Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Time To Give Thanks

With Thanksgiving only hours away, the idea of how to give thanks has been knocking around in my head. Pamela, at The Dust Will Wait , made an outstanding list of reasons for which she is thankful.

I especially liked the following quote: "What if God decided to take away the things you forgot to thank him for? I sit here and gaze a 360 around the room and see so many blessings."

Pamela's words have provided me with a real jump start.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Calm Before The Storm

The past couple of weeks has seen just about every type of "ugly weather" November has to offer the north coast of Oregon. To say that it's been wet would be an understatement. I was however a bit taken back to learn that my rain gauge has measured just over fifteen inches of precipitation during the month. Yikes, now wonder the basement sump pumps where doing their magic last Tuesday!

Sunday afternoon we had a brief respite from the storms so I took a quick trip to my favorite part of the beach. The light that preceded the storm was sweet; within two minutes of clicking the shutter I was jogging back to the truck in a cold driving rain. It was fun while it lasted!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Great Disturbance In The Force

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master

Recently, I have been gathering once a month with group of friends and former colleagues for an informal lunch. The gathering was the brain child of our former administrative assistance; when she proposed the idea a few years ago before retiring, I was at best sceptical. I assumed that after thirty years of near daily interaction with many of these folks, perhaps my appetite for additional social interaction would be more nonexistent upon retirement. To my surprise, I anxiously await each month's gathering.

As you might expect, the luncheon provides ampule opportunities for everyone to share the latest on grand children, recent adventures, and the current status of their aliments. The time together also offers opportunities to reminisce about the "good old days at work"; in my opinion some of my friends have way too much regard for the past.

Since the majority of my colleagues were foresters, the annual hunt for deer and elk has always been a big part of their lives. I use to joke that for our engineering staff in particular, there were only three seasons in a year. If it was not hunting season, then it was either pre-hunting or post-hunting season. During the pre-hunt season, conversations focused on the endless details of the impending hunt. As you might expect, post-hunting talk centered on the most recent kill or the multitude of reasons as to why the "big one" got away.

During Thursday's lunch, I asked one of the former engineers about his recent deer hunting expedition. His response sent Obi-Wan's words screaming in the depths of my brain. He told me that he doesn't actually care all that much about hunting any more. He explained that his eye sight and hearing are not what they once were and crawling in the brush just makes his body hurt. For him now, hunting has become a time to go camping with a few friends and to leave the hunting and shooting to someone else. I wonder what disturbance in the force will be detected at next month's luncheon?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A River, One Log, and Leverage

At one time, Astoria was known as the salmon canning capital of the world and the city was home to countless canneries over the river on wooded pilings. Today, few of the original structures remain and if they do, they are mostly remnants of the once great buildings.

The first image is of the floor of a long forgotten cannery taken on a sunny day in December of 2008. At this point in time, the remaining structure was disconnected from the shore and served primarily as a landing zone for tossed rocks. Surprisingly, given it's age, the majority of the wood is in very good condition.

The second image was taken in April of 2009 following several winter storms. During one of the storms, a large log floated down river and became lodged between the pilings. As you might expect, the water level of the river rises during the winter months so the log acted as a demolition battering ram.

During a recent walk I noticed that the log is still wedged between the pilings. I wonder how much of the structure will remain in April of 2010?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Look Up, Look Down, Look Around

As a forester and wild land fire fighter, I was well versed in the near endless training programs designed to increase fire fighter safety. In my opinion, one of the best was titled Look Up, Look Down, Look Around. Its goal was to get the fire fighter to stop and take a minute to size up his environment, access the hazards, then to find way to manage the risks. In a fire situation, the thing that might injure or kill you is not the fire burning directly in front of you. Often far greater danger exist in the tops of trees burning above your head or from objects that might roll down the hill and hit you. In order to make it to another day, you need to always keep looking. I have attempted to use the same principle when out making photographs; just keep looking because the best image is often not in front of you.

The first Sunday in November was a very nice day in Astoria, weather wise, so I make a late afternoon trip to the beach. My original goal was to find a new location to catch the sun set but I began my journey a little too late in the afternoon. By the time I arrived, sun had disappeared into the clouds and from my location it was impossible to find an unobstructed view. At this point I decided to bag it for the day and head home when I looked over my shoulder and noticed the light reflecting off of the south jetty viewing platform. The platform was crowded with people who had come to catch the sunset and perhaps grab a quick picture. In the end, the multitudes departed the viewing platform with pretty much the same image. Despite the fact that I was in a less traditional location for photographing the setting sun, hopefully my image captures a bit more of the spirit and beauty of the evening.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

Last November, my wife and I traveled to Washington, DC for a week of exploration. One of the joys for me was our visit to the World War II Memorial which is located on the mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. Even by the standards of Washington, DC memorials, it's huge! My photo only shows one side, I am not sure that you could get the entire monument in one photo without resorting to stitching.

My dad was a veteran of WWII but he seldom mentioned his time in the service. If my memory is correct, I remember him making only two off-handed comments that revealed little of that part of his life. To this day, I still wonder why.

Several years ago, I created a page on the World War II Registry in an attempt to honor his contribution to the war effort. If you would like to honor someone or spend a little time browsing, the National WWII Memorial's web site can be found here.

Tomorrow we will once again celebrate Veteran's Day with parades, prayers, and quiet contemplation. If you happen to see a Veteran, take a moment and thank them for their service.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One Angry Sky

I was returning from a photographic outing to the beach late Friday when I spotted the above scene. The skies were quickly turning angry as a storm cell approach the coast of Washington. I was intrigued by light; the distant hills appeared nearly black despite light filtering through the advancing clouds.

Given the conditions, I knew that the scene would not last long so my challenge was to find a vantage point free of obstructions. Within several seconds of making the image, the sky was lit by lighting which was immediately followed by a deafening clap of thunder. Within thirty seconds of the thunder, the entire coast line was shrouded by the clouds.

It suddenly occurred to me how close I was to the storm and at the moment, I was the highest point in the immediate vicinity. This is clearly something to avoid being during a thunder storm!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dawn On Halloween Morning

During the twilight hours of Halloween, I made a visit to the city's cemetery. It's not a place I normally frequent but it provides access to one of my favorite wetlands. My original plan was to see how the waters would appear in the early morning light but instead I spotted this "spooky" scene and just could not resist!

It may not have been the best image from this outing but it definitely was the most laughable.