Monday, October 28, 2013

Centennial, Scarecrows & Dayville, Oregon

I'd like to introduce you to a fun little town in the midst of our beautiful John Day Valley in Eastern Oregon, called Dayville.   It is one of four cities or towns which lies along US Route 26 in Grant County and is distinct in its western history and style. It is a town with a lot of heart and colorful locals where humor can abound.  One such display of humor is this sign, which welcomes you to Dayville as you approach from the west or the east side of Highway 26......

A few facts about Dayville:
-  It is the 17,583rd largest city in the United States as of 2012, according to the "Biggest US Cities" website. The locals will find humor in that since it has a population of 147 in the latest consensus statistics.
-  It lies 125 miles east of Bend and 233 miles from Portland, Oregon.  It also is located about 17 miles east of the Shoe Tree  that I wrote about in my post, "Highway 26, a Shoe Tree & Voyage".
-  Located 9 miles from the John Day Fossil Beds, it is the Eastern gate to this area and the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, which is full of ancient dinosaur history.
-  It was first a stage stop on a military road in the late 1800's and many old buildings remain today.

Dayville is currently hosting a Centennial, since the town was incorporated as a city in 1913.  As unique as the town is, they celebrate in exclusive style; one such being "The Scarecrow Contest" that is currently happening and a Kickoff for their Fall Festival.   Throughout the town, you are greeted with an unusual sight of a lineup of individual creations of scarecrows on poles or fences for this Harvest season.  Since the weather was beautiful and while all the scarecrows were still in tact, I grabbed my camera for a photo shoot and headed for Dayville. I was not disappointed at the array of scarecrow personalities stationed on both sides of the street in a whimsical fashion display.
"I'm just as cute"... signed, the cat!
In traditional country style, the Centennial Fall Kickoff also included a contest for homemade baked goods and a decorated pumpkin contest.  Along with a silent auction, potluck dinner and hayrides, they held a dance in their community hall.  These folks know how to do good ol' country fun.   

Another word for scarecrow is strawman.  There were plenty of strawmen (and even a few straw-women) on the street for all to admire. Children, teens, adults and community merchants enthusiastically created these "works of art" for all to enjoy - even to a headless horseman.  Since there was such a variety,  I complied them into a PhotoShow along with some Dayville scenery and buildings.  So, my dear readers, sit back and relax while you watch this fun video along with toe-tapping music by Janelle Donovan, called "Apple Tree". You can click on the icon for large located on the bottom photoshow bar for full screen of the video.  More detail in the photographs show up in the full screen view. 
You can also watch it at this link:

I found out that Dayville is also doing a '100 ACTS OF KINDNESS' in honor of their Centennial as a community effort.  Now what a great idea is that!  This noble endeavor, launched with their Fall Festival Kickoff, will be ongoing throughout July 4th, 2014.  There are many adjectives describing the word kind, but basically an act of kindness means to do good towards others.  This should be an action that we all demonstrate in our daily lives but for a town to celebrate kindness as a centennial banner is exceptional.  

A big  SALUTE  to Dayville!

Come, visit me again two weeks from now at the Turn-Up Patch on November 11...  see you then!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blessings and St. Francis of Assisi

Who was Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (nickname, "Francesco")?  Who was St. Francis of Assisi?  They are one and the same person who impacted Christianity in many ways.  A few facts out of many:
-  A mystic, Saint Francis had one basic rule:  "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in His footsteps". 
-  He believed that actions were the best example in telling his followers to "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words".
-  Born in Assisi, Italy in 1182 and died in 1226 at 44 years of age
-  A Catholic friar who founded the Franciscan Order characterized by a life of simplicity, poverty and love for the poor.
-  He set up the first known Nativity scene to celebrate Christmas in 1220
-  Stories abound of how St. Francis could communicate with animals and felt at one with all creation.  One such story bears repeating in this blog: 

St. Francis Preaches to the Birds:
Father Francis and his companions were making a trip through the Spoleto Valley near the town of Bevagna. Suddenly, Francis spotted a great number of birds of all varieties. There were doves, crows and all sorts of birds. Swept up in the moment, Francis left his friends in the road and ran after the birds, who patiently waited for him. He greeted them in his usual way, expecting them to scurry off into the air as he spoke. But they moved not. Filled with awe, he asked them if they would stay awhile and listen to the Word of God. He said to them: “My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.”
At this the birds began to spread their wings, stretch their necks and gaze at Francis, rejoicing and praising God in a wonderful way according to their nature. Francis then walked right through the middle of them, turned around and came back, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic.
Then he gave them his blessing, making the sign of the cross over them. At that they flew off and Francis, rejoicing and giving thanks to God, went on his way.
Later, Francis wondered aloud to his companions why he had never preached to birds before. And from that day on, Francis made it his habit to solicitously invoke all birds, all animals and reptiles to praise and love their Creator. And many times during Francis’ life there were remarkable events of Francis speaking to the animals. 

People of all faiths can appreciate St. Francis in his love of nature and of all the creatures that live on this planet with us.  Animal lovers can easily identify with his philosophy, as he expressed in these words:  "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."    In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, it is customary for some churches to hold ceremonies that include a blessing for animals on or near his feast day, which is October 4th.  Both young and old participate in this tradition that is over 200 years old.
" know me is to love me"
I have had the privilege of taking photos on several occasions of parishioners and guests who bring their beloved pets in thankfulness to God in celebration of love. I enjoy the moments of expressed sweet innocence and trust through the eyes of children and how their favorite pets respond in unconditional love.  Extension of family is evident from the two-legged to the four-legged critters as they wait their turn for a splash of holy water in blessing.  One little person even brought her pet crab for a blessing, which was tucked away in a special box she was holding.  You can imagine the surprise when she lifted the lid!  Yes, God's creatures come in all shapes and sizes!  

I put together the following PhotoShow for your enjoyment.  It begins with a bit of humor - some of you may have seen this message already regarding the billboard dispute about "all dogs go to heaven".  After this unique prelude, is my story through photographs aptly describing the title, 'Blessing of the Animals or Animals are a Blessing'My thanks to Father Julian Cassar,  for giving me the opportunity to capture such blessings in the visual medium of photography, where words cannot do justice.


You can also view at this link:

A few words about Fr. Julian.... he began his journey as a priest in Malta, which led to America to minister in churches in New York and on to Eastern Oregon in John Day and Baker City.   May God bless him abundantly as he moves on to his new assignment at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Bend, Oregon.  Also a gifted photographer, you can view some of his work on a July 15, 2013 post entitled "...and So God Made a Photographer (Part 1)".  With camera in tow, I'm sure he'll discover much beauty in the Central Oregon area to share.  I can think of no better way to send him off than in the peace prayer of St. Francis, so popular with people of all faiths and in which he personifies.  
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy. 
O Divine Master, 
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Join me in two weeks, October 28th, at The Turn-Up Patch.  See you then!