Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

I was really looking forward to Thanksgiving.  With Cody now living close by, both my kids would be home!  This would be the first time in many years we'd have the family together at home for the holiday.

The turkey is stuffed and ready to roast

The day began with me getting up in the early morning hours to run a turkey trot at the zoo.  It was a cold day (20 degrees!) so I bundled up.  The course was the same as last year's race - we ran down a big hill, and then turned around and ran back up it.  Going up the hill was a great body-warmer.  It also felt good to burn some calories in preparation for the big meal.

Time to put this bird in the oven!
After the race, it was time to start cooking.  Cody baked a bunch of pies the night before, but saved one apple pie to bake that morning.  Once the apple pie was out of the oven, the turkey went in.  Once the turkey was done, it was time to bake sweet potatoes, green been casserole and dinner rolls.  My oven was busy for many hours.

Cody and Roger prepare the fruit salad
The meal was a family effort.  Roger peeled and cut up potatoes for his famous mashed potatoes.  Denise made the green been casserole.  I prepped the turkey and stuffing.  Roger and Cody put together a fruit salad.

Cody, our master pie-maker

When you're cooking so many items, it's hard to time things so that everything is done at once.  We had to wait forever for the sweet potatoes to finish baking.  Luckily, the other food stayed warm (especially the turkey!)

Cody's fellow seminarians joined us for dinner

Cody invited some of the men from his seminary to join us for dinner.  We had four Montanans travel from Mt. Angel to be our guests.  The years Cody spent Thanksgiving in Missoula by himself, he always had friends who invited him to dinner.  I wanted to return the favor by providing Thanksgiving to someone who wasn't able to be home for the holiday.

Thanksgiving photo of my kids

The seminarians were all very intelligent, interesting men.  They were also so nice and polite!  It was really fun to have them as guests for Thanksgiving.  And when it came time to say the grace, we were well covered.

Gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner

Dinner was wonderful.  We gathered around the table, ate lots of turkey, and enjoyed hearing seminary stories from our guests.  After dinner, we had our choice of three different pies for dessert.  Cody's apple pie was the overwhelming favorite. 

Cody's seminary brothers had fun playing with Bear.  And I know Bear loved the extra attention.  When our guests got ready to leave, one of the men remarked that Bear would fit right in at the seminary - he was the proper color!

I get in on the dinner action too!

Thanksgiving 2010 was a wonderful day.  It's nice to have a holiday to stop and take note of all the great things we have that are always taken for granted.

I'm thankful for the health of myself and my family.  I'm thankful that Roger and I both have jobs.  I'm grateful we have a home and can afford to send our kids to college.  And I'm thankful for my two wonderful children who are studying hard to someday make a difference in this world. 

It's easy to get caught up in life's petty day-to-day problems and forget how good we really have it.  A day of thanksgiving makes you appreciate the things in life that really matter.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beaver Redemption

It's never a good thing to be the team that plays an opponent the week after said opponent suffers a disastrous loss.  Pity the USC Trojans!  Not only did the Trojans have this going against them, USC also has not won the last three times they've played the Beavers in Reser Stadium.  Most famously, in 2008, the Beavs beat then-No. 1 USC at home in Reser, a giant upset.

Roger and I are bundled up for the game
With that in mind, Saturday night's football game vs USC promised to be exciting.  I again traveled to Corvallis for our 3rd of three games in the ticket series.  The weatherman forecasted cold temps (but thankfully no rain!) so Roger and I bundled up before we headed to the stadium.

The OSU band waits for the team to take the field
Denise's ticket was in the student section again.  All of her friends were busy that night, so she was sitting by herself.  We promised to let her know of any empty seats near us, hopeful she could join us at halftime.

Football action near the end zone
After last week's blowout loss to WSU, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was afraid the Beavs would give a repeat performance.  But when the team took to the field, they had their game faces on.  A couple of plays later, I could tell we had our old team back.  The Beavs scored a field goal, turned an interception into a touchdown, and  scored one more touchdown before the end of the second quarter.  The score was 17-0 when the band took the field for the halftime show.

The band's halftime show
As a former band mom, I love to watch marching bands perform.  The OSU band came out and entertained us with some lively music and interesting marching drill.  Then the band stood in place and played a portion of the "1812 Overture." The music was quiet, the band didn't move, and I commented to Roger that this wasn't much of a college halftime performance.  It was kind of boring.

The band played "The 1812 Overture," complete with fireworks!
Oh, but the band had a couple of tricks up its sleeve!  All of a sudden a loud BOOM erupted from two cannons.  That woke up the crowd!  Then fireworks began to soar skyward, bursting into glittering light.  What began as a quiet, sleepy performance finished as a loud, crowd-pleasing show.

Denise joined us after halftime
We ended up with empty seats on either side, so we texted Denise and invited her to sit with us.  Denise found us at the beginning of the third quarter.  So our family ended up together after all!

Family self portrait, courtesy of Denise
The second half of the game was just as exciting.  There were more touchdowns, a field goal, a bad call, (against the Beavs) and a USC score.  The crowd was really into the game. Their enthusiasm was contagious.  It's much more fun to be cheering when you're surrounded by fired-up fans.

The ESPN cameraman kept getting in our field of view
The game was broadcast on ESPN.  Every once and awhile, they'd wheel a cameraman on a elevated platform in front of our section.  He kind of blocked our view, but luckily didn't linger very long in any one place.

End zone celebration after another OSU touchdown
Our seats for this game were in front of the north end zone.  We had excellent views when the action moved towards this side of the field.  We got to see the Beavs score a couple of touchdowns right in front of us!

RRRRRR!!!  Third down chainsaw!!
In Reser Stadium, they broadcast a chainsaw noise during the opponent's third down.  Only last week, did I notice the cute graphics on the jumbo-tron that accompany the chainsaw.  This week I thought to take a photo.

This would be the final score.  Yahoo!
The Beavs completed their final touchdown with two minutes left of the game.  This made the score 36-7 OSU, which was the game final. 

Beaver fans storm the field after an important win
Beavs win!!!  As time expired, overjoyed fans stormed the field.

During the final minutes of the game, the crowd began to chant "beat the Ducks!"  The Civil War is two weeks away.  After last week's game, I figured the Ducks would kill us in the Civil War.  But if the Beavs play the way they did tonight, I think we might stand a chance.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Linda's Lens

I'm never without my trusty camera!

After reading dozens of other people's blogs, with their clever titles, I decided the name "Linda's Blog" was kinda boring.  I needed a new name.  But what could I call my blog?  Hmmm.......  ( I'm an engineer, and we are not known for our creativity!) 

And then one day in the shower it came to me (good ideas always happen in the most unusual places).  I like photography.  I take tons of pictures.  I post many photos.  My blog captures life through a camera lens.  Linda's Lens!! 

So I'd like to unveil the new name of my blog - Linda's Lens.  To my readers, (I think there are a couple of you out there!) I hope you like the change, and please continue to check in for more photos and stories of my adventures.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Beaver Blowout

Time for football game number two!  Last Saturday, I traveled to Corvallis for another OSU game.  Roger was on a hunting trip for the weekend, so I asked Cody if he wanted to attend the game with me.  To my surprise, he said yes!  (Cody isn't usually a huge sports fan)  I did a short detour to Mt. Angel to pick up my son before heading to Corvallis.

My kids enduring another photo session

This particular weekend was Father's weekend.  Denise had her entire family come down - except for her father!  She joked that Cody was her dad substitute and we were going to have to paint a mustache on him.

Denise and I having lunch before the game
When my kids get together, it is always a lot of fun.  We had lunch at McMenamin's and I was entertained by the back and forth banter between brother and sister.  Cody is the straight man, and Denise has a wicked sense of humor.  They had me laughing in no time.

Both bands play the National Anthem
One of Denise's friends joined us for the game.  The girls headed to to student section, and Cody and I found our seats near the south end zone.  We were running late, and walked into the stadium just as both bands were playing the National Anthem.  We paused on the stairway until it was finished.

They brought a huge American Flag on the field
Our opponent was the Washington State University Cougars.  They usually have the worst football team in the PAC-10 conference, so the Beavers were expected to win.

Benny Beaver, OSU's mascot, hangs with the band
Our seats happened to be right in front of the WSU cheerleaders, with their band in front of the adjacent section.  There were quite a few WSU fans sitting around us, too.  This was gonna be interesting.

I model my orange attire
The game started out with a lot of trading possession of the ball.  The Beavs couldn't seem to move the ball very far and the 4th downs came quickly.  Our quarterback got sacked a few times.  The defense seemed to be asleep at the wheel.

Football action (always near the other team's end zone!)
Most of the action was near the WSU end zone.  The Beavs couldn't seem to move the ball very close to their side of the field.  By the second quarter, the Cougars had scored twice, and we were still a big fat zero.  There was one really obnoxious WSU fan sitting right behind me.  When his team scored their second touchdown, he whistled so loud, I had to cover my ears.  There wasn't much noise coming from the Beaver fans in our section.  Not a whole lot to cheer about.

Benny Beaver joining OSU's band for the halftime show
It was a relief when halftime came.  The WSU band took the field first and did a boring show to the music of "Spartacus."  Cody, a former marching band member, provided commentary on the band's form and sound.

The band played Van Halen music!
Then it was time for OSU's band.  They did a set to the music of Van Halen.  I'd never heard Van Halen music done by a marching band before, but they pulled it off.  The show was lively and fun, even if their marching wasn't precise (according to my ex-marching band kids).

High-kickin' Dads on the jumbo-tron
Since it was Dad's weekend, all the fathers of the marching band members joined the band on the field for a dance number.  That was hilarious!  They showed close-ups of the dancin' dads on the stadium's jumbo-tron screen.  I especially like this photo.  The dads are doing a Rockettes impersonation.  Denise said later it would almost be worth joining the OSU marching band, just to make her Dad dance on the field.

Cody and I watching the Beavers get creamed
The second half of the game was even more dismal than the first.  Although the Beavs did manage to score a couple of touchdowns, WSU scored 17 more points.  I don't know what happened to the team we saw whip Cal two weekends ago, but I think someone snuck in and switched all our players!  They certainly did not play like the same team.  I later told Roger it was as if OSU had forgot how to play football.

Denise and her friend model their makeup

With two minutes left of the game, the score was 31-14, WSU.  There was no hope of a win.  OSU fans were leaving the stadium in droves.  I told Cody to call Denise and ask her if she wanted to leave.  About that time Cody's cell phone rang.  It was Denise and she was ready to go!

Even though the game was less than perfect, it was still a wonderful day.  I got to spend time with both Cody and Denise.  Any day I get to be with my kids is a good day!  It's so nice that they are both close by.  I'm really looking forward to having them home for Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fall Finale

Every fall I plan a photography trip into the Columbia River Gorge.  The Gorge is my most favorite place in Oregon.  It's beautiful in any season, but in the fall it is spectacular.  You just can't beat the colorful leaves amidst the rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and greenery.

Multnomah Falls

The fall colors usually peak by late October.  This year, I watched the weather throughout the last half of October, hoping for a decent day on the weekend.  But the forecasters kept predicting rain, so I'd make other plans.  Then the weekend would roll around and surprise! - the weather would turn out nice after all. 

After two consecutive weekends of botched forecasts, I quit listening to the weatherman. There is only a short window to view the fall colors, and time was running out. I picked a date for my photo safari, and decided I was going, rain or shine.

Multnomah Falls Lodge is dressed up for fall

The first Friday of November dawned, foggy, but dry. Bear and I packed up and headed for the Gorge. As I drove east, the fog began to lift. It looked like I was going to get a good day.

My first stop was Multnomah Falls.  I originally wasn't going to stop here, as this place is usually overrun by tourists.  But it was early enough in the morning that the crowds were still light.  I left Bear in the car, and hopped out for a couple of shots from the parking lot.

Competing beauty

I found the trees around Multnomah Falls in full color mode.  They were absolutely stunning!  I snapped away, trying for the best composition.  The trees adjacent to Multnomah Falls Lodge were a lovely shade of orange, which I tried to capture.

There was a large group of people congregating near a small creek below the falls.  They were watching something in the water.  Curious, I walked over to observe.  Bright red salmon were migrating up the creek!   I'd never seen a salmon run in the Gorge before.  It was very cool.  I tried to get a photo, but those fishies were too fast.

Ponytail Falls with a class of school kids on the trail behind

My next stop was Horsetail Falls.  My plan was to hike up the Gorge Trail to visit Ponytail Falls and the viewpoint just beyond the falls.  Ponytail Falls is a fun waterfall because the trail goes behind the falls.  Always an interesting view when you're behind a waterfall!

While I was set up with my tripod photographing Ponytail Falls, a large group of grade-school age kids came hiking by.  It was fun to hear their enthusiastic comments.  The kids all loved hiking behind Ponytail Falls.  They lingered underneath the waterfall for awhile.  I waited for them to leave so I could get some shots, but soon gave up and included the group in my images.  The nice thing about having people in photographs is it gives a sense of scale.

Bear gives me his "quit taking photos and get hiking" look

After taking way to many photographs (is there such a thing??) I headed further up the trail.  From past hikes, I remembered there was a viewpoint not too far from Ponytail Falls.  I was hoping for some good fall color vistas.  Bear would run ahead and then double back to make sure I was still following.  He's hiked with me enough to know I get distracted by a pretty scene and that leads to an impromptu photo session!

Beacon Rock and a patchwork of fall colors

As I approached the viewpoint, the sun started to peep out of the clouds.  I got glimpses every now and then of the trees below, and they looked nice.  I started to get excited - sunlight and nice colors.  This was gonna be good!

Small pond and trees below the viewpoint

And the viewpoint lived up to my expectations.  The trees below were a patchwork quilt of color - yellow, gold, and green.  Although many of them had shed most of their leaves, there was still enough color left for an amazing scene.  The Columbia River gleamed, calm and blue.  And although the view to the east was somewhat hazy, I could see Beacon Rock in the distance.

The Columbia River, blue and beautiful

Looking across the Columbia River, the Washington side of the Gorge had a scattered speckling of fall color.  There was one lone boat fishing the river.

Horsetail Falls

After spending way too much time at the viewpoint, I finally tore myself away and headed back down the trail.  At the parking lot, I fired off a few shots of Horsetail Falls, framed by yellow leaves.

Elowah Fall's lacy white curtain

Next on my agenda was Elowah Falls, my favorite Gorge waterfall.  Due to a 0.8 mile hike to reach the falls, it is not as popular as other waterfalls in the Gorge.  I've visited Elowah many times, but always in the spring or summer.  I wanted to see what it looked like in autumn. 

Elowah's green grotto

I can tell you now, the fall season is the absolute best time to visit Elowah.  Oh my, it was lovely!  The falls were flanked by yellow-orange leaves, and neon yellow lichen.  Oh - and there was also lots of green moss and ferns to add to the palette.  Wow, wow, and wow!

These rocks are getting a shower

The trick to photographing Elowah Falls is to get as close as you can without getting soaked by the spray.  I got a little too close and had to wipe my lens off between takes.  Some of my photos ended up with water spots anyway.  Oh well, I had fun trying.

My attempt at a self-portrait
I walked over the trail to the opposite side of the falls and set up my tripod for more photos.  I thought while I was set up, why not try and get a couple of photos of myself?  I hit the self timer and ran to my chosen spot.  However, the camera was set up for long exposures and I couldn't hold still long enough for a clear image.  And it didn't help that Bear followed me into the frame.  There was no way he was holding still!  This photo is the best one I got.

Lone leaf on the trail

The entire time I spent at Elowah Falls, Bear and I were the only visitors.  It was sure nice to have the place to myself!  It is truly a beautiful spot in the Gorge.

Crown Point's amazing view

After Elowah Falls, it was time to start heading back home.  I decided to follow the Columbia Gorge Historic Highway as far as I could.  This highway is an amazing feat of engineering.  It was built to be driven slowly so motorists could take in the wonderful views.  With the golden leaves framing the road, I did just that.

The Vista House

The Historic Highway passes many waterfalls, winds around forested slopes, and finally climbs up to Crown Point, a rocky outcrop overlooking the Gorge.  There is a visitor's center, called the Vista House, at Crown Point that is a most interesting building.  The views at Crown Point are breathtaking.  They were especially wonderful that day, with the fall colors adding much to the beauty.

Crown Point as viewed from the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint

The last stop on my tour was at the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.  This spot has an amazing view of Crown Point and the Gorge looking east.  As I drove into the parking lot, I was happy to see a lot of fall color on Crown Point's slopes.  This would make an already beautiful scene even better!

Vista House juts out over the Gorge

It was late afternoon, and the light was in a good spot.  The sun intermittently peeked out of the clouds and lit up the hillside.  I couldn't have asked for a better scene to photograph.  This viewpoint is one of the best in the Gorge, if not all of Oregon.

My photo trip was a smashing success!  The colors were still out in force, the weather was dry, and I even got a little bit of sun here and there.  The weekend was fall's last gasp, as the leaves began to turn ugly brown and fall off the trees by the following week.  So I'm happy I got out and photographed the fall finale before the dreariness of winter settles in.