Friday, December 30, 2016


Where I Belong
Every first of the month, City Daily Photo bloggers around the world post one photo based on a single theme. Despite not posting to my blog on a "daily" basis as the name suggests, I have tried to post to all of the Theme Days. That said, there have been a few theme days in the past 20 months that I missed because I was traveling and could not access my blog. The theme from last March 2016, "Where I belong," is one of those. So I chose this for my end-of-the-year/Photo of the Year.

I have lived in the Walla Walla Valley since 1987 when I moved here with my husband and two young sons. It was a nostalgic return for my husband since his great grandparents homesteaded here in the mid 1800s, and he was born in Walla Walla in 1930. For me, it was moving to what I would soon refer to as a quintessential small town with good schools, a quaint downtown, and nice homes on tree-lined streets. In short, it was a good place to raise a family.

Nearly 30 years later, it is still a quintessential small town, although both the town and I have undergone significant changes. I divorced after 20 years of marriage, and my children have grown to be thirty-somethings now. As for the Walla Walla Valley, miles and miles of wheat fields interspersed with commercial pea, onion, and asparagus fields have given way to wheat fields and vineyards. . . lots of vineyards. With that change, old-time mom and pop stores in the downtown corridor went out of business and have been replaced with tasting rooms, upscale restaurants, and a variety of retail shops geared more for the new wine tourist than the local customer. But that's not all bad because overall the town and valley have been revitalized with an aesthetically pleasing, low impact wine industry while keeping the charm of a small rural town in Eastern Washington. 
The schools are still good, the downtown is quaint, and the streets remain tree-lined. 
So it's a win-win.

This photo epitomizes "where I belong" for a number of reasons. First, it's been my home for 30 years, longer than I lived in any one place including my childhood home in Birmingham, Michigan. However, it hasn't always been my favorite place. On my first visit to Walla Walla in 1977 while on my honeymoon, I wasn't so enamored. The drive here from Seattle through miles and miles of seemingly lifeless and dry high desert blinded me to the beauty of this tree-filled oasis nestled in the Blue Mountains. To me it was the armpit of the world. It took 10 years along with a new perspective on life as a parent with two school-aged children, that on a second visit to Walla Walla in 1987 I saw its charms. And they captivated me.

Second, it's an aesthetically beautiful setting. The Blue Mountains in the distance hold the valley in a cradle and change visually with the season, the light, and time of day. Likewise, the wheat fields that undulate north into the heart of the Palouse are ever-changing. The curves and folds of the hills are sensuous embodiments of Mother Earth herself--whether under plow, under snow, under combine, or under sunlight. I have had the pleasure of traveling to many beautiful places in this country and the world, but no single place is any more beautiful than the Walla Walla Valley.

And the open road is an important metaphor in my life. I bicycled up and down this very road for years when I was a passionate and younger road cyclist in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The ride toward the mountains reminded me that life is always going uphill even if it appears flat, so it's best to keep my head down and pedal, pedal, pedal. And while the trip away from the mountains was much easier, it was still best to keep pedaling to maintain my momentum. Then in the summer of 1998 this life lesson that I learned by riding on Walla Walla's roads was repeated for 47 days and 3,254 miles on my 1998 Big Ride Across America: 
Roads go up and roads go down, so it's best to just keep pedaling.

Finally, the open road symbolizes my love of traveling. I don't travel on the seat of a bike anymore after a stupid bike accident in 2010 left me with a shattered wrist and shattered confidence. So now I travel in the air, on the sea, in a bus, or on the back of a camel to see the world. But no matter how far I travel or what I see, I always love coming home to the Walla Walla Valley and to this sight. 

It is where I belong. 

To see the photos of other CDP bloggers, click HERE:

Friday, December 16, 2016


Veterans' Christmas Tree

A community supported tree to honor and thank 
the Military and Veterans of the Walla Walla Valley.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Monday night's snow and subsequent temperatures in the teens 
have all but destroyed the red geranium blooms 
still hanging on from a milder-than-usual November.  
So I'm happy I saved this snow-dusted bloom in a photo 
and showcased it using the iPhone app, PIP. 
Besides, RED is my favorite color!

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Imagine That!

I was off to go shopping, and what did I see?
A big yellow house right in front of me.
I whipped out my camera,
my iPhone that is,
And took all these photos,
For my blog not to miss.

Imagine my surprise as I turned north onto Isaacs and drove a couple blocks only to be stopped by this sight at the bend in the road where Isaacs becomes Rose Street. Since there was no traffic, I stopped my car and snapped a picture before the house moved too far around the corner. Then I made a quick U Turn as there still was no traffic and drove around to the next block where I parked and ran to the corner, iPhone in hand, ready to capture this historic event in photos.

The funny thing is, I had previously read about this upcoming house move in the local paper last week, but I didn't really give it much thought until I happened upon it today. By the time I met up with it, it had already been moved several blocks from its original location on the corner of Linden and Otis on the Whitman College Campus.

This house was one of 12 houses offered for sale by Whitman College to make room for a new sophomore resident dorm and dining hall. The cost of each house was $1, with the new owner taking full responsibility for hiring a professional mover to relocate the structure.

In the photo above, the man in the bucket has just stopped the move and called for someone to raise a wire that was in the way.

At the ready was this worker who arrived with an expandable orange pole which he lengthened, and lengthened, and lengthened until he could lift the wire way overhead. Quite impressive!

A look underneath the trailer shows the massive steel beams on which the house sits along with the drive train and turning mechanism that allows the long trailer to make turns such as this.

The house appears to be in great condition and will make the new owner a nice home in its new location, somewhere up Mill Creek Road.

Having made the right turn onto Park street, the house on wheels heads for Highway 12.

This photo taken last spring by Greg Lehman for the Walla Walla Union Bulletin shows the house in its original location.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


WWDP--On Location in the Panama Canal

The first day of the month is traditionally Theme Day at City Daily Photo. This month's theme is "transitions." Since I have been traveling for the last 30 days, I submit this photo which is clearly NOT of Walla Walla, but does fit the theme quite nicely as the Panama Canal literally allows the transition of ships from one great ocean to the other across the Isthmus of Panama. It also is one of man's engineering marvels of the 20th century and even of the 21st century as it continues to expand to accommodate larger cargo vessels. 

This photo illustrates a number of transitions as three separate ships go through the locks heading to the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Holland America cruise ship I am on is in the foreground. I am on the topmost deck looking down on a mid-level deck open to passengers only during specific sightseeing days like this. Our ship is in the first set of three locks having entered at the level of Gatun Lake and now waiting to be lowered to the next level. The tug boat accompanying us prevents our ship from drifting against the locks themselves.

The ship to the left in a parallel channel is in the second set of locks where it is being lowered to a mid level. The green and white ship in front of us (in the same channel) has exited the second set of locks and is now entering the third set where it will be lowered to sea level. Before our ship can enter the second set, the locks ahead must be closed and then the chamber must be refilled with water to match the level of our ship.  Once in the locks, the water will again be released to lower our ship down to the second level. Finally we'll enter the third set of locks where we will be lowered to the Atlantic Ocean and proceed on our way.

The entire transition from the Pacific Ocean through the Miraflores Locks, through Culebra Cut, across Gatun Lake, through the Gatun Locks to the Atlantic Ocean took us nearly 12 hours and raised and lowered our ship 85 feet two times. 

For a look at the "transitions" other CDP bloggers have posted, follow this link:

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Bringing Art to the Students 

The Carnegie Picture Lab provides volunteer-led art history presentations and art instruction at least three times a year to every participating K-5 classroom in the Walla Walla Valley. The Picture Lab also supports the schools with library book donations, follow up activities, family fun nights, and field trips.

BRIEF HISTORY: Founded in the early 1970s as Carnegie Art Center's Picture Lady Program, the popular program was restructured when the original Carnegie Art Center building changed hands in 2009. With a new name, logo, and mission/vision statement, the non-profit organization expanded its board of directors and added new members with expertise in education, community outreach, communications, grant writing, finance, and leadership skills all with the goal of insuring the sustainability of the program for decades to come.

2016-17 SCHOOL YEAR: This year the students will explore portraiture and relationships with Mary Cassatt, printmaking with Ukiyo-e artists, and graphic color collages with Henri Matisse.

As a first-year volunteer, I signed up to teach three classes of 4th and 5th graders at Blue Ridge Elementary. I chose that school among the area grade schools because that is where my son attended K-4 many years ago, and it is also a feeder school to Garrison Middle School where I taught for 24 years. 

After the requisite volunteer training workshop, I was deemed ready to have a go on my own, so with the help of a Power Point slide show and several art posters, I introduced my eager students to the life and art of American artist, Mary Cassatt, who is most well known for her paintings of women and children. This segued into the art instruction of how to draw their own portraits where I demonstrated the basic guidelines for positioning the facial features and how to use a mirror to help draw their own unique features. This proved much more difficult than I had anticipated, so as a result few finished the project completely. But the photos below illustrate some solid first attempts at portraiture.

Students had a choice of materials to color their portraits; most chose chalk pastel over colored pencils or crayons. The use of pastels should probably have been a lesson unto itself, but I persevered and tried to give mini lessons to as many kids as I could in the time I had. 

These unfinished portraits show the relationship of the eyes, the nose and the mouth which was part of the art lesson. It was fun to witness the problem solving going on but also disappointing to see the self-doubt and inner critiques creeping in among these young artists. A dedicated K-12 art program would do wonders to allow kids to nurture the creativity that is naturally in all of us, but I'll save that for another discussion. At least they get an introduction to art three times a years via the Carnegie Picture Lab.

For more information about Carnegie Picture Lab, follow this link:

For more information about the history of the original Picture Lady program and the transition to the Picture Lab program, follow this link:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Walla Walla Branch of the Red Hat Society

There I was, seated by myself at the local McDonald's filling time until my next Carnegie Picture Lab presentation, when these two women sat down at the table just kitty-corner from me. I immediately recognized their outfits as those of the Red Hat Society, and knew I wanted to take their picture. But people pictures present an obstacle for me as I don't like invading people's personal space. And while asking is always proper photo etiquette, the resulting photos are often not as natural as a candid shot. So I did what I often do, adjusted myself in a casual posture as I looked at my cell phone, ostensibly viewing Facebook or a text message, but in reality taking several candid photos. 

As I left, I stopped at their table and complimented them on their lovely hats. A short conversation ensued about the local branch of the Red Hat Society during which time I realized that I recognized these two women. The one on the right worked in the Walla Walla School District for years while the other was my Eastern Washington University Supervisor when I did my student teaching some 28 years ago. I now perform a similar role for Walla Walla University supervising their student teachers and have often thought of Jackie Ormsby as I reflect on my own long teaching career. 
Talk about synchronicity!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've saved no money for butter.

For the remainder of the poem and more about the Red Hat Society, click HERE

Monday, October 24, 2016


Blue Ridge Elementary School

Blue Ridge Elementary School is one of six K-5 schools in the Walla Walla School District. It is also home to the district's Head Start/ECEAP Preschool Program. The mural of faces on the exterior walls of the main entrance was painted at least 25 years ago, and yet it still reflects the diversity of the school as well as the greater Walla Walla community. The self portraits were drawn by the students themselves and then transferred to the wall where they were painted in situ.

Even after all those years, looking at these faces always makes me smile. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Abeja Vineyard

October brings the last of the grape harvest in the Walla Walla Valley. From the looks of it, these were the last few rows of grapes left to harvest in the vineyard along Mill Creek Road. 

Friday, October 21, 2016


Fall Decor & More

With the summer flowers in the garden and patio pots all but spent, and colder, rainier weather forcing indoor pursuits, tis the time for autumnal decorating. Bring on the squashes, gourds, cornstalks, and colorful Indian corn. And if you don't grow these things yourself, Klicker's is where you can find them all, and more.

Yes, you can even buy bundles of dry cornstalks. Imagine that!

Inside the shop, I am particularly smitten with the antique buffalo check tin, but then I love anything red.

Trick or Treat!

Monday, October 17, 2016


A Hometown Halloween Ritual

I've photographed and written about Klicker's in all four seasons because if ever there was an iconic tradition in Walla Walla, Klicker Berries and Antiques would be it. 
On a recent cloudy Friday, with the threat of wind and rain imminent, families with young children and groups of college-age friends were still on the hunt in search of that perfect pumpkin. And even though the traditional giant orange squashes are not grown by Klicker's, and going to the closest Safeway or Wal-Mart would be much easier, it's way more fun to wander up and down the aisles of pumpkins, stopping to judge, measure, and imagine which one will become this year's prized jack-o'-lantern. 

Besides, there's so much more to do at Klicker's than simply picking out a pumpkin as these kids can attest. A pyramid of straw bales holds the giant metal slide that takes kids on a speedy ride down one side while a crowd of camera-ready parents and grandparents record the glee-filled faces. I even spied a college-age young woman taking her turn to the whoops and hollers of her friends close by.

Once is never enough!

Those who know me well, know that I love anything RED, along with old and rusty--
 especially as potential objets d'art for the garden. So this collection of Radio Flyer wagons definitely caught my attention. 
Here at Klicker's they are used to load up with pumpkins, the bigger the better.

Every season has its heyday at Klicker's, and by the end of next month this building along with the grassy field that's now filled with pumpkins will be filled with row upon row of Christmas trees. For now, it houses many of the old and antique items that will eventually fill several rooms in the main store which is in another building nearby.

When I saw this hot-air balloon wind spinner hanging from one of the beams in the Christmas Tree barn, I realized this was the closest I was going to get to photographing the real thing this weekend. Unfortunately, the weather forecast of wind and rain cancelled all but Wednesday morning's Kids' Day tethered lift. The Balloon Stampede, another long-time local tradition, had been scheduled to fill the Walla Walla Valley sky with hot-air balloons all weekend, but it wasn't in the cards this year. Hence this photo.

Remember those menacing clouds? By the time I ventured inside the store to take a few photos, the sky let loose in a flurry of rain and small hailstones which vacated the pumpkin field forcing shoppers into the store and me into my car, or, as seen by this girl, waiting pumpkin in hand under the overhang for the rain to stop.