Windows with views – Travel

If not for the long hours inflight and all sorts of travel restrictions, I would go back to Taiwan now and enjoy the luxury to live normally. For years, I was not disciplined enough to download pictures and do the due diligence to edit and delete after each shot. It’s now the good time to catch up, and to fall into the dream to travel to the past.

Nan-Yuan (meaning South Garden) is located in Hsin-Chu country, about one hour drive from Taipei, the capital city north. It is a retreat place originally built by a Taiwanese news tycoon for his family. The place sits in the seclusive high mountain overlooking the valley. Breathtaking and out of the world.

Aside from the architectural, cultural and intellectual elements throughout, everything seems to be deliberately designed and displayed. I felt I could be there days and thinking I was in heaven. 2013 is the beginning of my photography journey when I visited Nan-Yuan (also called One Place by the owner). I desire to go back sometime to look at it from different perspectives.

Out of everything, I was most attracted to the windows (and doors) in all shapes (an opened book, a flower vase, a pair of pears…). Walking along the path in the retreat, unique scenes after scenes are casually and randomly framed by the windows or the doors.

Sight is showcased by the frames (windows and doors), and one frame is being framed by the other.

Current lock-downs deprive our freedom physically, but we can free up ourselves by seeing through the windows and conducting virtual tours through the pictures.

Memories from Travel

My new normal is to conduct home and hobby projects working from a planned list and a designated timeline. I like to be able to adjust my pace to make the process fun and relaxing, and yet, not to waste the time away.

Most of my intensive travel was done while I was still working and thought photography is a luxury hobby. Still having a bucket list of travel destinations and still patiently waiting for the pandemic to be lessened, I am going through the old travel pictures. Most of my intensive travel was done while I was still working and way before my photography journey. Still having a bucket list of travel destinations and still patiently waiting for the pandemic to be lessened, I can at least go through the old travel pictures.

She was working in a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. Every morning as I enjoyed my breakfast, I spotted her red jacket and noticed that she was one of the industrious workers whose bucket seemed always full. One day I walked up to her asking for a shot, she returned with a smile. This smile has always been in my mind. I wish her well.

After visiting numerous castles, mansions and churches in Europe, I found my ‘fiddler-on-the-roof’ in front of a Spanish palace. His self-content and nostalgic music are infectious and impactful. A few years later I ran into the texture with the music notes and this image has since become one of my favorites. I can still feel and hear up to this day.

That was at least 15 years ago. I ran into my colleague in Hong Kong while we were both traveling for work. We decided to utilize the weekend time and travel to Guilin, South West China where layers of winding rice patties are the unique landscape for the region. Farming residents then grew their own food with natural fertilizers, but we were still skeptical about the food quality in the restaurant. While there was no better choice, we took some stomach medicine and walked into a local restaurant. Surprise and not, the food is naturally and organically delicious. I can still remember the freshly stir-fried crunchy cabbage we had.

She was trimming freshly harvested chili and placed them on the bamboo plate. With two chatty people walking by, she did not even raise her head. No disturbance is the message. Our chat paused and footsteps were gradually quiet down… Simple yet colorful, Silent yet busy, Secluded yet a workforce on its own.

A New Year Day

Today is the first day of the lunar New Year 2021. Every day is a new day and worth the celebration.

Almost one year after the invasion of Corvid-19, we are now facing new challenges from the variants. We continue to practice social distancing and wear the masks. At the same time, I think we need to go back to a new normal presuming virus prevention measure is followed. We cannot put a pause note in our life and wait for the virus-free day to come.

As soon as the temperature goes up and flower buds start to pop, I will head out again, with mask and distance. On the rainy days, it is therapeutic to browse the old photos and think good old days. Above was a snapshot with shaded lighting, instead of deleting it, I decided to paint it. Painting was a dream for me, and now I am beginning to enjoy it and desire to do more.

Rain

Often times when I told people that I live in Oregon, “do you get lots of rain there?” is the first response. Yes, we have abundant rain particularly in the wintertime, but to Oregonians, rain is ‘Oregon sunshine’. It’s the resource of luscious green and fresh air. Listening to raindrops on the roof is my all-time favorite thing to do.

Dahlia in the Rain

Keep it Up

When I was back to my blog, I decided that I will say less and show work more frequently. My goal is to continue my photography journey and turn my pictures into paintings as my inspiration leads me on. I admit that I cannot completely ignore the shocking global and local news, but at the very least that I can keep my head down and my heart calm.

From earth Green to fashion Blue, Yellow is my new favorite color, only certain shades of yellow however. In the midst of working on the background texture and color, White tone kept popping up. I guess heavy snowfalls in the country bother me. I would enjoy snow lots more if there is peace on earth and kids are out freely bashing at each other with snowballs.

A New Start

After a long silence, I have decided to move on and get back to my routines.

From considerably reduced outing to staying home, I have put aside my camera and picked up the stylus to paint using my photograph as the starting point. Never painted before, it is a brand-new challenge and endeavor for me. I hope to get better as I am learning and exploring in the process.

Ranuculas

The world is undergoing unprecedented chaos and unease. Back to Nature is the way to breathe fresh air and preserve conscience.

Cyclamen

For more than ten years, I have been trying to grow the common Cyclamen flower without success. I don’t have a green thumb and so I give myself three chances. If all failed, I gave up, but the desire inside has not completely diminished. That little regret keeps me yearning for it.

Back in March when I had an open house, Cyclamen is one of the very few early bloomers. I brought them home after the house was sold. The flowers were fading but green leaves remained. I gave no hope how much longer they would be alive. To my surprise, not only they survived, they thrived up to this day.

It’s now end of October. The flowers are still erecting and new growth kept popping up. Outside is 38 degrees, it’s still a beautiful sunshine day in Oregon. Cold chill is so refreshing that you would actually enjoy it and feel rejuvenating.

Nothing is impossible. Cyclamen proves it for me.

Self-awareness, self-Control

Have not written anything since the last post in July… I made the decision to quit real estate after two transactions. Random schedules of working details after details without nurturing the soul and balancing my life are not what I want as a retiree. It is difficult for me to pass days without doing something more creative.

A global pandemic, flood, fires, protests, riots, and the presidential election. I am just about to boycott all the political news particularly those controlled by malicious news organizations and unethical journalists. I wonder why there are constitutions and rulings for almost everything, but no code of ethics for journalists.

I am an Asian-American. I love this country as much as my home country Taiwan. The land is beautiful and resourceful. Almost total freedom to do what you want. The diversity of people and the rich well of talents have once made it the strongest and most powerful country in the world. But, why the coronavirus is so rapidly and widely spread in the country and put many places in desolation?  We seemed to blame it all on authorities except ourselves.

Back in February when Taiwan was aggressively fighting the virus, I was half-jokingly inviting my friend to come to the US if the virus got uncontrollable in Taiwan.  I would never imagine, within the month, America was so deeply infected while Taiwan was getting out of the threat. Now more than six months down the road, we are still struggling to keep the cases down.

Freedom under the law is a privilege. If freedom causes negative consequence is an intrusion or violation of other’s freedom and social order.  Friendly and outgoing Americans cannot bear to lose a moment of the freedom to ‘enjoy yourselves’ and ‘do whatever you want’. 

Party as usual; Beaches are packed with people. Hugs are controlled, but a hearty greeting following a long chit-chat is inevitable. As the conversation continues, social distance is forgotten and droplets are flying. Many people seem to think surging coronavirus cases are other people’s business, not mine, not until self or family are impacted. Lack of obedience to authorities and abuse of freedom to the extent that life means less than freedom.

Some protests to make the statement that all creates equal and none is empowered to risk another’s life regardless of race and social standing.  Unfortunately, the unlawful crowd of people uses the opportunity to address their anger and turn the peace to violence.  Freedom is so misled and misinterpreted.

When the majority are born and grown up in the land of dreams. There have not been enough challenges or hardship in life that people are being trained and bred to have an awareness of danger and in turn, learned to be cautious and protective of themselves.

If people can be more sensitive to the potential risk and practice self-control and discipline, we should not have to live the way we are now. Stop fighting to blame on each other but to curb the spread by practicing self-control and self-discipline.

Learning to use WordPress new editor and digital painting software. The world is in chaos, but we can maintain a goal and continue the development process without being impacted by surrounding false information. I will resume my photography adventure and get back to my normal again.

Simply Oregon

People are tired of staying home, but not all can easily get out of the house and enjoy the peace of quiet and solitude. But here, a 10-min drive will get you somewhere with greens, colors, wildlife, and nature songs like creek water and bird calls.

Came from a densely-populated city, this natural and wild environment is fresh air for me. When I left Taiwan 30+ years ago, the only bird I ever noticed is the sparrow and now ‘new’ birds are being added to my list of hundreds regularly.  Frogs are nothing uncommon but I have never seen 8 of them in a short walk, and, it’s my first time seeing a toad.

Back in April, the strawberries from the local farms are absolutely godly delicious. I don’t buy lbs or baskets, I bought flats (12 baskets) to enjoy them fresh, make fruit desserts and jams. Even in a gourmet store, you cannot find homemade jams with authentic (non-hot house) and fresh strawberries.

When the strawberry fever is diminishing, we have Blueberries to expect for July-Aug. Lots of organic farms as well as U-pick places. The large (kids call it ‘Jumbo’), juicy, and sweet blueberries are fearlessly tempting to kids and adults.

The United States is one of the main hazelnuts producers in the world and Oregon produces 99% of the American hazelnuts in the beautiful Williamette Valley. Not only possesses high nutrition value, but Hazelnuts also have a distinctive flavor that does not exist in other nuts.

A relaxing Friday, nothing dramatic, simply Oregon.

A Past-Due Post

It’s a summer July day. Sun is aggressively scorching the ground. I took a morning walk to skip the heat and now in the shade, being combed by the breeze and listing to the fountain water sound. Oregon summer can be hot but never been intolerable. Temperature ranges from high 50 to low 80 in a day is normal and this comfortable range lasts from June to September or even October.

I had my first real estate listing in March, sold the house on the second day of my first open house, the absolutely last weekend before the open house was banned due to coronavirus.  A second deal came to me while I was working on the first deal. As a result, first deal was closed in April and the second one in May.  Real Estate is a brand-new advendure for me and I’ve invested my mind and soul into it. An intensive couple of months plus the coronavirus spread have made me wander my second move.

Short-Earred Owl

Work has never bothered me, but days without camera were hard. I kept feeling that I missed something, I think, due to lack of creativity output regularly. Not pursuing perfect bird images, bird walks give me chance to easily stay in touch of my camera and the Nature. So we made a camping trip to the wildlife refuge. Have not camped for years, I was concerned that we might miss lots of essential items, but as it turns out, we have brought everything we need, had a great time and now in the process of planning any trip.

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Walking through the trail with birds flying, calling and singing from both sides of the trail is an amazing experience. For bird lovers, any discovery of a new bird is rewarding. So many targets are within the range and some of them are so colorful… at some point, I did not know where to aim my camera. Wablers are my favorite, but they are small, move fast and hard to be photographed.

Cedar WaxwingCommon Yellowthroat is commonly-known, but I have never seen one. Not until recently I began to identify their call and unexpected, I was able to capture a few shots. Besides Cedar Waxwing, this cute warbler has become my new love.

Common Yellowthroat

After a long pause, I am glad that I am back, blogging and sharing. More about Oregon Life to come.