Friday, May 7, 2010

A low ha!

This is clearly not Bend, Oregon. If people carry the soul of a particular animal then I am a hummingbird, a restless creature that can not sit still. Consequently I felt the need to flit off and fortunately Tapirgal was eager to spend a few days in Maui to celebrate her birthday, so off we flew. Exhausted, but happy after the 6 hour flight, we found our way along a busy winding island road to the condo I had booked hastily.

The above photo taken from the patio depicts the soothing atmosphere of tranquility which is so characteristic of Hawaii. I am not sure I can ever get my wings to stop beating so rapidly or slow my heart rate down. I am what I am. In the meantime I hope to relax, take some pictures and experience the ease in the breeze. We'll see. A turtle I'm not.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sugaree, Baby

This morning I stopped at the Backporch Coffee Shop in Bend, Oregon, as part of my commitment to break my morning Starbucks habit. As I ordered my java I spied the pastries pictured above in the glass case below the cash register. Most fascinating, sitting alongside some highly unusual donuts were three glazed maple bars topped with strips of bacon.

For those of you that enjoy a sugar high, I have included the upper third of a pile of one of mountains of sugar I photographed at the Fromme Sugarcane Plant storage building last month in Jamaica. Not to spoil the sweetness of your day, I have included a few statistics I found about sugar consumption from Wikipedia. The average American consumes between 3 and 5 pounds of added sugar a week, meaning up to 200+ pounds of added sugar a year per person.

Now I am not going to harangue about the despicable amount of calories or fat or carbs or sugar there is in most diets, since this is the fodder of much New Age conversation. I also have seen how sugar cane production has been terrible in so many ways for underdeveloped countries in the Carribean and South America, but that is a subject for another time. I just feel letting pictures today whet your appetite for some serious consideration.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Mighty, Big Bird!

A few weeks ago while visiting the Navajo Nation, my host took me to see the dinosaur tracks near Tuba City, Arizona. I had been skeptical from the moment I saw the sign that I was about to bilked out of a few dollars in order to see some carnival attraction made out of plastic.
A dirt road off the main highway took me to a few stands where Navajos were selling jewelry.

There I was greeted by a boy who offered to take me into the desert and who immediately began pointing out the many large bird-like tracks encased in the mud. He told me they were from a dilophosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur the size of a horse. There were also larger tracks than the ones pictured above, plus skeletons, petrified eggs, scat, and allegedly the remains of a tyranosaurus claw. It then was not hard to imagine the wet fertile green swamp that once was home to these creatures that roamed 200 million years ago during the Jurassic Period.

To me, these imprints were like ancient starlight shining brightly still from a once living source that had burnt out many years before. In that quiet desert setting, the presence of the footprints of these long vanished animals evoked such a genuine, authentic quality, much stronger for me than reconstructed bones in a museum. The dinosaurs were real and they walked here. Naturally, I suddenly scanned the horizon hoping to still catch a glimpse of one that might have been left over. You never know!

To think there are people who don't recognize that these creatures existed at all and cling to biblical interpretations of creation or who believe God put these tracks in the ground like artwork to confuse humans. So much for having advanced beyond the Age of Dinosaurs!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It has been over a week since I returned to Bend, Oregon, after completing my Amizade adventure. A few of you have written and wondered why I hadn't posted and were concerned about my well-being.

I have to admit it has been emotionally difficult to adjust to "normal"life, which is devoid of novelty and excitement which characterized the last four months. Also I find myself now strangely reticent and reluctant to express to others my Amizade experiences, which, predictably, seem to now be slowly enveloped in a mental fog as time elapses. What I have learned now feels strangely personal and is not easily translated. Of course I have lots of photos that will help remind me of the trip. I will eventually find a language to share these pictures so that they may inspire others to learn, serve and understand. That is for later. In any event I have decided to post in order to return to a positive activity and which may help me through what has been called by some a "transitional period".

The first photo of the shut metal gate at the home where I stayed in Jamaica serves as the closing picture of my adventure. Standing behind it is Ms. Dorothy, who represents a different race, national origin, generation, and culture and serves for me today as an archetype for the many people I met. She knew I was an unusual guest and tolerated my rants. She listened to my words and showed me great kindness and seemed to have remarkable understanding although she was of humble background and had never been off the island. Today I must declare my trip is over and the door is closed. I have lots of photos and memories to carry me from that time into the future.

The second photo taken at the Rose Garden in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, of a raven cawing at me, even when I snapped it, felt strangely ominous. Influenced of course from my recent experiences at the Navajo Nation where there is a strong belief in the messages from animals, it put me in touch with a deep feeling of alienation and disorientation although I was now within the fabric of my own kind. After having been out wandering all over the world, now, at home, I felt more lost.

I chose the third photo of a soon to open rhododendron bud as a positive expression that, like it, I am eager to blossom in some new refreshing way. Today I am swaying quietly in the wind, so to speak, but I am eagerly open for a new challenge. I have no idea how it will relate to where I've just been physically or spiritually or when I will find it. I hope ardently to feel again the exhilaration of bursting growth. That's all I ask.

I intend to change the title of this blog to Lee's Daily Adventure and post pictures of wherever I am, including Bend, Oregon. You will be able to find me right here without changing the url. I hope you'll stay with me and keep in touch via e-mail and comments.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell from the summit

The street sign says it all. This is my last post on Bend, Oregon, Daily Photo until my return on April 17th, 2010. Tapirgal of Astoria Daily Photo encouraged me to smile and to invite all of you to follow me on my new blog, Lee's Amizade Adventure. My flight from Portland, Oregon, on Sunday morning, January 3rd has a long layover in Miami, during which I intend to post my first impressions of the trip before departing for Brazil. Until then, have a blissful, photo-filled Happy New Year and thanks as always for your kind words and support.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting Ready

On a cool, sunny afternoon several weeks ago in Bend, Oregon, I hiked along this quiet trail near Shevlin Park, and reflected on my upcoming volunteer Amizade adventure. Although I have no recollection of any of the particular thoughts I had as I ascended this slight grade, I have no problem sharing that little else has dominated my thoughts over the past months than the details and personal ramifications of this journey.

In less than one week from today, I will start the first leg of a four-month trip which will take me to five different continents, where I will necessarily and directly be immersed in the complexities of vastly different cultures. I have already mentioned that, on the surface, my role is to work as a volunteer on widely diverse humanitarian projects, photograph and write about them and provide useful information for future volunteers. To express this goal in words is easy, but to actually lay the groundwork to pull it off is a stress-filled challenge. The travel preparations, including transportation and lodging, have been daunting. Likewise, it has been no easy task to settle affairs at home to accommodate a protracted absence. There have been challenges predicated by my choice to travel light with only a backpack and a carry-on as to choice of clothing and equipment. Notwithstanding, I have had to consider health issues and have undergone lots of tests, some of which have increased my level of anxiety rather than mollifying me. Last of all, I have had to struggle with an internal battle concerning my separation from loved ones and the effect it will have on my relationship with them. I rationalize that in the scheme of things this trip is only for a short time, and that I'll be back soon, but the reality is that the perils I am about to encounter are numerous and that, as it is often wryly thought at these moments, you never know the last time you say good-bye.

In any case, on Sunday, January 3rd, I leave first for Brazil, with a layover in Rio de Janeiro before heading to the Amazon river town of Santarem. I am excited to share my adventure with you. Yet this blog is so much more than a daily post of pretty pictures and words. It is a lifeline to the world to which I belong. It is a conduit to the people I love. Without it, I am simply alone, the proverbial rolling stone tossed by fickle current down to the sea.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

along the trail

Although there is no snow on the ground today in Bend, Oregon, it takes only a short drive West toward the mountains to find a Winter paradise. On this forest trail, closed to cars for the season, the public can spend carefree hours walking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. There are those of you who follow this blog who see nothing glamorous in having cold toes, ears and nose, and who also define good exercise as rolling from back to stomach on a chaise lounge under a gentle tropical sun. To you, outdoor cold weather activities probably has little appeal. Such ventures are not for everybody. Notwithstanding, in the above picture, the hardy gang decked out in fleece and gortex, march forward joyously and rhythmically, December's snowsong drummed by their boots. As they pass, they acknowledge intuitively that the camera-toting stranger in similar uniform is an ally, and like themselves, a lover of movement in the iced-white world of Winter. I hear their footsteps recede in the distance and by their dissipating presence, I feel strangely warmed.