Friday, October 31, 2008

Oregon in Black & White

I have not had my darkroom set up for over 25 years. Time, lack of space, career demands and a dozen other excuses, such as raising a family, come to mind. Still, I have fond memories of the private world Linda and I would enter with only a safe light for company. The thrill of watching the image materialize on paper in the developer and the sense of quality that good, silver-based paper gives is quite different from the what most photographers go through now.

Here are a few images from Oregon where we lived for several years in the 1970s. The picture from Central Oregon was taken on the highway from Bend to Malheur, one of the loneliest, but beautiful, stretches of finished highway anywhere. The high north desert is quite different from what most people think of when they consider rained-on Oregon.
The other two pictures are from the Fern Ridge Reservoir, located only a few miles west of Eugene. In the early spring, there may be a lake below those clouds, but it is impossible to tell. The lichen-covered trees are typical. They drain the reservoir in the winter and it becomes acres and acres of mud flats, often lost in the rain and fog. Old roads and other hints of pre-water civilization show up, then disappear when the reservoir is refilled in the spring.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

House construction in August 2008

Some pictures we took at the end of the summer. In both of the interior shots, you are looking across the entire floor.
The first picture shows the house from the southeast. Note the large windows and overhangs on the south side and minimal windows on the east. The tiny lawn next to the porch is now partly covered with mums.
The downstairs interior picture shows the view toward our masonry heater and the kitchen area behind. The upstairs shot shows the bedroom area and the upstairs bath. Since these pictures were taken, the interior walls have lost their measles look as we have gotten base coats of paint on the sheetrock. The interior is open. The only "rooms" are the bathrooms and our closet. As a result, the house is full of light whenever the sun is up. Of course, it gets dark inside pretty quickly once the sun goes down since we still have no electricity. House will never be connected to the mains in any case.
The timber framing is all local oak, the downstairs floored with tile and the upstairs in yellow pine. The masonry heater is a Finnish style and sheathed in local limestone we recovered from a ruin on the family's farm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts on building

We start with a field of dreams. It may be an actual field, or it might be an open lot, or a place where another building stood. Still, it begins with a blank space, a space in which we draw our vision up out of the ground, conjure walls, a roof, windows, floors and spaces. Once such a dream would involve no more than the biggest and grandest space that one could afford. Today it may involve questions of how long the building will last, where its materials came from, what it will cost to upkeep and the health of the environment it creates.

The academic libraries I visited in the spring of 2008, new or old but mostly LEED-certified, all reflected new concerns with long-term costs and the long-term environment being created. I find this encouraging and refreshing, although I am still not sure if this is a trend. I hope so.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fox Girl (copyright 2008) Wes Loder

The bleat was more scream than cry. The boy pivoted, put down his cup and stared out of the open dutch door. “Elsie? Elsie!”
A second cry hit his ears, but he was already taking the porch steps two at a time and tearing toward the barn, the screen door banging behind him. The barnyard’s gate was closed, but—never mind—he scaled it, spotting the cause of Elsie’s cries just before he dropped over the other side. His family’s favorite ewe and her three days old lamb were both outside. So was another, older lamb and something red—like flame and anger flashing—all four circling and jumping in a frantic dance together.
Without thinking, he charged right into this circle of snorts, bleats and sudden, high-pitched barks—the barks sounding like the horn at the start of a race, or a dog’s last cry as it discovers the inflexibility of a moving car’s bumper. The red-furred animal was the boy’s target. He swept aside the bigger lamb and dove at the creature still spinning in the manure pile, caught between Elsie and himself. He had a dim, break-of-dawn vision of a small, narrow-snouted dog, all flame-colored except for black feet and a white chest. Then it was under his body and he had it by the throat and jaw, his right hand clamping its mouth shut.
Suddenly his grip slipped, for the nose he had just held was flattening, and changing from black to white, the creature’s head growing rounder and its ears shrinking. The flailing, furry, dark paws were morphing into hands scarcely smaller than his own, a fuzzy red dress replacing what had been fur and bushy tail.
A moment later, and he was staring into frightened, blue eyes set in a pale face and framed by the brightest red hair he could ever imagine. “Hu, huh” the girl gasped.
“Wha …?” The boy let his hands go limp and panted several times before more words could come out. “Where’d you come from?” he finally managed.
“Ah-mm, Mmp?” the girl seemed to be able to manage only meaningless noises from deep in her throat.
“I’m sorry. I’m sitting on you, aren’t I?” The boy rolled off the girl. He was about to offer her a hand when he spotted the first drop of blood dribbling from the side of her mouth. He backed away, holding up his hands with the index fingers crossed. Yes, he could see that the older lamb was limping and the wool of Elsie’s near shoulder was turning a dark red. “Go away,” he cried. “Go, go back to your own world. Leave our sheep alone. Go on. I’m sorry I hurt you, but begone.”
The girl got up on her knees, then stood, brushing bits of straw and turds from her dress. She stared at him, her eyes wet and anxious, then she licked away the blood on her chin with a long, black tongue.

Plug for book

I will start this with an unabashed plug for my first book (The Golden Horn, published August 2007, ISBN: 1-4241-8927-6, Available from the publisher, PublishAmerica, or through Amazon, or at the Waldens in the Fairlane Mall, Pottsville, or the bookstore at the Schuylkill Campus of Penn State).

"In the Balkan country of Starnovia, a land of roses and dust, memories and hatreds run deep, and poor families sell their daughters to city brothels. Here, over one long summer, an American boy and a Starnovian girl discover the power of truth and love.

"For Jim Gailey, the excavation of the ancient fortress of Castelschtop begans as just a job to earn extra college credits. But for Jonnie Gilenhoff, the native girl he rescues from a bar and hires as his assistant, the archaeological dig means far more—for it promises of a new future for both her country and herself.

"As the excavating progresses, Jim and Jonnie struggle to maintain proprieties yet help each other. A death vendetta, ancient lies, stolen equipment and growing affection all come together in a fatal climax, sparked by the recovery of a national treasure believed lost in an invasion 300 years earlier."

Sales have been good, reviews have been helpful and positive. Perhaps its biggest problem is finding a niche. Is it YA, crossover or adult? Is it an adventure, a coming-of-age story, a mystery or a romance? Is it a guy-book- or chick-lit? Have it any way you like, because it is all of these. If you have read it, let me know your thoughts. I am open to any feedback and suggestions.

For my next entry, I will share a little something that might be appropriate for the coming Halloween season.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Most of the pictures Linda and I took of the house raising a year ago were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995, which has since died. I also took quite a few pictures using a Nikon rangefinder camera and a 21mm f4 Nikkor. A nice combination for this kind of work and one that allows coverage of all the action.


I guess everyone has to start by explaining why he or she is pushing his or her interests on a nosy public. My reasons are modest, but mercenary. I have written and published two books that people—even those who are not my friends—say are well-written, informative and entertaining. I hope that this blog might reach more of a public that would be interested in what I have had to say.
The second reason will become clearer as I comment on the home Linda and I are building. We believe that all of us need to move to a life style that uses less energy, is healthier and reduces our carbon footprint. Others’ thoughts are welcome in this regard.
Finally, I hope to occasionally showcase some of my writings in progress, comment of my photography and feature pictures I have taken. Again, feedback is welcome.