Archive for July, 2010

Wowsers, what a week.  Some good (got back into my exercise groove with back-to-back evening runs with Shane), some bad (rough day at the office and I think I officially became ‘the girl that cries at work’ this afternoon…), and all of it very, very tiring.  T.G.I.F…  I need a recharge.  Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, maybe going for a morning jog down by the lake, taking in a movie with Shane, pulling my sketchbook out after a month-long art-making hiatus, hangin’ with some girlfriends tomorrow night – Saturdays are bliss.

You know what else is bliss?  The beets coming from our garden (how’s that for a segue?!).  They are finally ripe for the pickin’ and I am in root vegetable heaven.  Tonight I sliced a couple up, sauteed them in a little olive oil, then topped them with goat cheese crumbles and toasted walnuts.  Yep, it was every bit as delicious as it sounds.  Paired with a glass of Riesling and the Giants vs. Dodgers game on TV, and I was ready to leave this week behind me and embrace the chance to take a breather and relax.  T.G.I.F. (did I already say that?).

We realized recently that we were due for a getaway with our good friends Jack and La Verne – we did Walla Walla together a couple of years ago, met up in Portugal during our European vacation last year, and, in keeping with our common interest in delicious food and good wine, picked Portland as our 2010 destination.  We checked into our cozy little backyard cottage rental near Mount Tabor on Friday night and kicked off our epic weekend with drinks and nibbles at The Whiskey Soda Lounge.  We had hoped to score a table at Pok Pok, but given the 2-hour wait, this place was a perfect alternative, owned by the same owners of Pok Pok and offering much of the same food.  Good food, good drinks, good ambiance, good conversation – the night was good.

Saturday began with coffee at Barista – reputed to be one of Portland’s finest coffee shops.  I went with the standard latte (although it was much better than ‘standard’), but Jack pulled out the big guns and ordered a cup of their specialty vacuum pot coffee.  Watching the barista brew this cup of coffee was like taking part in a chemistry experiment – I couldn’t begin to explain the entire process, but I can tell you that these people take their coffee seriously.

Post-caffeine fix, we headed over to the Portland Farmers Market to pick up the fixin’s for an afternoon picnic.  This market is a-mazing.  Row after row of brightly colored berries, mouth-watering baked goods, artisan cheeses, yum, yum, yum…

We walked away with a bag full of goodies and pointed the car south – destination: wine country!  The region just south of Portland is home to some of the Northwest’s most beautiful vineyards, and we spent the afternoon sipping some fantastic Pinot Noirs amidst the rolling hills of vines.

We headed back into the city late afternoon and spent some time just lounging on the grass at a nice little part in Northwest Portland, people-watching, sun-soaking, and building up our hunger for our much-anticipated dinner at Tanuki.  This tiny little restaurant, tucked away among all the other storefronts on NW 21st, doesn’t look like anything special from the outside.  In fact, even after a round of drinks and happy hour appetizers, I was not overly impressed.  Then we ordered our dinner (actually, we didn’t really even ‘order’ dinner – we just told our server what we wanted to spend as a group and asked her to bring us a compilation of things that would fit that bill).  And then the food started coming.  And coming.  And coming.  She must have brought us 12 to 15 different plates, from Unagi to quail eggs to Chinese sausage, to a whole slew of things that I didn’t recognize, but readily ate.  We finally had to ask our server to just stop bringing us food – otherwise, we were in danger of not fitting out the door.  That was a meal.

We ended the evening with drinks with Mitch at Crowbar on Mississippi – wonderfully chill, after such a full day.  I fell into bed that night with a perfection-induced smile on my face.

Jack and La V headed back to Seattle early this morning, and Shane and I stuck around for awhile to spend some time with my brother and his family.  Elise is turning into such a beautiful little girl, full of new questions and new expressions.  She still adores her Uncle Shane – while running around at the playground, she bonked her head and began to cry.  She ran right past everyone’s offers to comfort her and right into Shane’s lap, gazing up at him with that irresistible little smile through her tears.  Precious.

And far too soon, it was time to hop back in the car and head back to Seattle.  Au revoir, weekend…

Shane and I pointed our car eastward on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend at Lake Chelan, cheering on Jack in his Half-Iron Man and celebrating Jason’s big 30th birthday.  Nancy had scored a deal on a great condo overlooking the lake, with plenty of space of for all of us to crash.  I’m always a little taken aback by the landscape once we get past the mountains and arrive in Eastern Washington – shades of green are replaced by shades of gold and brown, and the sun has an intensity to it that you just don’t feel in Seattle.  But with a nice cool lake just a short walk away, and a fridge full of cold beers, I thought, “Bring on the heat!”  I was ready for my dose of Vitamin D.  Luckily, we had a small patio that was perfect for lounging in the sun – many hours were spent in a lawn chair here, looking out toward the lake, reading, chatting, laughing, and eating.

I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning to head down to the lake to cheer Jack on as he finished his 1.2-mile swim and transitioned into his 56-mile bike ride.  It was a beautiful morning, and exciting to watch the swimmers emerge from the water to run toward their bikes – felt kind of like a Baywatch episode, but with full-coverage wetsuits.  Jack finished his swim like a champ, and was off on his bike in no time.

As Jack was biking, Shane, La V, and Jason were all running in the Chelan 10k.  Here’s the crew pre-race – you can see that J has his serious game face on…

A remarkably short time later, Nancy and I stood at the finish line and cheered on our runners as they each breezed past us.  I love my friends, but they sure can make me feel lazy!  What a bunch of studs.  This picture of La V is great – like she’s saying, ‘Yeah, I just ran 6.2 miles.  Ain’t no thang.’

During all of this, Jack was still biking, on his way to transitioning into his 13.1-mile run.  Incredible.  A couple of hours later, we were all back at the finish line, waiting for our all-star to round the corner and complete the journey that he’s been on for months, with countless hours logged in preparation for this moment.  I think all of our chests swelled up with pride as he gave us a wave on his way to the finish, and we said to ourselves, “Wow, I actually know that stud!”

I figured Jack would want to spend the afternoon stretched out on the couch with an ice pack and a tall glass of water, but, true to Jack form, he had other plans.  Just a short while after his race was done, Jack was driving us out to the nearby wineries do some tastings (to ‘rehydrate’, of course).  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – this is the same guy that convinced Shane it would be a good idea to pop over to a Mercer Island winery to do some wine tasting in the middle of one of their first really long bike rides (just to ‘rest their legs’, of course)…

The rest of the day was perfectly chill, spent grilling out on the back porch, playing games, and welcoming Brian and Nicole, who arrived at the condo late that night, to say a farewell to us all on their way to Colorado.  Sunday was Lake Day – we staked a claim on a perfect patch of grass right near the shore, spread out our beach towels, and spent a couple of hours alternating between sun-bathing and swimming.

Shane was thrilled to spend some quality time with his best bud, G-man.

And I have to say, you are never too old for a good ‘group jump’ into the water.  (Photos by Daniel Lee).  Shane is still living down the fact that he completely bailed on us (that’s him, standing lamely on the dock while the rest of us launched ourselves into the water)…

Post-lake, we had time for one more Little-League-esque group shot of our athletes, and then it was time to head back west, toward taller buildings and cloudier skies.  This was a tough place to leave behind!

Thursday was our last full day in Banff, and since our legs were still slightly weary from the previous day’s hike, we decided to get in the car and do some sightseeing along the Icefields Parkway.  Our first stop along the way was Peyto Lake – as we made the short-but-steep climb up to this vista, I started to huff and muttered to myself, “I hope this is worth it…”  And…duuuuuude!  Now this is a view.  ‘Nuff said.

Peyto Lake was impossible to top, but we made several other stops along the way, hopping out of the car to snap a few photos or skip a few rocks.

We spent the afternoon at Lake Moraine, drinking in the view of more turquoise water from our little rented canoe.

And one final quiet evening at the campsite – Shane polished off the rest of our screwcap wine while I kept the fire stoked, and we thought to ourselves, “This was just what we needed.”

On Friday morning, we made one last stop at Lake Louise on our way out of town, knowing that it could be a very long time before we came across anything this beautiful again.  *Sigh*.

The drive home was loooong, but we made it back to Seattle in one piece on Friday night, eager to wash the smell of campfire out of our hair and sleep in our own comfy bed.  And with that, our week in the great outdoors was behind us.  *Double sigh*…

From the second we hit the outskirts of Banff National Park on Tuesday evening, I knew we were in for something special – the rugged, snow-capped peaks set against the blue, blue sky were stunning.  But that first glimpse was just the tip of the iceberg (I know, I just can’t stop with the bad puns!), because we were in for so much more than we’d even hoped for.  Our campsite was just 4 km from Lake Louise, so we were up-and-at-em Wednesday morning for a nice long hike around the edge of the lake and then up through the mountains to the Plain of Six Glaciers.  I’ve heard stories about the indescribable color of Lake Louise, and it’s true, I’ve never seen anything like it.  The glacial deposits in the water give it this deep aqua tint that makes you think you’re in the Caribbean, until you look up and see that you’re surrounded by glaciers.  The pictures really don’t do it justice…  After drinking in the beauty of the lake, we set off on our hike, which began with a nice little stroll along the shore.

Then we climbed…

And climbed…

And decided to stop for photos of each other while we were both still smiling…

Climbed some more, and voila!  Victory!  4.2 miles later, we had reached our destination, where we each flopped down on a nice flat rock and sighed a big fat sigh of satisfied pride.  The view was stunning, the air was perfectly crisp and fresh, the deep blue sky was strewn with puffy white clouds, and I think we each said a silent thank you to God for being so amazingly talented.

After catching our breath, we picked ourselves up and made our way down the mountain in record time, stopping at the bottom to get a good look at the way the change in the sun’s angle had altered the color of the lake.

Our aching feet told us we’d earned the right to forsake our cold cuts on wheat bread for burgers and fries in downtown Banff.  And I will not apologize for eating out while camping, ’cause those sweet potato fries were gooood.  The rest of the evening was spent lounging around the campsite, reading, popping open a bottle of screw-cap wine, and keeping the fire stoked.  And I was convinced, we just might be onto something with this whole camping thing…

Shane and I embarked on Monday on our first-ever solo camping trip – we were up before dawn that morning to pile our tent, sleeping bags, and various essentials into our trusty Civic, and by 5 a.m. we were headed east, excited by the prospect of five full days in the great outdoors. Our first destination was Glacier National Park, where we would camp for night on Lake McDonald, followed by three nights in Canada’s Banff National Park.  I camped a lot as a kid (some of my earliest memories are of sitting by the campfire, watching my mom cook up whatever fish my dad caught in the river that day), and Shane and I have gone on several weekend camping trips with groups of friends over the past few years, but this was the first time we were doing it on our own.  This made me the slightest bit anxious for two reasons:  1) When I found I forgot something (and it’s inevitable that you will forget something when packing for a camping trip), I couldn’t just shout out, “Hey, did someone bring ___???” and hope for an affirmative response, and 2) It’s easy and fun to sit around a campfire all evening and tell stories with a big group of friends, but were Shane and I really up for the task of keeping each other entertained for five solid days?   Fortunately, 1) It turned out I hadn’t forgotten anything that couldn’t be picked up at the little market near camp, and 2) Shane and I are actually pretty entertaining people.  Go figure.

Anyhow, after a long drive, we arrived at our campsite Monday afternoon, tired but eager to set up camp and then explore the sights.  Sadly, just as we began to unpack our tent, raindrops started to fall, and though it never poured, it sprinkled on and off throughout the evening. Thankfully, it was still dry enough for us to have a fire, so we warmed ourselves by the flames while we munched on grilled corn on the cob and bratwursts, followed by s’mores.  Turned out to be a pretty decent night after all…

We awoke Tuesday morning to the sound of birds chirping, and I could tell from the glow of the roof of our nylon tent that the rain had passed and we were in for a beautiful day.  After a short walk down to Lake McDonald to take in the sparkling water, we packed up camp and hit the road once again.

We had decided to take the scenic route up to Banff, via ‘Going-to-the-Sun-Road’ – 53 miles of winding, mountainous glory.  It was an amazing drive, and we ooh-ed and ahh-ed all along the way, from the rolling green hills up to the snow-capped glaciers.  Thank God Shane was driving, because there’s no way I could have kept my eyes on the road with sights like this around every bend!

Our first big encounter with Glacier National Park wildlife:  this guy was just chillin’ by the side of the road, nodding his head to the cars as they passed.  Awesome.

And with one final gander at the beauty of Glacier, we were off to Banff, wondering if Canada’s mountains could top what we’d seen in Montana.  Stay tuned to find out if they did!  (How’s that for a cliff-hanger?!)

These are a few of my newer favorites, hung as part of the show.  The general theme was ‘mixing media’, as I have completely fallen in love the way that encaustics allow me to use everything from my photographs to bits of fabric to old maps from the glove compartment in new and interesting ways.

Note that my next exercise will be in learning how to properly photograph art, but these should give you the jest of things…

pdx, 24″x36″, mixed media encaustic (map on tissue paper, painted nylon netting, photo transfer of trees):

mountain creek, 16″x16″, mixed media encaustic (nylon netting, photo transfer of trees):

rue st martin, 12″x16″, mixed media encaustic (nylon netting, photo transfer of parisian rooftops):

porto, 36″x24″, mixed media encaustic (painted nylon netting, photo transfer of bridge and screen wall):

Eeek – it’s been awhile!  Life has been a whirlwind the last 10 days, with a faux wedding to throw (more on that later), lots of goings-on with friends and neighbors, and, finally, the opening of my art show on July 1st.  My weeks of planning and working and art-ing all came to fruition on Thursday night, as I gathered with some of our closest friends to share the collection I’d put so much of my time and heart into. And it was perfect.  I’d held back on making a big deal out of the event, based on my own fears and insecurities, but when Shane and I arrived at the cafe on Wednesday evening to hang my work, and the barista asked, “Oh, are you the artist?”, I actually got to respond with an emphatic, “Yes!”, and was suddenly eager to share my work with anyone willing to take a look.  I’m embracing and living up to the title of ‘Artist’, no longer calling myself a wanna-be, or a poser, or just ‘pretending’ like the work I do qualifies as art.  This has become a part of who I am, what I do, and how I relate to people.  Being in a room surrounded by 15 pieces of my art was an amazing feeling.  But what made the night infinitely more special was being able to share it all with our Seattle community – the cafe was filled with people that have encouraged me, cheered me on, and reminded me that creativity is most beautiful when it is freely shared.

Huuuuuuge thanks to everyone who came out – it was an evening I will never ever forget…