In the path of totality: 8.21.17

It was a much anticipated celestial event.  And it didn’t disappoint…

The Great American Eclipse of 2017.  Here in Oregon, the day dawned clear and warm – just the way that an August morning should.  Amid all the hype, we managed to find a special place to witness natures most beautiful sight.  Hubby and I hopped on the motorcycle at 7:30 am and rode into Woodburn. It was a perfect morning for a ride.  We skirted around the busy highways and stuck to country back roads.  We did run into a bit more traffic on the way home after 11, and gridlock continued into the evening hours on Oregon roads.  We spent the morning in the garden of a friend, among her family and friends.  We had snacks, and afterwards a scrambled egg breakfast.  And there was even a small wedding ceremony, under the waxing eclipse, to the surprise of our host (and mother of the groom) The story continues with the photos below:


There are times that a photo can’t tell the whole story.  This is one of those.  As we watched the glow of the sun being swallowed by the shadow of the moon the very air around us began to change.  The first thing we noticed was a change in air temperature.  It was a fine August morning, and the sun had begun to heat the air toward the eventual 90° temps we enjoyed that day.  But as the moon made it’s way across the sky, the air began to cool, and at totality there was definitely a chill in the air.

Did you know that light has a temperature too?  That also began to change as the shadow grew.  At first it was just a dimming of light.  At about the 50% point we began to hear the crickets calling, and noticed the bees sleeping on the flowers in the garden.  The quality of the light went from the usual warm white to a more golden, dimmer feel.  At almost total the light had an eerie blue-green quality – almost like we were under water, or looking through a screen of some kind. We were all watching the sun, but every once in a while someone would remind the group to look around at the garden.  We were amazed with each moment that passed.

And then the eclipse reached totality.

The sky had been getting darker and dimmer with each moment.  At the moment of the total eclipse the sun went from black to a pure, bright white light around a black hole in the sky.  Everyone exhaled with amazement at what we were witnessing.

Simply the most beautiful thing I have ever seen with my own eyes.

Nothing can prepare you for seeing such a sight, and the emotion that it invokes – we were IN the experience like you can’t be by looking at a photo.  The cool air on our skin, the glow of the sun on our face, the sound of the night insects and birds and shared expressions of awe. It was a complete body experience, and communion with each other and nature.   And one I can’t wait to have again.

Below are the humble photos I was able to take with my little SLR camera and special filter.  I hope you enjoy them, and feel just a bit of the awe that I did as I was pressing the shutter that morning.

(if you click on one photo a slideshow will appear to view the photos with)


Ponderings of a southpaw

August 13 is International Left Handers Day.  Just one day in the year … but in my world EVERY day is Left Handers Day.  Yup, I am one of the 10%.  Who do you know that is a lefty?  Are they creative?  That’s the rumor, you know.  We southpaws are more creative and smarter as a group.  Hmmm, okay.  I wonder if that is because we have had to overcome living in a Right Handed world?  You decide!

In my world, the following things are backwards to me, either because of the way they work, or because of the way they are intended to be used.


This chair is right handed.  In fact, most portable lawn chairs have the cup holder (if there is only one) on the right, or the shelf like this one.  In my life I have had right handed vacuum cleaners, irons, power tools, can openers, measuring cups, ice cream scoops, scissors, garden pruners, even a pair of right handed pants!  The vacuum was a Kirby – the bag was hung on the left of the handle so it hit me in the leg every time I pulled it towards me.


Scissors and pruners are a common complaint among us lefties.  I had to pay $90.00 to get a pair of left handed scissors to groom the pup. Yikes! Can openers are another one, though I confess that over the years I have just taught myself to use ours right handed.

I know you are wondering about the pants. As you know, I garden quite a bit.  I purchased a pair of work jeans with pockets and loops for my pruners and other garden tools.  I put them on, and was loading up my tools when I realized most of the pockets, and the best ones, were all ON THE RIGHT SIDE!! (or wrong side if you are a southpaw).

In the kitchen everyone takes for granted that most spoons and spatula’s are the same … but are they?

Out in the world we have had to adapt to many challenges, beginning with middle school.  Remember those desks with the writing table off to one side.  All righties.  Spiral notebooks?  Binding on the left side making writing awkward.   Going to a party, and want a nice glass of punch? The ladle has the pour spout made for the right hand – what a mess! (same problem with soup ladles too).

I already mentioned my right handed pants, but in reality anything with a zipper is right handed to me.  I have so much trouble with zippers, and I wondered why for so long. It’s because they aren’t made for me to use, duh!


How about your watch?  You wear it on the left side, right?  Well, if I do that it gets in the way of my writing hand.  So I put it on the right side, which makes the controls to the watch on the wrong side.  Grrrr.

And your computer mouse?  Easy, it’s on the right, where it’s supposed to be.  But that doesn’t work for me.

My mouse sits on the left of my keyboard, and the buttons are switched too.  Talk about confusing if we have to share!  Gamers have the same trouble, all the main buttons are set up for righties, too.


So I have gotten used to living in a backwards world, making due when I have to.  When I learned to crochet in grade school I put the hook in my right hand, and made it work.  (but I really don’t crochet like a rightie, even tho the hook is in that hand)

By now you would think that I had figured everything out – until I went shopping one day with Hubby to the local grocery store. I wanted some quinoa from the bulk bins.  And I made a huge mess, spilling it all over the floor. He was quite irritated. I could not figure out why I was having so much trouble.  The next time I went in, this time for some walnuts, I took a good look at the bins. I wish I had a photo to share with you, but the scoop is on the right side of the bin (with a 2 inch tether so I can’t walk off with it).  There is no way to scoop your product and get it into that flimsy bag with the scoop in your left hand reaching across. None. And I am NOT ambidextrous AT.ALL.  Now I put the baggie in the bin instead of holding it outside so anything that spills doesn’t go on the floor.


Being left handed has helped me in a few area’s.  As a driver, and a motorcycle rider, making left turns and maneuvering around in a parking lot seems to be easier for me.  I naturally look left first too, which may be safer when pulling into traffic.

So yes, in my world being in my right mind has made my life just a little bit more interesting than it may otherwise have been. Being the only one in my immediate and extended family to be a southpaw has been fun, really.  It gives me a different way to look at the world – and it’s that what it’s all about anyway – diversity and embracing our differences? Making things fun, and interesting, and easy for each other.


I will leave you with the following list of notable left-handers:  Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Bill Gates, Einstein, Jennifer Lawrence, Mahatma Gandhi, Marilyn Monroe, Prince Charles and Prince William, Paul Simon (but he plays guitar right handed), Paul McCartney, Ben Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Julia Roberts, Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Helen Keller.

U.S. Presidents:  Herbert Hoover (1874 – 1964), Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972), Gerald Ford (1913 – 2006), Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004),  George H.W. Bush (1924), Bill Clinton (1946) and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the United States Secretary of State (2009-2013). Barack Obama (1961).

Flag Day

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 in the United States. The date commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The flag was called the Flag Resolution of 1777 and was the first of many iterations of what would become the American flag we recognize today.

The following photos were taken out and about:  Dallas, Texas – Great Falls, Montana – Las Vegas, and Los Angeles and right around the corner in my little town of Canby.


Sightseeing in California

I recently packed my bags, loaded up the Pup and took a short road trip with Hubby in the Big Blue Truck. Destination: California! Our first stop was Sacramento to visit friends. We took a day trip to Amador Flower Farm and walked the daylily fields. And you know we filled the back of her car with plants to take home!

Heading south to Long Beach, Hubby and I went to see the Queen Mary, docked in the harbor. Christened in 1934 by Queen Mary herself, she has carried royality, WWII troops and war brides, presidents and heads of state, movie stars and celebrities across the Atlantic.  The RMS Queen Mary has been in her Longbeach berth since 1967, and used as a movie set for numerous movies including The Aviator, Pearl Harbor and Parent Trap 2.

Just down the road we found ourselves on board another ship, this one with a very different purpose. The battleship USS Iowa, the largest battleship in the US fleet. We were able to tour the ship from top to bottom. I even had the privilege of being able to see areas of the ship off the tour route to view several of the murals on the ships bulkhead. She served our country from 1939 – 1990, and carried the nicknames “The Big Stick” (1952), and “The Grey Ghost” (Korean War).


While these ships have very different missions, they also shared a common purpose. Both ships earned their keep in the service of their countries during the war:RMS Queen Mary carrying Winston Churchill on diplomatic missions – USS Iowa transported Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic for the same reason. From a bygone era to more modern times, their current roll telling their stories is priceless.

*S.  If you need me, I’ll be in the garden. 

To view photos individually click a photo to open the slideshow.

A rainy walk through the Cecil & Molly Smith Garden (of Rhododendrons)

Today it rained.  Not a big deal, really, if you live in Western Oregon.  The thing is, yesterday and the four days before were sunny an beautiful!  With nothing to do but play in the garden yesterday, I was looking forward to the monthly meeting with my HPSO study group.  (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon).  And naturally, the weather took a wet turn.

But we are a pretty hardy group, and a little rain will never stop us from coming together to enjoy a great garden, landscape, nursery or lunch spot!  So this morning we met underneath dripping leaves, holding umbrellas, to walk through a little gem of a garden in St. Paul, Oregon. Cecil & Molly Smith Garden is planted under a canopy of native Douglas firs.  The many pathways take you on a tour of wooded views featuring the over 600 rhododendrons and azaleas.  Under-planted with myriad woodland species – there is something beautiful to see at every turn.

From the entrance we walked under towering trees, around corners to hillsides planted with ferns, false Solomon’s seal, bleeding hearts, hellebore’s, trillium, and even Jack-in-the-pulpit (arisaema triphyllum).  We admired the new foliage on these amazing plants, oohh’d and ahhh’d over blooms ranging in size from a thimble to the size of a teacup.  We even spotted a lovely banana slug, which was duly admired by myself and a Master Gardener friend that specializes in educating the public on slugs and snails.

It was a beautiful day – even with the rain.  In fact, I would have to say that the rain enhanced the beauty of the grounds and the foliage in the forest.

Enjoy the photos – to view the photos in a slideshow format simply click on the first photo and go from there.

*S.   If you need me, I will be in the garden

Two Oregon Tourists in Florence: The Basilica of San Croce

On our first day in Florence we set out on our adventure. I wanted to see and learn something about this historic city we had come to visit. 

And I have a confession to make here, I first learned about the Basilica of San Croce from the movie ‘A Room with a View’.  The heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, sets out to explore the city like we did, and finds herself at the Basilica San Croce. The movie doesn’t reveal much, but I knew I wanted to see it for myself. 

San Croce was commissioned to be built in 1294, and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. The nave (worship area) is covered with delicate and intricate artwork telling stories of  faith. Lined with alcoves, some are marked for prayer with candles – each has a separate story. The grand altar at the front if the church commands attention with the colorful frescos painted on the walls. The floors have many intricately decorated tombs. Some are so worn after centuries of worship the words and figures barely recognizable. The room is quite impressive with its size and all there is to see.

Passing through a chamber leading out of the main sactuary we saw these renderings of The Madonna and baby. The simplicity of the images is quite moving. 

The above series of photos was taken in the Medici Chapel of the novices, reserved for the novice monks. The paintings were created on such a grand scale! With life-like detail and rich colors they almost look three dimensional.  Its awe inspiring to think of the materials and processes the artists worked with in the 13th century to create such works. 

The hallmark of early churches and cathedrals is the beautiful stained glass and frescos that adorn the walls and ceilings. This display of these pieces allowed you to see the detail up close.  I was again struck by the rich colors and texture of the artwork, and the materials used to create them. 

This next series of photos tells a different story, not about the art, or the city, but of the men that created it. 

On the opposite side of the altar the massive room holds tributes to several great men. It was this section of the church that moved me the most. 

Galileo’s tomb, and a beautiful tribute to the man and his work. 

Dante’s cenotaph. Philosopher and son of Florence, he was exiled during the Inquisition and buried elsewhere. 

The most impressive of the tombs is Michelangelo’s, as you can see.

I feel awed to have had the opportunity to visit this beautiful place. The stories told here are so familar and told so often, but I don’t tire of the images and all the different mediums the artists use to tell the story. 

Two Oregon tourists in Florence, Italy

It was a week ago that T* and I flew out of our little corner of the world, looking for some new views, & to make some memories.And so far we have done both!


But I must say, this tourist gig is darn hard work! Between getting to our transportation on time (after figuring out how it works, that is), seeing the sites, then keeping up with all the photos we are taking to share with you all I am exhausted! But every night I fall asleep with a smile on my face, because we are in Italy!

And you can follow along on our visit. Enjoy the photos, and the story.

Our Florence adventure began when we opened the door to the B & B where we spent 3 nights. The house was built in the 1300’s. Holy wow! And the street it was located on is the oldest in the city.


Florence is built alongside the peaceful Arno river. The famous Ponte Vecchio spans the river, with it its shops and throngs of tourists. Our room was a block away from the river, and we found ourselves crossing the bridges countless times during our stay. We watched the sunset, found the famous Love Locks and even watched fireworks with the crowd.









There was so much to see in the many piazzas – modern art, centuries old churches with their classic domes and towers, a carousel, and so much people watching! Each hour the city walls echo with the music of the church bells tolling, and at night the historic buildings are bathed in light. We heard street music ranging from solo guitar players to an acapala mens group and symphony music. Chalk artists spend hours re-creating masterpieces on the ancient brick sidewalks, only to wash them away at the end of the night.










We spotted graffiti in many places. Of course there was the usual writing on the walls. Florence is home to a French graffiti artist called Clet. We spotted his work and enjoyed his sense of humor, no translation needed.




The views are classic, the buildings timeless. Even everyday views seem special in the jewel light of Florence.




On our first day we visited the Basilica of San Croce. It was breathtaking. Here are a few teaser pics. I have much to say about our time there, so I will devote another post to our visit.