Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

Good news!

We saw the sun in Oregon this week.  Several times.  And it was glorious.  I was inspired to get out and walk, walk, walk.  That is always good news.  Even better, I just started a new online photography class and although I’m still using my tiny point and shoot camera, it’s been so much fun to once again slow down and wait for the every day magic to appear.   One of our lessons this week was exploring what photographers call the “magic hour”.  That’s the hour right around sunrise and sunset, when the light practically glows and photographers capture their best shots.

So off I went, less than ten minutes from the house, to see what my camera and I could find.  We were not disappointed.


Apple bar in the warm glow of sunset


Sunset through the old walnut orchard


Magic hour at the farm


Tranquility just three miles from my townhouse


These were taken in the morning light.  The ducks put on a show.


Duck Yoga


Mamma Duck

What a beautiful reminder to stop and experience the beauty of every sunset and sunrise.  And, since it’s almost Spring, take time to smell the roses that will be blooming before you know it.

Life is full of magical moments.  I’m so happy I could share a few of my favorites with you.




Beautiful British Columbia ~ Birds, Bees & Buddha in the Backyard

Earlier this year I took Tammy Strobel’s Everyday Magic photography class.  I’m not sure how much my camera skills improved and I still use a tiny digital point & shoot, but I did learn to slow down and take the time to really see (and sometimes capture) the beauty and the magic all around me.

Last week we were enjoying a home exchange in beautiful British Columbia on Vancouver Island.  I had to work, so I set up my office in the sun room/den that overlooked the lush back garden.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was immediately struck by all of the backyard birds.  Since I was chained to the desk for several hours each day and it was a very slow work week, I challenged myself to work on my bird photos.  Trust me, it’s not that easy.  Those little guys flit around so quickly that at first all I had were blurs, bird tails and photos of empty branches.  They heard my camera and were gone.  I was determined!  I took hundreds of shots.  Every morning and late afternoon I lay in wait behind the curtains.  Camera at the ready.  Eventually, I managed to take a few photos that weren’t too bad and, by the end of the week, I felt like I knew these guys personally.

Here are some of my favorites from the backyard.

birds6 E birdsusethis bees birds4 birds3 birdslast2 budda birds10

And one early morning shot of Sidney harbor.


What a wonderful reminder that there truly is magic in the everyday moments.  You just have to remember to slow down and watch for it.





Oregon ~ Everyday Magic

Earlier this year I took a photography class called Everyday Magic.  In the class, Tammy Strobel encouraged us to use our camera as a way to practice gratitude and to notice the beautiful details in our everyday lives.  Living in Oregon makes it very easy to capture that magic.  It’s everywhere you look.  And I am grateful.

Iconic view of Portland Riverfront

Iconic view of Portland Riverfront

Clouds lifting over the Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge. Watching the clouds lift.

Early morning mist - Wheeler, Oregon

Early morning in Wheeler, Oregon

winter in the vineyard

winter in the vineyard

Savoring a moment in the sun

Savoring a moment in the Spring sunshine. Portland State University


Our handsome new neighbor. Met him on my morning walk.

Cougar Dam

Cougar Dam

Silver thaw - frozen fog turns to ice on the trees.

Silver thaw – frozen fog turns to ice on the trees.


Oregon – things really do look different here.  Come for a visit.


Hanging with Oprah ~

RISK ~ That’s my word for 2013 and as I said, I’m going for it. Damn the torpedoes and all that.

I decided to jump right in and sign up for not one but two creative classes.  They are online and they are both fabulous.  Great inspiration, ideas I can put to use immediately and daily and weekly projects that are already moving me out of my comfort zone.   I’m loving every minute.  Old dog + new tricks = grand new adventures!

One of my goals for 2013 is to step into the blogging world in a whole new way.  I’ve got some big plans to hatch and lots of work to do.  I am excited to go down this path wherever it leads.

Everyday Magic is a photography class led by blogger, photographer and creative living inspiration, Tammy Strobel.  Tammy and my classmates from all over the world are helping me see the magic in so many of the everyday moments I have overlooked or taken for granted as I rushed through my days.  It is just so darned cool.

The second class is called Juicy Blogging with writer, editor and blogging pro, Britt Bravo.  I just started a couple of days ago and I have already learned and tried so many new ideas I am about to burst with enthusiasm.  I know I will be much better blogger as I begin to share our Just a Backpack adventures with a larger audience.

Both classes have daily lessons.  Today at Everyday Magic our theme was  “A Day in the Life”.   Britt’s writing assignment was to do a blog post that contained mostly photos.  Sounded like the makings of a fun blog post to me.

Here’s how it played out…

Oprah was waiting for me when I opened the mailbox

Oprah was waiting for me when I opened the mailbox so we decided to go on an adventure together.  (well I decided)

Driving Ms. Oprah

Driving Ms. Oprah.

Lunch?  Of course.  We both had the apple/goat cheese salad

Lunch?  Why yes.   We both had the apple/goat cheese salad. 

Quick trip downtown to Union Station for a pickup.  Oprah was dash-surfing for a better look

A quick trip downtown to Union Station to pick up a friend.  Oprah rode on the dash to catch a better view.

Even Oprah loves a good sale.  Me too!

Oprah loves a good sale.  Me too!

See's chocolate?  Why yes, let's get a 1 pound box and eat it on the drive home

See’s chocolate? Of course!  Let’s get a one pound box and eat it on the drive home.

Perfect ending to a perfect day.  Starbucks, tea, chocolate and a little bit of Oprah wisdom.  It was my Oprah Aha Moment.

Perfect ending to a perfect day. Starbucks, tea, chocolate and a little bit of Oprah wisdom. It was my very own Oprah Ahhh! Moment.

These classes are gifts I gave to myself.  They fit me perfectly and have already brought me hours of joy.   New sweater?   Don’t really need one.  Meeting new people and making a few synapses fly in my brain?  Now that’s a gift that will last a lifetime.

What gifts have you given yourself lately?  If not…what are you waiting for?   You deserve it.  Just like me.