Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Greetings 1992-2008.

I began making my own holiday cards in 1992 after spending a lot of time in Yosemite and wanting to make use of some of my favorite winter imgages. The project has now evolved into a once a year cottage industry. The photographs are now a reflection of where I am in my life, central Oregon being prominent. The only image where people are involved was in 1999 when I used a Nutcracker ballet with the inside greeting "dance with glee into the 21st century." I hope you will enjoy these photos and will be surrounded by those you love today.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Squirrel's Tough Life.

Winter has arrived In central Oregon after a late start or what appeared to be late. What do I know about it? I watch the skies, feel the wind and temperature and look out the window. When it's snowing then it's winter. Fortunately the snow has been a light powder, easy for shoveling. Snow shoveling definitely falls in that activity where the law of diminishing returns applies, somewhat like beer drinking. The first one tastes great, the fourth not so much. The first 15 minutes of shoveling gets the heart rate up. An hour into the job is plain old work and not fun anymore. This morning I got to watch one of the gray squirrels that inhabits our backyard and is a constant presence around the base of the bird feeders eating the remains of what the birds drop. His efforts to get at the bird seed were
acrobatic and quite humorous. He made several attempts to shinny up the pole, stretch out and gain a foothold on the feeder. Unsuccessful, he would slide down the pole and hop over to a tree to regain his strength then return for another go at it. I think he's fairly well-fed because he does really well when the snow is not around and I suppose he's got a stash
somewhere in the yard. I haven't any doubt that he'll be back tomorrow. He's supposed to survive on his own which appears he's doing nicely. Maybe I'll sweeten the pot and sprinkle some seeds on the ground. I won't expect any help from him with the shoveling though.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's December, where's the snow?

The days of fall linger on. A year ago there had been several snowstorms and winter was upon us and stayed until late March. This year is different and most everyone is pleased that winter is taking its sweet time getting here. The annual Metolius Tree Hunt sponsored by the Deschutes Land Trust was held in 50ยบ weather and one group of youngsters from a church youth group was heard singing carols as they carried out their tree.

I have yet to even start my holiday greeting cards although I have every intention of getting them done. After all I have a streak of 16 years going. I hung a few lights on the house, Diane found a nice tree and we decorated it, put up Allison's collection of Nutcrackers and called it done. Ho ho ho.

The Obama victory has given a little hope that the future will be better. I'm not one to go overboard and think that the ship of state will right itself any time soon. Mr. Lameduck Bush can't leave Washington fast enough.
There have been more layoffs in the newspaper industry, the Big 3 ask for bailouts, the stock market can't settle down, no one is buying anything and with Christmas a little more than two weeks away the spirit of the season is about as robust as the housing market.

I am not without some energy. In fact, I've completed a project that was long overdue. I began photographing Yosemite National Park in 1988 in advance of the 1990 centennial of this marvelous place. A book "Yosemite, A Landscape of Life" was published and I continued to shoot there for several more years. Yet, all the film, transparencies and digital files were not in a single location. A few of the best pictures had been digitally archived but the vast majority of the material was dormant. No longer. For the past month I've looked at every image and scanned the essence of a decade long project. It's a relief to know
where everything is. I've compiled a gallery on my website Viewing the images is about the same as reading a short story in a magazine or an in-depth article in your Sunday newspaper. People still read don't they?

Now, if I can just get excited about the holidays...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November, the month of change.

It's time for change and it's all around me. The presidential election was the finest example of a sophisticated democracy
and hope fills the air and airwaves as Obama's election is discussed endlessly. I keep wincing at the volatile stock market, the dismal decline of the newspaper industry, layoffs, corporate closings and pleas for the government to bail out the automakers.

It's all about the same thing, change, as in nothing will ever be quite the same again. It's now five weeks since my second knee replacement surgery and I could not be more satisfied with the progress and relative ease of the recovery. Visits to the physical therapist are over and progress from here on will be self-inflicted. Another change I'm ready to roll with.

Sisters, itself, is changing. For what passes as news here is the reconfiguration of an intersection in town and the opening of a new grocery store. The grand opening was today with a ribbon cutting, music and free French bread to customers. I stopped in to have a tour and overheard one man speaking to another, "I've seen more people I know in the last half hour than I've seen in the last month." You might think we're hard up for entertainment. Possibly true. There isn't any snow for skiing or other winter activities, cycling is essentially done and hiking, for those who can, is limited to the lower elevations.

The snowbirds are leaving in their fifth-wheels, motorhomes and trailers. The rest of us are figuring out what to do with the shortened days and longer nights. I took advantage today of semi-decent weather to get out of the house and explore. Twenty minutes east of town the desert sky brings a totally different perspective. On a warm and windy morning change is in the air.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Jay's website.

O.K. So what have I been up to since the last post? I've ventured into the rather mysterious world of website creation. Seeing an ad on some page somewhere for a DIY website application that didn't cost an arm and a leg ($30) I bit. In the process I learned about domain name registration, hosting, FTP uploads, some html, root folders, resizing QuickTime files and importing my PhotoShelter galleries. A couple of "help me!" calls to the site finally appeared. I know it's not the slickest, seamless and elegant site on the web, and there are some amazing sites. It's enough bang for the buck for now or until I acquire a ton more knowledge. Please have a look and thanks!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The importance of documentary photography

Colin Powell, on yesterday's "Meet The Press," endorsed Barack Obama to be President of the United States and referred to this photograph in his eloquent statement. More than just making an endorsement he rejected the "anti-Islamic" prejudice that pervades the negative campaign rhetoric.

Powell said, "I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo-essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in you can see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American, he was born in New Jersey, he was 14 at the time of 9/11 and he waited until he can go serve his country and he gave his life." Photograph for the New Yorker by Platon.

The editors at Vanity Fair have a gallery of what they consider to be the greatest "news" photographs ever made.One in the collection is this photo, left, from the Viet Nam wa by Nick Ut, Associated Press. The images are well worth seeing and contemplating their historical relevance. As with any list that attempts to define the "best of," there is plenty of room for debate. The real importance is that these images and many more like them are remembered and still being discussed. My top 25 list would include Alfred Eisenstaedt's image of the soldier kissing a nurse in Times Square, 1945, Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Gestapo Informer,"W. Eugene Smith's Minimata mother bathing her child,Stanley Forman's Pulitzer Prize image of a black man being stabbed by a white man with the American flag,, Dirck Halsted's photograph of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and the Challenger shuttle explosion.
What troubles me now is that the next great news photograph may not be seen. Given the plethora of on-line 24/7 news sites that change several times a day, blogs and other means of journalistic expression, it will be harder for new photographs to enter the general consciousness. Many newspaper websites now include "pictures of the day." There are also specific websites dedicated to showing great photojournalism. The trick is that you have to know where to go to see what's being done by the world's photojournalists. is one of the best. The Digital Journalist is the best site displaying work of photographers out in the field today. It's published monthly. Noteworthy in this month's issue is the work by Callie Shell on the campaign trail with Barack Obama. Should he win these images will take on an even greater historical value. When you think about the value of documentary photography consider the world without it.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A season of change

Central Oregon is well into the seasonal change of fall. Unlike many other regions of the country where deciduous forests show a rainbow of colors this area is limited to the yellows and reds and then only in a few locations. Yet the beauty is there especially when contrasted with the Ponderosa pines. Today I went out to find what I could since it will be my last outing for awhile. The orthopedic surgeon and I have a date tomorrow and he says he'll bring his "A" game for my knee reconstruction project. Back In June before the first surgery I went out to photograph the spring wildflower bloom so it made sense to me to get out for a shot at the fall colors. From Santiam Pass to the Metoilus River I found more than I expected. The peak hasn't arrived yet and is probably ten days away. By then I will be happy enough to simply get off the bed to walk around on the deck. I'm anxious to get on with the last of the surgeries and into a year of rehabilitation. I've had what I hoped for thus far: an unremarkable recovery. I'm expecting a repeat of that. By the time this country elects a new President, celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas I'll be quite mobile again and relieved to that the worst is finally behind me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Oregon coast

After Allison was settled at the University of Oregon Diane and I headed for the coast, two hours west. It was our first excursion that way and there wasn't enough time to see all the lighthouses, beaches and interesting towns so we selected to visit the Sea Lion Caves north of Florence, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse
and the magnificent Coast Aquarium in Newport, a fascinating exploration with fish and other marine life swimming around you as if you were fifty feet down in the Pacific. We stayed a couple of nights in Newport, hunkering
down to try and recover from the long process of getting Allison to school. We walked out to a bluff overlooking the Pacific and the seven-mile long Nye Beach. People strolled on the sand which I found visually interesting. We were glad to get home and have a week of completing some home tasks before I head back
to the St. Charles Medical center next Monday for my second knee reconstruction surgery.

As always, click on any image to see it full-size.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Allison begins her college life

The time between Allison's high school graduation in Sacramento, a rite of passage, and her enrollment at the University of Oregon, a larger rite, has gone fast. Not fast enough for her, however, as her last days in Sisters seemed endless. Diane and I were prepared (as in weeks of preparation) and anxious for her to finally get to the campus and settled in her dorm room in Eugene. We are melancholy watching her leave home this time. It's not that we've not been down this road before as Allison has always split her time with us and her birth-mom in Sacramento. This time is different. Allison will not be living in Sacramento or Sisters. There are lumps in our throats as we ferried her things from the car to her third-floor room in the LLC (Living-Learning Center) which is across the street from Hayward Field, the iconic track and field venue. She and Diane unpack boxes and arrange he clothes in the small wardrobe. My job is to get the computer and t.v. functioning (and to make some photos of the event). Her roommate, Alesa, from nearby Springfield, is already setting up her side of the room. With the situation basically in hand we leave for the rest of the afternoon, drive to our hotel and collapse on the beds. Moving day is wearing, plain and simple.

Our plan to meet for dinner in the dining commons doesn't happen because 5,000 other kids and parents have the same idea. Our last meal together until Thanksgiving is deli sandwiches. We will see Allison once more before we leave Eugene and head further west for a few days on the coast before returning to Sisters. In my head I am still going through the years of memories: elementary school plays, ballet classes and Nutcracker performances, soccer, piano, camping, and a trip to England in 2003. I let myself go back even further to first bike rides, first day of school, a skiing accident resulting in a broken elbow, and several "brave girl dresses" she earned for enduring some of the most unpleasant days of her life. Then there is moment Allison, at age three, gets her first doll, a Christmas gift beautifully wrapped in a big box. The doll cries and it's eyes blink when it's moved. Allison has the box in her arms and waves it around and the cry is audible within the box. Her nose and eyes squish together and she innocently asks, "How a box could cry?" The question tonight is "how a Dad could cry." There is no loss here to mourn, rather a great success. It's a quiet moment of reverie as I contemplate Allison's transition into adulthood. I'm proud to shed that tear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McKenzie Pass

A guy can have small dreams, right? Today I realized one of mine. Since my first total knee replacement surgery June 23rd I've worked hard to follow the rehabilitation plan. Two months of physical therapy, lots of painful stretching, and a slow and steady return to a point when I could get on the bike and ride. At first it was just 3-mile laps around the
neighborhood, then my basic 18-mile loop and then moving on to 25-30 mile rides. In the back of my mind since day one was the plan to ride McKenzie Pass between the first and second surgeries. Initially I thought I'd never get there since my endurance was reduced to squat. Over the past few weeks, however, I've become a little stronger and today accompanied by a friend, Doug Smith, we did the ride up the pass from Sisters, 15 miles of 6%-7% grade to the summit with 2500' of elevation gain. Tonight I'm beat and upbeat. I won't have to mull over the "what if" scenario in my head all winter. I'm not a fan of self-congratulation so this post is somewhat abnormal. Just once though, I just need to hoot and holler. And, yes, I did wear a helmet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fires everywhere

Today the whole world seems to be on fire. Financial institutions are collapsing like a house of cards, the stock market is free falling, the news out of McClatchy Newspapers is more grim by the day and after a relatively calm summer, forest fires in Oregon are blazing away. Fortunately, in my neck of the woods, so much has burned over the past few seasons, that the risk is low for imminent danger. A fire to the south, in the Crescent Lake region, is impacting this area with drifting smoke.

Allison and I went out this afternoon to see if there might be a photo to summarize what's happening. She insisted on driving up Three Creeks Road to s spot we have visited often for the spectacular view of Whychus Creek Canyon and the Three Sisters. I hesitated thinking the effort wouldn't be worth the effort. Once there the magic happened and I, once again, am reminded of serendipity. Thanks, Allison.

Over the past few days former colleagues have told me of people missing from the list. I've added them to the long list, now 81 former journalists who worked at the Sacramento Bee. I hope that anyone with other folks will let me know so I can add them as well (scroll down to the previous post to view the updated list). My intention is that no one will be left out and that on my blog, if nowhere else, they will all be named and remembered.

The news out of Sacramento continues to sound like a eulogy for an industry in demise. Perhaps it's changing for the better. I would like to believe that not only individuals but an institution like the 4th Estate can be reincarnated. Sometime down the road this evolution of how news is gathered, reported and paid for will be understood. For now, however, it's a tale of how quickly and tightly the wagons can be circled. I trust that my former co-workers and friends still inside that circle will find some job security and professional fulfillment in an ever-changing environment and for those who are now free to do whatever comes next in their lives, godspeed and good luck. The fires are raging and survival is "Job 1."

Friday, September 12, 2008

The demise of quality local journalism in Sacramento.

Photograph by Jay Mather

Sacramento Bee cuts work force another 7%
By Dale Kasler -

Under continued pressure to reduce costs, The Bee cut its work force on Wednesday by another 7 percent, this time through voluntary buyouts.

The Bee said 87 full- and part-time employees accepted a buyout offer that followed a previous round of layoffs and attrition in June that shrank the staff by 8 percent.

The buyouts went to 23 newsroom employees.

It wasn't clear whether that's the end of the staff cuts. At the time buyouts were offered, Publisher and President Cheryl Dell said more layoffs were possible if there weren't enough takers.

She said on Wednesday the paper won't know for a couple of weeks if the buyouts did the trick.

"I know there's anxiety with not having an answer today," she said.

The newspaper industry has been hobbled by the economic slump and competition from the Internet, prompting layoffs at almost every chain.

The facts of the story don't tell the whole story. No one who is leaving the place where they poured their heart and soul into is named. It is those people with their own lives, families, problems and promises for a better future who need to be recognized for what they did to make Sacramento a fine place to live and be informed about the world around them. David Barton compiled most of the list and I added several more. Most of these journalists, including three Pulitzer Prize recipients, worked decades at the Bee and none would have imagined their careers ending or being drastically altered in the free fall that the newspaper industry is enduring. I worked with virtually everyone on this list at some point in my 20 years at the Bee. The names include those who have left in the past few years or so. Good luck my friends.

Mike Dunne
Janet Fullwood
Pat Rubin
Dorothy Korber
Deb Kollars
Bruce Dancis
Sarah Williams
Dan Vierra
David Favrot
Lori Richardson
Bob Sylva
Greg Endicott
Kevin McKenna
Gwen Schoen
Art Campos
Lakiesha McGhee
Milt Whaley
Ramon Coronado
Edgar Sanchez
Barbara Stubbs
Lisa Elizondo
Matt Carroll
Angie Pappas
Mark Billingsley
Matt Boudourian
Gerri Boutrarye
Janice Coleman
Fahizah Alim
Mareva Brown
Alison ApRoberts
Ralph Montano
Lisa Heyamoto
Dan Nguyen
Cameron Jahn
Christina Jewett
Kevin German
Todd Milbourn
Erica Chavez
John Hughes
Dorsey Griffith
Elizabeth Hume
Crystal Carreon
Nancy Weaver Teichert
Jocelyn Weiner
Pamela Martineau
John Williams
Edie Lau
Walt Wiley
Owen Brewer
Cynthia Craft
Judy Lin
Tom Philp
Steve Gibson
Gwendolyn Trump
Pauline Haynes
Mark Kreidler
Maria Henson
Stuart Drown
R.E. Graswich
Becky Boyd
Patricia Beach Smith
Gary Delsohn
Jim Richardson
Alexa Bluth
Clint Swett
Rick Rodriguez
David Barton
Laura Mecoy
Erhardt Krause
Amy Eckert
Emily Bazar
John Decker
Dick Schmidt
Claire Cooper
Molly Dugan
Dick Gilmore
Rasmi Simhan
Jim Jenkins
Herb Sample
Thuy-Doan Le
Jay Mather

Monday, September 08, 2008

Summer Wine

Long afternoons, sun filtering through the pines, the birds still flock to the feeders. I enjoy a glass of wine and notice the light reflecting through the stem of the glass, more enjoyable at this moment than drinking the so-so Zinfandel. This is the sweet spot of summer, just for a moment.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Change in the air

There is a twinge of Fall in the air around here, Labor Day weekend. The Chamber of Commerce likes to say how many days of sunshine there are each year; they are less inclined to say how many days a year residents wear fleece. For me, it absolutely beats dealing with heat and/or humidity.
This September Allison will begin her college
years at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Big change. For her and us. She has been working at the Suttle Lake resort this summer and has a couple of weeks left before packing up for the transition to life in a campus residence hall. The resort held a 50's party complete with vintage cars, an "oldies" band and a barbecue.
We went for the evening, partied a little, watched a sunset and called it good. Allison spends her off hours on the computer talking to her old high school friends about their various plans for fall and has already made friends who are entering O.U. Connectivity is everything for her.
I have a five week grace period before the second knee surgery. This is a timely gift. I'll get to help Allison move to Eugene, enjoy some riding time and potentially, take a trip to the Oregon coast. Downtime before the other "down" time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The nearly five-week absence of a an updated post to my blog was essentially because I felt I had nothing of any particular interest to write about or photograph. I did not want the blog to become a progress report on my knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation. At the outset I hope for an unremarkable recovery and that it has been. Physical therapy is done for now and I continue to work out at the Sisters Athletic Club and have returned to moderate cycling. Moderate is all I can manage since my endurance was used in recovery. Knee replacement surgery is a tough road and takes time. I'm now at 2 months and the progress will go on for a year. The second round is set for October 7th which means I should be feeling really good by early December. So, that's it in a nutshell.
While I did nothing more than workout, ice the knee and sleep a lot, we had a great water feature installed in the backyard. Diane and I sit out on the deck now more than ever and last night we both saw the face in the tree looking back at us. We had never noticed it before and now it's as clear as can be. Like the Man-In-The-Moon or the face of Tis-sa-ack on Half Dome in Yosemite, once you see it it is there forever. I take the first sighting as a small sign that everything is proceeding as it is supposed to in my life. I used the phrase "understanding the space between the leaves" as a way to learn patience. The rehabilitation from surgery has been a daily challenge to be patient. I can't make the recovery go any faster than my body will allow. The tree and I will have a lot more face time in the next few months.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Winning and remembering

Matt Wilson outsprints Tom Wilson at the end of Stage 2 of the Cascade Cycling Classic. His victory in the 80-mile road race from Bend to the finish at the Three Creeks Sno-Park, eleven miles up a steep climb from Sisters was bittersweet, however, as he constantly thought about his teammate Ben Brooks who was critically injured in a crash during the first stage on Wednesday. Motivation often comes with a backstory. Wilson and Brooks are long-time friends, training partners and teammates from Australia. After the race Wilson went directly to the hospital in Bend to see his friend. For me, the race was an opportunity to get out of the house and attempt to maneuver with the walker and a couple of cameras. It was strange to cover an event albeit with self-imposed restrictions. There wasn't a lot of running around after the race to find a nice moment. I am just grateful to be out and making the attempt to get back to normalcy.