I'm thrilled about, because he wasn't all that keen on soccer.  A slower pace and the opportunity to hit a ball with a bat seems to suit him perfectly.  His team are the Cardinals, and today they played the Mariners.  Here are some shots of today's big game, which almost got rained out! 

(Click on any pictures you'd like to see larger.)

It started to rain just as the game was to start, so there was a delay.

But it blew over eventually and things started. 
This is Evan warming up for his first at bat.

Nice hit!

Notice how while Evan is running to first, the entire opposing team
is chasing the ball into the outfield - so funny!

Evan made a great stop here at third base!

"Play's at first!"  He got to play first base, too.

Even Annie loves to get close to one of the "boys of Summer!"

Pizza at the Lucky Lab after the game.

Evan and his teammate and friend, Adam.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Revisiting Catherine Creek

Last October I was looking for a change of scene and some time away on my own.  My friend, Nick, let me camp out in his sailboat out in the Hood River Marina, and when I asked about good hiking areas nearby, he turned me on to Catherine Creek.  I fell in love at first sight. 
About 60 miles East of Portland, several trails leave a trailhead on the Washington side of the Columbia River on Old Hwy 14 between Bingen and Lyle, and head down into peaceful canyons, and up onto high plateaus and sweeping meadows, dotted with exposed basalt.  There are stunning views of the Columbia River, especially looking East toward The Dalles.  On a clear day Mt. Hood looms large on the Oregon side. 
In October, what really stood out to me was the Autumnal colors. There were oak leaves turning and golden grasses waving in the wind, parched from the heat of the previous Summer.  Burnt umber and gold were the starring colors, complimented by an ever changing tempestuous, but always partly blue sky. 
Here are a few pictures from my first trip out there (taken with the great little Olympus point and shoot I was given a couple of years ago):





After such a stunning visit in October, I was curious to know more about Catherine Creek, so I went online.  There I found that Catherine Creek is a mecca for wildflowers in Spring, and quite the destination for photographers and other flower lovers.  I have been waiting ever since for Spring to come so I could go back to lovely Catherine Creek and see her in her fresh Spring garb.  My sweetheart and I both needed a getaway this past weekend, so this was my chance!   
I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by how green everything was, but I sure was. I marveled at the complete change of color temperature from the previous Fall.  Green moss and green lichen, not yet even considering the respective orange and silver of their later season, grew vibrantly on rocks and old wood.  Green grass thrived, and fresh green leaves and buds sprouted from the oak trees. 
The supporting cast of fresh colors was pretty impressive, too.  The meadows were dotted with spots of yellow, pink and different shades of blue and purple from the many wildflowers growing there.  We saw Shooting Stars, Balsam Root, Blue Camas, Cluster Lilies and others.  Birdsong filled the air.  Everything was so new and pretty! 
I’ve included some of my favorite shots of the day:

Shooting Stars

Yellow Eyed Grass

Cute little fern-like plants growing from beneath basalt rocks

Shooting Stars beneath a lovely Oak and the beautiful sky!  Picnic anyone?

Mt. Hood

In new life and old death, the place was dramatic.

A “river” of Yellow Eyed Grass!

Catherine Creek

Pine Cone

Spot of sun highlighting some Yellow Eyed Grass

scott enjoying himself amongst some tufts of Desert Parsley.

Fresh, new leaves on the oak trees…

…and fresh, bright green grass beneath!

Bee and Balsam Root

Balsam Root and moss covered basalt

More Balsam Root

Desert Parsley – very pungent!

Pines and green grass in the meadow, dappled blue sky overhead.

My sweetheart scoping out his next shot, armed with a pretty cool filter and lots of know-how.

Some kids on top of the arch in the basalt.  I took this to show the scale.  See the light shining through the opening?

Little “baby” oak leaves coming out to see the sun!

Cluster Lilies, before they have truly “clustered”

A gorgeous day!!