Paint It

This was not a very good summer. Besides pandemic, I had one camera and one lens in the repair shop for more than a month. It is a good time though to go through the old photos and refresh many precious moments.

Outing is not as readily convenient these days, I found another creativity outlet – digital painting. Drawing is not my forte. Utilizing photography to create a blueprint (sketch) and painting software to draw digitally makes my painting dream possible. To me, it’s all about self-enjoyment and creativity opportunities.

I surely don’t spend lots of time editing a picture, but I found it great fun tweaking a picture and adding artistic elements. Just like seven years ago, when I started to learn photography, I went through a struggling phase, many enlightenment moments, and growing satisfaction.

People are one of my favorite categories, but I don’t show much for privacy concerns. Above is a random snapshot I took at the fair. Her beautiful profile has inspired me to paint.

On the trip to Vietnam, I was attracted to the scene with a roar boat, a lady with a bamboo hat, and a tropical background. Something about your own ethnical origin is built and empressed within. Tropical just looks charming and intimate to me.

Camera catches the reality, but I can revamp it for my liking and taste through painting. Creative realm is beyond imagination and is where I experienced true joy from deep inside.

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.

A Balanced Life

My listing was on the market for less than 5 days,  a full price offer came on the second day of the Open House. This was the last weekend when Open House was still a typical real estate event. Now coronavirus has thrown all business and personal life into a haul and chaos except some essential categories, including housing-related constructions. I am grateful that my listing is now closed.  I just made an offer for a Buyer, and the offer was accepted. Now I am onto another journey in real estate.

After months of recess, I finally picked up my regular camera and went out to the local garden to capture some spring colors. It was total relaxation and rejuvenation to my soul. Luckily I live in a less-populated state and can still enjoy the outdoor space away from the crowd.

Joggling between photography and real estate, creativity and reality, I found balance in my life. It can be challenging sometimes, but I feel fulfilling and rewarding.

Stay Home

Where do I begin… I had my first listing in Oregon. Oregon announced the first case of coronavirus… My birding trip was canceled… I had the first open house and accepted a full price offer on the second day of the open house… Eugene and Springfield area (where I live) had the first and second case of coronavirus earlier last week and both were dead!… Oregon announced the state of emergency last Wednesday, today re-enforced ‘stay home’  and I am now homebound and working from home.

It might be difficult for some people not to constantly connected with the family, friends and the social circle. Otherwise, it is a good time to simply relax, ponder and find a focus on something that you don’t normally do or something that you wanted to do, but have not had chance to do.

Sunrise at Crater Lake

Haven’t done a lot, but I always like black and white images from which you are drawn to focus your mind on fewer details than being overwhelmed by colors and details.

Spark Lake

Took a short drive to Spark Lake with my daughter and her family last year, I ended up with hundreds of kids’ pictures. My attention went to every single move of the kids. The scenery was ‘just’ background for the little ones. If I am not staying home now, quiet and calm, this image would not pop up on me.

A Foggy Morning

We should stay home away from the crowd, but we don’t need to stay away from nature. This pond is only 15 mins drive away from my house.   I can come here to listen to the bird’s chirp and watch the ducks play.

Diversity

Twenty-five years ago when I decided to move to Oregon, my whole family objected to the ‘crazy’ idea. I met a new in-law at the wedding. He earnestly shook my hands (happy to know you) and immediately lifted his eyebrows in uncertainty when Oregon was mentioned. “Oregon? will I ever go there?”

Oregon is close to my California siblings and a natural and peaceful place to be. That’s all I knew. Honestly, I also had my doubt and a small degree of uncertainty and fear. Having been traveling all over the countries on business in my youth, I was so used to be the minority. But living is not the same as visiting.

The proof is, I am still here after 25 years and I am still loving Oregon. Eugene is legally defined as a city. She might be a small town in the eyes of New Yorkers, but the size does not impact the growth of diversity. I smile whenever I see cultural integration, the Westerners are engaging in Eastern art.

It’s entertaining and joyful to see Caucasian kids dressed like Asians.  Colors are always wonderful, but the traditional fan adds its magic. Not just for curiosity, more Caucasian kids are learning Chinese Kong-Fu which cultivates strength, resistance, and practical self-defense skills. And, for the photographer, the motion blur created by the dance and kong-fu performance is very interesting.

 

If not for the annual Asian Celebration (the 32nd), I won’t have any idea about the varieties of ethnic groups living in town. People are so friendly and neighborly here. I have never felt that I am a minority. I am simply part of the community.

My goal of writing these blogs is to unveil the mystery of Oregon living and share with you what we do, where we go and daily life in general.

Oregon Lifestyle – what to do?

A clear and bright winter day is precious since Oregonian’s slogan is ‘rain or shine, business as usual.’ We packed up our cameras and went on a birding drive. Within a 25 mins drive distance from home, we had great fun ‘capturing’ various flyers.

In Oregon, when you are out of the house, you are quickly stepping into nature. When the birds sing, you can hear it. When they fly, you can easily follow them around.  Western Meadowlark is about, but they are usually too far away for a clear shot. Just when I thought I finally grabbed him standing in the perfect light (and close enough), he suddenly turned his head, and my click sound scared him away. Luckily I was able to record their songs.

Spring lambs are out running after their Moms. The adults are hairy enough to be sheared.  The bird buddies enjoyed being cushioned on their backs. Here I see not only nature but also harmony among the creatures. Very often, I feel I am inspired and touched by mother nature. It is the life in Oregon that drives me to observe all these amazing things behind nature.

I live in the 3rd largest city Eugene where there might not have abundant job opportunities like Portland, but the work-from-home folks and people who are in public services still have plenty of jobs to pursue. Many private small businesses offer a family-like working environment where the task becomes a pleasure and co-workers like your family or friends.  With its central location, you can travel north or south to other big cities. Go west to the Pacific Ocean (the famous Oregon coast) and east to Central and Eastern Oregon, the high desert area where you go for recreational activities, e.g., hiking and skiing. *Oregon is unique for its versatile geological features, you see it all in one state. In addition to the 50 hiking trails within reach, there are 100 miles of biking trails. Imagine biking along the river…

Portland, including metropolitan areas, covers a significant ground. Obviously, it is the business and career central. However, unlike other big cities, Portland is beautiful, natural, and has easy access to the nature-enhanced living.   Columbia River Gorge, Willamette River, Mount Hood, and countless scenic sites by the river, on the mountain top, or solely around the city.

Salem is the 2nd largest city with the typical capital city ambiance, clean and organized. If you like to have steady government jobs, this is where you want to be. In fact, you can commute from other smaller towns with short driving distance. Usually, ‘downtown’ does not translate the pleasant feelings, but it’s enjoyable to hang out downtown Salem classic neighborhood and riverfront.

Eugene is a college town, cultural and intellectual. It is also a center of artists who create unique artwork and art pieces. I like the ‘just right’ population size, the easy and fast access to nature and the friendly residents here.

(Oregon Lifestyle – 3)