Monday, August 31, 2015

"We Are Still Standing!"

August has been an eventful month... first the fair and then the fire!  The fire began on August 12, exploded on the 14th and fire crews have been battling this monster ever since.  At this writing, there have been 101,465 acres burned.  Weather wind conditions take the flames where they may and it is ongoing.  Below is a photo that I took of Canyon Mountain a few years ago towards the end of the winter season.  The mountain is blanketed in cool snow and bathed with sunlit clouds.  Recent photos show a different Canyon Mountain blanketed in smoke as timber trees and underbrush give way to flames licking up it's defining ridges.

The photos below shows smoke plumbs and clouds, which are the dramatic effect of a fire that is having its way in forested areas, dry and neglected through regulation and environmentalist stronghold - a perfect storm when introduced to the dry weather pattern in the Pacific Northwest.

Many lost their homes who lived in the Canyon Creek area lying at the base of the mountain on a road that winds down into Canyon City and John Day.  At this moment in time, 41 homes were burned - a tremendous loss in a small populated area... 39 to the Canyon Creek fire and 2 near Prairie City.  The fire has extended itself into the Strawberry Mountain area and with wind complications has advanced close to the community of Prairie City with a population of around 900 people.   Evacuation notices are in effect because of the fire danger. The firefighters are battling to save the town at this writing.

The John Day Valley has town communities of Dayville, Mt. Vernon, John Day with Canyon City and Prairie City.  They are situated from west to east on Highway 26, spanning a distance of about 44 miles.   When one community is affected by such a catastrophic fire, it affects them all.  The communities have come together in a team spirit where there is no dividing lines - there is but one goal and one purpose and that is to come to the aid of the hurting, to those who have suffered loss and to support the firefighters on the front linesResponsive caring has reached beyond the highway 26 boundary of the John Day Valley into the north, south, east and west of Oregon.  Truckloads of supplies from businesses and individuals across Oregon have come to help in donating what they can to assist in the loss of this devastating fire.  The American Red Cross has been here since the beginning.  Residents are amazed by the outpouring of assistance by others.  Much gratitude is extended towards the firefighters who courageously, in heart and mind, dangerously labor to stay back the fire to save lives and property.  We hear so much about the bad in the world - it is heartfelt to see the goodness in people who far outweigh the bad in such demonstrations of compassion, generosity, and courage in the extension of good will.

With permission of a friend of mine, Jina Carniglia, I present her photo along with her quote, which exemplifies the spirit of the people of Grant County.... 

"Two weeks ago today our lives and our county were forever changed.  The hole in our hearts may never go away, but it is being patched by the love and support of a community that is resilient, strong and amazingly tough!  We may be sooty, dirty, and tired, but we are still standing!!!"

The following photo speaks a thousand words....  in essence, no matter what the circumstances in our life brings in charred loss, life can spring anew in God's message of hope.  My thanks to Vickie Bly who brought this photo to my attention.

This is a continuing story and my hope is that by the time my next post rolls around on Monday, September 14,  I'll have some good news to report about the containment of the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

These are just a few of various news links about the currently active 2 week fire:

Here is a video put together by Audra Clark entitled "Canyon Creek Complex 2015"

Video Link:

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Fair is an Affair

A celebration happened last week and that was the 106th Grant County Fair & Rodeo.  It is now the longest-running annual county fair in the State of Oregon held annually in August.  The fair comes complete with lots of entertainment for all ages - carnival rides, music, contests and events, livestock exhibits, vendors, a rodeo and of course, socializing with other fair attendees.  In a small community, that is pretty easy to do as you usually meet someone you know.   Children are always a delight to watch as they express themselves in fun.  I was able to take few photos of several children who were excited over their face paintings, artistically drawn in facial expression.

There are plenty of behind the scene activities at the County Fair, one being 4-H.  A short lesson on what 4-H stands for..... Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.  The colors are green and white - green stands for growing, living things and white for purity and cleanliness.
The 4-H Pledge is: my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world. The 4-H motto: "To Make the Best Better"... The 4-H Slogan: "Learn by Doing".  
4-H is for boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 18, which is designed to develop and mentor youth through a variety of clubs, camps and programs.  One such program focuses on livestock animals, which includes sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, horses.... even to chickens and rabbits.  Youth involved in the 4-H program spend a great deal of their summer in taming, training, grooming and looking after their animal in preparation for competition for showmanship and quality of their animal.
The animals are usually sold at auction at the end of the fair, the climatic ending of a summer of hard work and responsibility for the final outcome of the worth of their animal.  Below are a few photos of some of the animals exhibited at the fair.  I captured a few in a comedic pose -  baby rabbits curled up in a feed pan - a pig eating that last bit of grain - goats have big ears! - a sheep who wanted out - cute  miniature horses with eye hiding forelocks.  These are just some of the 4-H animals and a few on exhibit for viewing pleasure.

There are some stories behind fair events - the scene of sadness and tears for some youngsters when it is time to let go of their animal for auction.  Mixed emotions are evident since they reap the reward for all their hard work in a monetary way as their animal goes to the highest bidder.  For some, heartstrings are attached but nonetheless, they prepare themselves to go through this same process for another year.

Which brings me to another story behind the rodeo scene.  The below photos show a horse and rider who carried the flag as part of the traditional 'grand entry' before rodeo action begins.  As horse and rider move throughout the arena, it gives a sense of pride and patriotism to have the flag displayed in this manner.  It was especially moving when you know that the rider is paralyzed from the waist down. If you look close enough in the picture, you will see a brace that stabilized him to the horse.  His determination and grit is apparent in riding horseback in the privilege of carrying the American flag.  Way to go Alec!

The theme for this year's Grant County Fair & Rodeo days was "Blue Jeans & County Dreams".  An affair indeed!... a love of community and tradition for folks of all ages to enjoy and onward to the 107th in 2016.   

Let's visit again at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, August 31....  Until then, God bless us all in the freedoms we enjoy and not take them for granted,  even a county fair.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Stargazer and Blue Moon

This past week, some friends gave me a beautiful flower out of their garden.  I was introduced to the Stargazer Lily.  It is beautiful to look at and the aroma fills the air with its fragrance.  To put the lily on display, I felt it needed a special vase and what better than a wine glass for a unique photo.  It also motivated me to find out more about this flower.

It is a combination of the Oriental and Asiatic lilies and the result is the best of both worlds in this exotic hybrid.  Leslie Woodruff, an American lily grower and breeder, introduced this creation - the stargazer lily in 1978.  He named it "stargazer" because of the way the blooms of this lily point toward the sky.  The stargazer lily can also be called heaven scent for its fragrance. 

It is a symbol of perfection, high hopes, optimism and limitless possibilities.  It also represents prosperity and abundance, conveying a message of honor.  It can symbolize the fulfillment of a dream.  It is an exquisite flower with positive meanings in the mystical ideas of symbolism.  But there is one thing that is in its disfavor - the stargazer lily is toxic to cats!  Beware and don't let your feline friends try a taste of this lily......

As we lift our eyes from the stargazer lily and look heavenward, a rare event occurred in July - two full moons in the same month.  On July 31, we were treated to a blue moon.  Of course I was out with my camera trying to get a good shot of a so called blue moon.  Disappointed, I saw that it was the ordinary standard moon color.  Of course I rushed to google to find out why the moon wasn't blue.  Google sources stated that when a moon does take on a bluish hue, it is because of smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere.  Since there are no raging wildfires happening in our area right now... thank God!... I won't be able to test out that theory of a blue hued moon.  I took the below photos at different times - late night and early morning shots, looking for any change in color.  As you can tell there is not much difference except the early morning has a lighter tone to it. Also the pock marks of the moon are a little different in position as the moon orbited the earth from the Eastern to the Western horizons when I took these shots.  And yes, the expression of "once in a blue moon" means a rare event.
July 31, 2015 around 10:30 p.m.

August 1, 2015 around 3:30 a.m.

I close this post with a few photos a little closer to earth!  These were taken on Highway 26 between John Day and Prairie City.   A horticulture business cleverly put together an old truck loaded with flowers and a fake figure waving to ongoing traffic.  It does catch your attention in advertising their nursery.  A wagon behind the truck was overflowing with color produced by gorgeous blossoms.  It's quite a sight and makes you want to stop and take a closer look for a photo or consider purchasing a few of their variety of plants, flowers or trees.

Here is a quote by Jim Lovell (former astronaut) to ponder on:  "The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence.  You look back at Earth from the moon, and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb.  Everything you've ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy."

Whether it be a stargazer lily, a blue moon, galaxies, earth or summer blossoms, God is all in all!

Let's meet again at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, August 17.   Until then enjoy these August days and experience special moments along the way....

With its exotic good looks and heavenly fragrance, Stargazer makes a real showing in the garden… or in a vase. Huge, 6–7" flowers appear in abundance and turn their gorgeous faces to the sky. Their brilliant pink petals are liberally freckled with dark pink and feature snowy-white edging.

With their breathtaking beauty and sweet perfume, - See more at:
With its exotic good looks and heavenly fragrance, Stargazer makes a real showing in the garden… or in a vase. Huge, 6–7" flowers appear in abundance and turn their gorgeous faces to the sky. Their brilliant pink petals are liberally freckled with dark pink and feature snowy-white edging.

With their breathtaking beauty and sweet perfume, - See more at:
With its exotic good looks and heavenly fragrance, Stargazer makes a real showing in the garden… or in a vase. Huge, 6–7" flowers appear in abundance and turn their gorgeous faces to the sky. Their brilliant pink petals are liberally freckled with dark pink and feature snowy-white edging.

With their breathtaking beauty and sweet perfume - See more at: