Tag Archives: Portland

Portland’s Japanese Garden

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I don’t think yesterday could have been more beautiful…but that’s how autumn days are in Portland. Beautiful.  The temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees and the sun was shining like a beacon of love from the sky, its warmth caressing me as I strolled through the Japanese gardens.

We drove out to Washington park and took the shuttle up the mini-mountain to the Japanese garden. The roads were under construction, so we had to take a long hike up a straight hill.  There was bamboo art scattered along the path that was created by Jiro Tonezawa, Shigeo Kawashima, Charissa Brock and Anne Crumbacker.  All magnificent.

When we entered the front gate, John noticed a sign that advertised free tours.  I preferred to see the garden without a tour guide, so we agreed on a meeting place and time, and went our separate ways. My friend called while we were there, and I  described everything to him as I strolled through the gorgeous grounds.

The koi in this video are worth upward from $1000 each!  A few winters ago, when we had a deep freeze, most of the garden’s koi were killed from lack of oxygen when the top of their habitat froze.  Garden administrators investigated the problem and learned that by digging their habitat 3′ deeper, enough oxygen would exist to sustain future schools of fish, so now, I think they’re safe. Each one looked like its own little work of art.

I have a beautiful picture of my husband in Japan , meditating in front of one of the famous raked stone gardens there.  This one, he said, looked very much like that one.

This is a stone bench in a simple Japanese tea house.  John had my wide angle lens, so I couldn’t get a shot of the entire house.

The prevailing sound at the garden was the sound of falling water.

The roof ornament at the peak of the teahouse roof.

The garden is set deep inside a beautiful forest.  It is quiet there…serene.  Peaceful.

A Japanese Jizo – protector of travelers, animals and children. I once did an entire installation of jizo art.

Portland artist, Anne Crumpacker, whose work is shown in the next photo, interweaves scale and proportion to create living topographies. She has created a magical bamboo and wooden boat that references the 11th century classic, Ukefune, The Floating Boat.

If I’m not mistaken, this one is by Chrissa Brock, but it, too, might be one of Crumpacker’s pieces.  I will find out and make the correction at a later date.  The piece below was along the path through the forest and up the steep incline on the way to the garden.

The following (amazing) woven ball is by Shigeo KawaShima.

The following view was the only hint of civilization beyond the forest-sheltered garden.  Mt. Hood rose up to the sky behind our city center, and I felt grateful, when I saw it, to be alive.

I love living in Portland.

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How Not to Die

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I am very excited to announce the long-awaited book by my nutrition guru, Dr. Michael Greger.  Folks, this is a revolutionary breakthrough in medical research that will blow your minds!  Pick up a copy by visiting NutritionFacts.org.   This is the book that will change your life forever.  Would make a great holiday gift as well!

Are you Depressed?

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In my opinion,  psychiatrists should first test their patients for nutritional deficiencies before writing prescriptions for Zoloftor for  antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.  Conscientious doctors send patients to get lab work done prior to prescribing drugs or increasing dosages.  There are times when people do need antidepressants.   However,  other times  spinach would go far to eliminate the symptoms of depression.   Think Popeye.

If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. Supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back  by not having to see your psychiatrist as often. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re on prescription drugs.

 

Vitamin D

According to my doctor, Vitamin D deficiency is a major epidemic that doctors and public health officials are just beginning to realize. This deficiency has been linked to depression, dementia, and autism. Most of our levels drop off during the fall and winter months, since sunlight is the richest source.   My doctor believes that we should be getting from 5,000 to 10,000 IU  a day.  However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends most healthy adults get only about 600 IUs daily.  Hence, the widespread deficiency and increases in depression.

Magnesium

I am forever extolling the virtues of Magnesium, because this, like Vitamin D, is deficient in most American adults, according to my doctor, and the symptoms are not pretty.  They can, in fact, set off a chain reaction of unpleasant symptoms. Our lifestyles decrease our levels of Magnesium.  Some of the things that contribute are excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid (in soda), chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics (water pills). Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote, the “most powerful relaxation mineral that exists,” according to Hyman. It is found in seaweed, greens, and beans. The NIH recommends a daily intake of about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women.  Magnesium Citrate can also act as a laxative, so buy your Magnesium accordingly….and time it well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you just how much fish — salmon, tuna, halibut — or flaxseeds and walnuts we need to consume to be at an optimal level. These essential minerals reduce inflammation and play a critical role in brain function, especially memory and mood. The body can’t make them, so you need to either eat them or take supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are just one of the supplements I take every day for depression

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, including reduced stroke risk and healthy skin and nails. On the other hand, a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

The best sources of vitamin B-6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin B-6, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1.7 mg for adult men, and 1.5 mg for adult women. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk) and shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and crab. Most adults should need to consume 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 daily, according to the NIH.

Folate

People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with high folate levels have a response of 44 percent, according to Hyman. That is why many psychiatrists are now prescribing a folate called Deplin to treat depression and improve the effectiveness of an antidepressant. I tried it and it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference; however, I have several friends who have had very positive responses to Deplin. You need not try the prescription form of Deplin. You could just start taking a folate supplement and see if you get any results. Your daily recommended folate intake depends on your gender, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and age. However, most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folate requirements by consuming foods high in folate, including dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits and juices.

 Amino Acids

Amino acids — the building blocks of protein — help your brain properly function. A deficiency in amino acids may cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, unfocused, and depressed. Good sources of amino acids include beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 Iron

Iron deficiency is pretty common in women. About 20 percent of women, and 50 percent of pregnant women, are in the club. Only three percent of men are iron deficient. The most common form of anemia — an insufficient number of red blood cells — is caused by iron deficiency. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet, according to the NIH. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, and poultry. If you really want to get more red blood cells, eat liver. Yuck.

 Zinc

This one is SO important!  Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It is crucial to many of our systems. It activates our digestive enzymes so that we can break down our food, and works to prevent food allergies (which, in turn, averts depression in some people, since some of our mood disruptions are triggered by food allergies). It also helps our DNA to repair and produce proteins. Finally, zinc helps control inflammation and boosts our immune system. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.

 Selenium

Like iodine, selenium is important for good thyroid function. It assists the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps one of our important antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) keep polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes from getting oxidized (rancid). Most adults need about 55 mcg of selenium daily. The best food source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contains about 544 mcg of selenium per ounce.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can be a big problem because iodine is critical for the thyroid to work as it should, and the thyroid affects more than you think: your energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain performance (concentration, memory, and more). When it’s not functioning properly, you can feel very depressed, among other things. You can get iodine by using an iodine-enriched salt, or by eating dried seaweed, shrimp, or cod. I take a kelp supplement every morning because I have hypothyroidism. The daily recommend amount of iodine for most adults is about 150 mcg.

Oatmeal, anyone? An Evening with Ottmar Liebert

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When my daughter was small, she would refer to Flamenco guitarist, Ottmar Liebert as “Oatmeal”.  “Listening to Oatmeal again, Mom?”  she would ask.

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Last night, we were treated to two hours of this graceful guitarist’s skilled execution of some of the most incredible music I have ever heard.  Liebert was joined by bassist, Jon Gagon and percussionist, Chris Steele.  They had definite chemistry, and put on an ideal show in an intimate Portland venue in the Alberta Arts District.

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© Stacy Alexander

Ottmar Liebert is what guitar playing is all about.  He is in tune with his craft to the point that it seemed, at times, that he and the guitar were one instrument.  He was graceful, and seemed comfortable in his own skin, playing, most of the time, barefoot, with his eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, riding the waves of his own creations.   I believe he was playing a small DeVoe guitar, but it didn’t have any markings on it that I could see, so I’m not certain that is what it was.

Since 1986 Liebert has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1992 he purchased an “alt-ranchette” just outside the city, with an adobe guesthouse he built as a recording studio.  In May 2006 Liebert was ordained as a Zen monk by Dennis Genpo Merzel at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He had a very strong presence….one of peace and goodness.  Both John and I sensed this immediately as we watched him.

(I couldn’t get the video of Luna Negra to embed.  This video (above) is an earlier performance.)

I have been unable to find a video of Jon Gagnon, his bassist, but will post one here, if i do later.  He  was simply put, rock solid in every way.  Jon had a huge presence and voice on a 4 string fretless which sang like an baritone opera singer…or, at times, a French horn.  I couldn’t figure out what one of his bass instruments was at all it.  The one shown here was huge, and had a EB-like headstock and a body shape of something like a JP and a morsh.   Its  tone was full of mwah, but soulful and crying. The  fretboard was  coated with something shiny. I’d not seen anything like it before.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.54.47 AMThe drummer, Chris Steele, was not to be believed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.57.15 AMI did find a video of Chris playing, and I encourage you to watch it.  He is truly a unique player, and fantastically talented.

There is a video on YouTube that I couldn’t manage to embed here.  Please look it up.  It is called “Good Drums, Bad Turtleneck” by Chris Steele.  This is the video to watch to really see this man’s talent.  You can find it here:

The Alberta Rose Theater is a sweet little venue….very small and intimate, which was the perfect place to hear a trio such as this.  John and I ate the venue’s delicious  hand pies and sipped Perrier as we basked in the warmth and beauty that these musicians presented to us. We had such a nice evening.   These guys are  true professionals…plain and simple.  They were tight, knew exactly what they were doing, and provided the audience with an amazing show.  ’nuff said.  Well…no….NOT enough said, actually.

As I was sitting there watching these incredible musicians, I though about my dear friend, another musician, and felt so sad that his life has taken the path that it has.  It could have been him up there on that stage last night….but as they say…”When you lie with pigs….”  He has made some not-so-wise choices.   I’ll leave it at that.

Redbird Moonshiner

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My lovely daughter-in-law has the best taste in music.  I am forever learning about new musicians with whom I was not previously acquainted.  She posted this one on her Facebook this morning and I just had to share.  I told her I thought the style was like Eddie Vedder with a soda chaser.

Enjoy Redbird Moonshiner.

A Good Day for a Tea Party (the non-political kind)

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A Good Day for a Tea Party (the non-political kind)

Sunday was the perfect day for a tea party, an activity that our Ingrid enjoys immensely.   We took a little trip  to the Lan Su Chinese Garden  nestled into the middle of Portland’s Chinatown,  amidst a backdrop of downtown skyscrapers.  This little oasis has always been a favorite place for us to visit.

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The weather was not perfect, but we didn’t mind.  There are fewer visitors to the garden on rainy days.  There was a short wait at the tea room, but we were soon seated and enjoyed an afternoon of silver needle tea, music and food.

Everything about this place is peaceful, balanced and serene.

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We had tiny coconut tea cakes and thousand year old eggs.  We had slices of fresh mango and lychee fruit.  It was all good!

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thousand year eggs

Ingrid was fascinated by the calligrapher.  He made a beautiful painting of her name.

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Ingrid adores John.  They sat by the water and talked for a long time…about the time he visited China, about the koi, about tea and about the scavenger hunt that the children at the garden are given the opportunity to participate in.  Ingrid had such a good time finding everything that was printed out on her guide.

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Every tree, every plant, every stone, everything at this Chinese garden was actually imported here  from China.

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It is our own little Portland-Chinese oasis.

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The best part about these little day trips is the part where we get to build memories for Ingrid to carry with her long after the two of us are gone.  We work very hard to assure she has these treasures to build upon, times and knowledge that she will pass on to her children and they to their own.  This is what life is all about.  This is the true meaning of family.

Ingrid chinese garden

Rent a Goat

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I have extolled the virtues of Portland numerous times on this blog.  Today is no different.  This is about another of this city’s unique, quirky characteristics that you don’t see in a lot of other places….the “rent-a-goat” service.

Today,  we took Ingrid to visit the goats .  There is a herd of about a dozen of them living in an over-sized weeded field with a nice living quarters, plenty of vegetation and a lot of room in which they can move around.

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People, (particularly those that are interested in leaving a smaller carbon thumbprint on the planet), frequently rent these goats, one at a time, or the entire herd, to clear off unwanted vegetation.

A lot of folks go there to look at them, but the owners had to put up a sign telling people not to feed them.  They were getting fat; plus the owners had no idea what they were being fed, so they had to ask people to stop feeding them.

goat3I love goats…their playful dispositions, their beauty, chevre, the way they bleat.  I have always wanted to buy one for Ingrid, but her mom doesn’t think it is a good idea, so I haven’t……yet. 🙂

goat6John and I had such a good time watching Ingrid’s excitement as she raced around and talked to and about the animals.  She raced to catch up with John and told him everything she knew about goats.  It was very cute, and we had a good laugh.

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Thank you, John.  Thank you, Ingrid.  Was fun creating memories with you two today. xoxo

This is MY Neighborhood!

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I nabbed this article from the Oregonian.  It is about my neighborhood.  Our house is 1 block off of Division Street and within walking distance of some of the best restaurants imaginable!  I do not agree with the article about the hood loosing its charm, however.  We welcome and embrace these new developments.  They’re awesome!  We love the transformation our neighborhood is taking!

Portland’s SE Division Street named one of top 10 up-and-coming neighborhoods nationwide

 

 

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The city of Portland approved a controversial apartment complex, which provided no parking, near this section of Division Street in Southeast Portland, seen here in 2013. (The Oregonian/Beth Nakamura)

 

Southeast Division Street’s restaurant scene has once again received national accolade.

USA Today named the Southeast Portland district one of the top 10 up-and-coming neighborhoods in the nation.

“Southeast Portland’s Division Street has been slowly evolving into Portland’s hottest food neighborhood for more than 10 years, led by now legendary pioneers Pok Pok and Stumptown Coffee,” Leif Pettersen writes for the national outlet.

While few are likely to argue with the street’s culinary merit, nearby residents frequently lament rapid and perhaps less-than-cohesive development.

Heather Flint Chatto, an urban planner and member of the Richmond Neighborhood Association said the street is losing its neighborhood feel as a result of that up-and-coming status.

“These new big buildings are all like, ‘Look at me!’ and they could be anywhere,” she said. “They draw a lot of attention to themselves to the detriment of the district.”

In response to the multitude of new apartment and commercial buildings, Flint Chatto is leading the Division Design Initiative, a neighbor-led effort to establish a set of design guidelines for development on the street.

The committee doesn’t have the authority to impose design standards, but Flint Chatto said there is still value in creating a vision. Most neighbors don’t know how to talk with developers about design, she said, so one of the committee’s goals is to produce a booklet or similar tool residents can use to send a consistent message.

The project is still in the early stages of public involvement. Next month large installations shaped like recognizable icons (such as a heart, light bulb or thought bubble) will appear along the street with opportunities for passersby to answer simple questions about the street’s design.

You can help shape the committee’s design recommendations now by taking their survey, designed by a Portland State University student. Also, keep an eye out next month for those installations when you’re on the street grabbing an award-winning dinner.

— Melissa Binder

The Oregonian

Portland Waterfront Blues Festival

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I have been to many, many blues festivals and concerts throughout the world in the years that I have been a music enthusiast.  Our annual Waterfront Blues Festival is one of the best, at least in America, and is just one more thing to love about living in Portland.  This festival is set in a park, right on the banks of the Williamette River in the middle of downtown.  One can hop on a bus or the trolly and be dropped off right at the gate.  The crowd is always mellow and the music is outstanding!  Even the food is exceptional!
This morning, John presented me with our tickets as a nice “good morning” gift, as he is prone to give me spontaneously.  (Both of us have a thing about gift giving and give to one another regularly.  Keeps things hoppin’! )  With company arriving within the next few weeks and travel plans on the horizon, I had not thought to buy tickets myself, so I’m really happy that he did.  We have a great lineup of artists this year and I look forward to going again.    The thing I look most forward to is dancing with the other happy attendees.  We do have a great time when we go!

2014 Featured Artists for the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival

  • Gregg Allman

    Gregg Allman

  • Los Lobos

    Los Lobos

  • Dumpstaphunk

    Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk

  • Boz Scaggs

    Boz Scaggs

  • Maceo Parker

    Maceo Parker

  • Lee Fields

    Lee Fields and The Expressions

  • Los Lonely Boys

    Los Lonely Boys

  • Charlie Musselwhite

    Charlie Musselwhite

  • John Nemeth & The Bokeys

    John Nemeth and The Bo-Keys

  • Joan Osborne

    Joan Osborne with The Holmes Brothers

  • Bombino

    Bombino

  • Blind Boy Paxton

    Blind Boy Paxton

  • Homemade Jamz

    Homemade Jamz

  • Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials

    Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

  • Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas

    Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas

  • Otis Taylor with Mato Nanji

    Otis Taylor with special guest Mato Nanji

  • The Soul of John Black

    The Soul of John Black

  • Sugaray Rayford

    Sugaray Rayford Band

Additional Artists

  • Ellen Whyte

    Albert Reda & Ellen Whyte

  • Andy Stokes & Lisa Mann

    Andy Stokes, Lisa Mann & the Oxford Allstars

  • Big Monti

    Big Monti

  • Cooper

    Cooper

  • Paris Slim

    Frank “Paris Slim” Goldwasser

  • Good Foot Allstars

    Goodfoot Allstars Tribute to James Brown

  • Samba School

    G.R.E.S. Grianças de Zumbi (Children of Zumbi) Samba School

  • Jim Pugh

    Jim Pugh

  • Puppet Show

    Juste À Temps (Just In Time) Puppet Troupe

  • Libertine Bells

    Libertine Belles

  • Lloyd Jones

    Lloyd Jones Struggle

  • Rad Trads

    Rad Trads

  • Rose City Kings

    Rose City Kings

  • Smut City

    Smut City Jellyroll Society

  • Bonepickers

    The Bone Pickers

  • Tim Williams

    Tim Williams

  • Too Loose Porch Band

    Too Loose Cajun/Zydeco Band

  • Lisa Mann Really Good Band

    Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, featuring Diane Blue

  • Liz Vice

    Liz Vice

  • Margo Tufo

    Margo Tufo

  • Mary Flower

    Mary Flower & the BBQ Boys

  • Chris Baum Project

    The Chris Baum Project

  • The Strange Tones

    The Strange Tones & DK Stewart

  • Duffy Bishop

    Duffy Bishop

  • American Music Program

    American Music Program

  • Andy T and Nick Nixon Band

    Andy T & Nick Nixon Band

  • Anson Funderburgh

    Anson Funderburgh

  • Lauren Sheehan

    Lauren Sheehan

  • Ayron Jones

    Ayron Jones & The Way

  • Ben Rice

    Ben Rice Trio

  • Chris Bergson

    Chris Bergson Band

  • Chris O'Leary Band

    The Chris O’Leary Band

  • Commander Cody

    Commander Cody

  • Curley Taylor

    Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble

  • The Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band

    The Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band

  • Hillstomp

    Hillstomp

  • Jeffrey Broussard

    Jeffrey Broussard and The Creole Cowboys

  • Kara Grainger

    Kara Grainger

  • Karen Lovely

    Karen Lovely’s Prohibition Orchestra

  • Leif Totusek

    Leif Totusek’s Candela Blues

  • Leo

    Leo “Bud” Welch

  • Lilla

    Lilla

  • Linda Hornbuckle

    Linda Hornbuckle’s Old Time Gospel Hour

  • Miz Dee

    Miz Dee

  • Rae Gordon Band

    Rae Gordon Band

  • Simon Tucker

    Simon Tucker Band

  • Ural Thomas & The Pain

    Ural Thomas & The Pain

  • Yvette Landry

    Yvette Landry

  • Horace Trahan & Ossun Express

    Horace Trahan & Ossun Express

  • Trancendental Brass Band

    Transcendental Brass Band

 

What a Glorious Day!

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The temperature hovered around 77 degrees f all day today.  The sun was out, a soft breeze was blowing.  Couldn’t have been more perfect except for the fact that I spent most of the day working.  When I finished, however, John and I decided to walk to the local organic market for some veggies, and I grabbed my camera.  What follows are the pictures that I snapped today.  The battery on my camera was low, so some of them didn’t turn out as sharp as they could have.

This is the time of year when the roses and some of the other flowers are at the end of their lives.  Days like today seem to perk them up and they look beautiful even in their withering state.  The plant life in Portland is so vibrant and alive!  These are happy plants.  This is a city that is pretty happy overall.  I just love it here!

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Hope you have a wonderful week!

Ecola State Park – Cannon Beach, Oregon

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What better adventure is there on a beautiful Oregon afternoon in June, than to take off for places we’d never been?  This time, it was Ecola National Park near Cannon Beach on the incredible Oregon Coast.   We have been to Cannon Beach many times, but this was our first trip to Ecola Park.  William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition wrote about this place, “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…”

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We hiked through a couple of trails and stood at the apex of the cliff and watched the azure waves undulate slowly across the sand below.  It was breathtaking. I thought of a friend, far away, enduring the sweltering heat and mosquitoes inherent in an unsavory environment, so I shot a little video and sent it via text message so he could share this moment with me.

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John and I must have walked for miles. Each view seemed to be more spectacular than the next.  So hard to believe this is so close to our home.

ImageThe Pacific was in front of us and the forest behind us, and  beautiful Forsythia, a widely cultivated ornamental Eurasian shrub, was in bloom everywhere.  Ingrid and I talk about a magical white deer that feeds on Forsythia.  The story goes that if you see the deer, you will have five continuous days of good luck.  When we go on road trips, this is what we talk about, and four-year-old Ingrid keeps a watchful eye out for him at all times.

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There were many little streams running through the woods, so we could hear those gurgling with the roar of the ocean in the background.

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The water, beaches and forests of Cannon Beach abound with wildlife.  Whales pass by during their bi-annual migration.  The shoreline teems with birds, including many types of gulls, stellar jays, chickadees, nuthatches and hummingbirds that hang out locally.  Many other varieties stop by during migration.  Elk and deer can be seen in the forest and meadows.  Raccoons and squirrels are plentiful as well.  This place is a true wonderland!

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Even the forest afforded us magnificent views of the ocean!  Every time we turned a corner, there was another natural phenomenon to behold.  We were literally surrounded by beauty every minute that we were there!

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There were spectacular views everywhere…

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Others were out enjoying the day as well, but it wasn’t crowded at all.

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What a nice day trip this was!  We are both thankful to live so close to this kind of magnificence.  Never let it be said that we do not appreciate that which surrounds us.  It is awesome….in the old, pre-Bill and Ted’s Big Adventure sense.  Awesome.  Visit Oregon! You’ll be glad you did.

Portland, Pick Your Own!

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There are SO many reasons to love Portland….and I do.  Here is yet another!

We live in the heart of a busy section of Portland, one that gets busier, in fact, every day.  Developers have come onto Division street, one block from our place, and are ripping out old businesses and putting in new ones every week.  We have recently acquired the name, “Restaurant Row” which is fantastic, because there are a ton of new, affordable restaurants within walking distance, all of which offer delicious, affordable fare.  However, I like to cook, and it can be expensive to eat out a lot, so we don’t do it that much.

I like to buy fresh, organic produce…lettuce, berries, all kinds of veggies…and I do a lot of grilling.  I have a nice, counter top grill.  It is not unusual to have a poached egg on steamed spinach for breakfast, or grilled Brussels sprouts.  Yum!  But the key to good cooking is the freshness and purity of the produce.  The best way to get ace produce is to pick it oneself.  We are fortunate in that Portland has a plethora of community gardens, co-ops and a number of nearby farms that allow people to pick their own!

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Kruger’s Farm
17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-3489

Kruger’s Farm, located on Sauvie Island, offers a full afternoon of activities for kids over the summer, and we will be taking Ingrid there to “help” us pick strawberries. The farm is ready for little hands to romp through their no-spray, U-Pick strawberry fields.  Ingrid will get to meet and greet Matilda, the farm pig, and delight in the wild turkeys and chickens that roam the grounds.

U-pick is offered for the following crops: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and flowers. For the most up-to-date U-pick crop information available, visit their daily Harvest update page.

You can pick from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends

Kruger Farm’s Farm Tunes Concerts brings live music to the farm from 6:30- 9:30 p.m. every Thursday night June 19 through August 28. The family that lives there invites Portland area families to bring their own picnic dinners or to purchase food, beer and wine onsite. There is a modest $10 parking fee per carload.  They also offer Farm to Plate dinners.

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Bella Organic
16205 NW Gillihan Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-9545

Bella Organic’s motto is “Local, Affordable, Organic, Fun”.  The farm is certified organic  and has more than 100 acres of ground where they grow everything from blueberries to asparagus. Right now,  the farm has four different varieties of strawberries available in the U-pick fields — Hoods, Totems, Seascapes and Tillamook.  Ingrid will want to see their barnyard animals, I’m sure.

Strawberries are available in June, July and August, as well as blueberries, marionberries and raspberries in July, thornless blackberries in August and pumpkins in October. For the most up-to-date crops available, check the U-Pick page.

Pickers can visit from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (last call for U-Pick is 5:30 p.m.)

Bella’s Sounds and Tastes of the Farm are harvest festivals that occur each Saturday, from July 19-30, at 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit  Music for the Heart, an organization that donates proceeds toward  heart research. The events always feature a mix of live music by local bands and adult bevvies from local breweries and wineries, as well as artisan foods, compliments of local chefs. Admission is only $10 a car.  Great deal!

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Columbia Farms U-Pick
21024 NW Gillihan Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-3909

Serene Columbia Farms U-Pick is spread out around a white barn with a green roof. The farm caters to a quieter customer, one who yearns for a farm experience minus the corn dog and pony ride. Kids will love getting their hands dirty while finding ripe, big berries in the fields while parents can take a deep breath and slowly exhale.  Serene is the BEST!

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, and flowers. For the most up-to-date information on what’s being harvested, visit their blog.

Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed the entire month of August.

Columbia Farm’s blog lists terrific recipes using their delicious produce — everything from roasted tomato sauce to blueberry muffins. Don’t have a ton of time? In addition to U-pick, Columbia offers customers the option of calling ahead to order pounds or flats of berries for pick up.

 

So, we’re all set with produce, guitar pickin’ and summer fun!  Can’t wait!

Soft, Gentle and Beautiful Portland

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I was talking on the phone this evening, with a friend who lives in a harsh climate, and I was trying to tell him what it is like here in Portland during the springtime.  I used the words “soft” and “gentle” and “loving” a “wonderland”…yet I still did not convey in words the wonders that I beheld on my walk today.  This is what happens when I attempt to tell people how beautiful it is here.  No one quite “gets it” because it is indescribably beautiful.  Portland DAZZLES!

Maybe these photos will give you some idea.   This is my neighborhood.

The first photo shows how it looks down the sidewalk in front of our house:

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Snow Day in Portland

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It snows infrequently in Portland.  This morning, when I saw the first flakes drifting from the gray sky, I thought to check the hummingbird feeder.  Sure enough, it was frozen solid, so I brought it indoors, thawed it out and refilled it with nectar concentrate, this time, using warm water.  No sooner had I hung it back out than this little guy discovered it and took a long, thirsty drink.

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When the snow really started to come down, I grabbed the camera and walked around the block to get a few shots. Not all birds fared as gracefully as the hummingbird.

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Some of our plants had been fooled into thinking spring had come early.  Unfortunately for them, it clearly has not.

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I love how the snow instantly transformed the hood into a winter wonderland.   And even in the snow, love still abounds.

 

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The tree branches gently caressed the falling snow which contrasted beautifully with the green moss.

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Even the gargoyles are tucked up tight against the freezing wind.

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And the snow leaves its cryptic messages on the walk….

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Even my little spring-colored mosaic Zen house is shivering!

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It is still snowing as I write this.  Puppy is snug and warm by the fireplace and I am getting ready to enjoy a bowl of homemade Tom Yam coconut soup, firey hot with peppers and kale-stuffed dumplings.

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 Beatrix and I are going to hunker down and be thankful that we are warm and safe.  This is going to be a peaceful evening.

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PORTLANDIA – January 1, 2014

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Happy New Year!

I took a long walk around Portland today and tried to capture the heartbeat of the city in my photos.  I hope you will enjoy these shots that I took in the Clinton/Division and Hawthorne areas.

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You Are the Sunshine of My Life – Portland’s Sunshine Tavern

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“You Are the Sunshine of my Life” is a song that has been cursing through my brain over the last week (for unspeakable reasons), so tonight, I decided to walk down the street to the Sunshine Tavern, a relatively new eating establishment/tavern in the hood. Loved the atmosphere, with books stacked on a shelf and cool art by local artists, hanging on the wall.  I love dining alone.  It is such a treat to take myself out for a nice dinner at the end of a long day of work.  Sunshine Tavern was quick, easy and unassuming.  I really enjoyed my meal there.

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Located at 3111 Division Street here in Portland, everything about this family-friendly pub is casual and “easy” with the exception of the sophisticated food menu.  Their food has been featured in Bon Appétite Magazine, The New York Post, Food and Wine, and they have even received mention in the Wall Street Journal.  I am fortunate to live within walking distance of it.  Sunshine Tavern does offer some well-thought-out fare.  Unfortunately, there are few vegetarian offerings.  I would like to see more, but what they do offer is exquisite!

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I had the  garnet yam and quinoa cakes smothered in  fennel, softly cooked onions  and sliced almonds.  The cakes were soft with  hot and full of rich, delicious flavor.  Each bite was a mixture of interesting texture provided by the nuts and the vegetables.  I had never experienced a taste combination quite like this one, and admittedly, probably would not have thought of this myself, but I feel I have discovered a real treasure in this particular dish, and can’t wait to try it again.

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Also on the menu, is a small selection of toast.  This is not just any toast, mind you.  They offer garlic toast with butter, chicken liver mousse spread thickly on a toasted baguette, a housemade terrine with toast and accoutrements and what I ordered, the chopped egg on toast with créme fraiche and tarragon.  The tarragon accented the flavors of the yam cakes perfectly.  This was an outstanding light dinner.  I had a tall Sierra Nevada ale with it and reveled in the flavors as I slowly enjoyed the food and atmosphere, but after I had finished, I was still a little hungry, so I asked the very nice waiter what was good for dessert.  He recommended the soft serve with Fernet Blanca.    With the first bite, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

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Fernet Branca is a bitter, aromatic spirit from Italy.  The marriage of this complex herbal blend with the sweetness of the housemade soft serve was a union that is unsurpassed in harmony.  I freaked out with the goodness of it all, and am already yearning to go back…ah, but alas.  Today is a fasting day.  I shall save my return trip for later, and sleep tonight, dreaming of how good it all was.  Love this place.  I shall return!

 

Thanksgiving. Dude, chill! Enjoy your Tofurkey already!

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This is the time of year when I watch my friends, and many members of my family, start to freak out to the extent that they forget to be thankful .    They rush around and shop and bring out the “good” china and stress over every last detail so that by the time the Thanksgiving meal is on the table, they are miserable and they’ve made virtually everyone around them miserable.  (Not to mention those poor turkeys that are slaughtered by the thousands!)    Oh, they know how to put on a “production”….but WHY?  At the end of the day, who really cares?   Yeah, I have my  Limoges china in the cabinet, and I enjoy a well-set table….but  big whoop.  What does it all mean?  The important thing is the fellowship.  The having fun.  The conversation.  The love.

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When John and I lived in the Bay Area, we would sometimes eat Thanksgiving dinner here:

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to cook, because I’ve put on my own big Thanksgiving productions many times, and I know how to do it “right”.    This  was the thought of gathering together with other like-minded individuals and having fabulous conversations, trying new wines and foods, making new friends, learning more about world issues and simply having fun in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.   (When we had our recommitment ceremony, we took the entire wedding party here, including all of the musicians and the owners of the gallery where it was held, and we all had a huge meal together.  It was wonderful! )

I sort of feel sorry for people that boast about knowing how to set a “proper” table, as though that somehow elevates them socially (when it is something anyone can look up on Google) instead of knowing how to kick back, relax and have a good time without worrying about doing things that “right” way.   It almost becomes a competition for some people.

Reading Mrs Beeton’s book of Household Management does not, my friends, impart class. Show a monkey how to drop a rock into a jar and it can drop a rock into a jar. Embracing one’s friends and family? Now, THAT takes skillz, and is the mark of a truly “classy” person. Doesn’t matter if your dishes match or not…and tea actually tastes better when you drink it out of a Mason jar. Scientifically substantiated! My point? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Have fun this Thanksgiving….and be thankful.

Here is a little video that I took of one of the most fun Thanksgivings ever.  We had such a wonderful time!  These people were singers and dancers and doctors and lawyers and artists and folks from all walks of life.  The food was fabulous.  It was a potluck.  We often met with this group to share meals in various people’s homes.

The point is wherever you are….however you choose to celebrate…have fun…and love one another.  Ya dig?

Oh…..and just for laughs….this little girl is doing one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite films, “The Ice Storm.”  (In the film, Christina Ricci does this bit, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube…)

Considering Food and Booze

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I have always cared about what I have eaten, but not to the extent that I now do….and alcohol has never played a prominent role in my life… other than to spark a mild  interest in studying the cultivation of grapes and the manufacture of wine, ( since I have family in the wine business in the Napa Valley).  I would love to take a sommelier course…which is on my bucket list, but that remains in the distant and faint future.

My husband and I do enjoy going to wineries and learning whatever we can about wine, just for fun, and we have a nice collection of bottles at home.  Most recently, we visited Ceago Vinegarden  in Nice,  a Biodynamic Winery located on the shores of gorgeous Clear Lake.   (I will write about that soon, and share photos…)     Interesting stuff, wine….  I’ve just never been much of a drinker.    I go months and months without so much as a sip of it, and during those times, I do not miss it.  I will occasionally have a designer cocktail, such as the plantain margaritas from the Mexican restaurant that I wrote about awhile back, or will have a nice glass of wine with dinner…but rarely, because I have a completely different attitude about what I put into my body now.

Fresh out of high school, I wanted to be a nutritionist, but once I took all of those associated science classes, I realized what I *really* wanted to do (with regard to food) was cook it….so I did.  I trained and cooked in a number of restaurants over the years, and picked up as much knowledge as I could.  I took a lot of cooking courses, too, all related to vegetarianism, and am told today, that I cook well.

This is my personal philosophy of food and drink:  Before I eat anything, I always ask myself, “Can I afford this?”    Except for the occasional special treat (such as Lauretta Jean’s pie, for example) or that cold brew with my vegetarian Sloppy Joe at Hedge House, down the street, I view food and drink as fuel.  So I view my body the same way I would view my car if I were to plan a trip.  I’m not going to plan a long trip without putting some premium fuel into my Mercedes.  Period.

I am in grad school now, and still working full time…..MORE than full time, actually.  I work very long hours and I need to provide myself with the fuel and exercise that is necessary to keep me going.  Therefore, just as I would fill my car with petrol, I fill my body with things that add energy value to keep me going.  It’s really as simple as that.

If I am going to have a drink of alcohol (and I *never* have more than one…and I have a hard time even drinking THAT), I ask myself, “What am I going to be doing tomorrow?  Do I need energy to complete something….or will it be a day when I can take things easy for awhile?”  If the latter case is true, and usually when we’re on vacation, I might order wine with dinner or the occasional margarita or something….but in most cases, I drink water with lemon.  That makes me feel a lot better than alcohol can.

A lot of people claim that booze makes them feel good.  I’ve never felt that way about it. I have never thought it was fun to get drunk, and I’ve never enjoyed being around others that drank heavily.  I have never viewed one’s drinking to drown one’s sorrows as being a realistic endeavor.  I’ve always felt that drinking CAUSES more sorrows than it drowns…but that’s just my personal view, and I’m not knocking anyone that doesn’t share it, so please don’t take this personally.  I just do what *I* need to do to be more efficient, because if I manage to fall behind, I might not ever catch up!

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Today’s breakfast was steel cut oatmeal with 1/2 cup of quinoa in it.  To that, I added 1/2 cup heated, organic mixed berries.  Dr. Greger (my nutrition guru – Click the link…) says that flash frozen fruits and vegs are nutritionally as good  than fresh ones…so I take advantage of their lower prices when fresh berry season ends.  I enjoy fresh organic produce when I can eat it the same day it is harvested.  The flavors are so delicious and the textures are so delightful….but today, after berry season has passed, I simply heated some frozen berries and let those sweeten my oats.  I added a touch of real cinnamon (most  “cinnamon”sold in the US is not actually cinnamon, but instead, the ground up bark from a tree that is related to the cinnamon tree.  The fake stuff is ok, but it does not have the same nutritional benefits as the real deal.)    Yum-o!  It was goooood!!

So with that….I return to my regularly scheduled work…work…work…!    Have a great day, everyone.  🙂

Portland, Oregon – The Colors of Autumn

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No matter how you look at it, Portland is a beautiful city.  Its distinct four seasons change her look dramatically from month to month, sometimes draping her in a swath of floral bouquets and, at other times, splashing her with rich, warm color that can rival any New England landscape.

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No matter what the changes are, they are dramatic…..breathtaking, in fact, even after the leaves have fallen and the barren trees stretch their naked branches up to touch the weeping winter sky.

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Not quite ready to say good bye, the last of the summer crocus peeks through the soil in a fanfare of color and charm.

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The creamy white mushrooms hidden among the piñon pine needles calm the soul and lend an air of quiet solitude among the array of festive color.

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…and next spring’s roses grow their protective armor in preparation for their own showcase that will occur after the winter thaw.

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This is autumn in Portland, where my favorite pumpkins grow and thrive in the organic garden, bringing smiles to children’s faces and love within my heart.  Living here is truly living, and it makes me feel so glad to be awake and alive. I feel fulfilled, and have intent and purpose…a reason to get up every morning and face the new day with happiness and joy.

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Even the old feral cats that hide themselves among the bushes, know they are loved.  They are cared for in this city, where people set out dishes of food for them and offer them shelter when the cold winds sweep through after the autumn gives way to the winter months.

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The birds flock here as well, welcomed by the abundances of houses from which to choose….but beware of the cats!

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There is always someplace safe to nest and get in out of the cold.

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The little squirrels keep a watchful eye out for fallen chestnuts or popcorn from passers by.

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Portland is a beautiful city.  I think I might stay here for awhile.  It is a place for family and friends.  It is a place for art and culture, for good food and good times.  Portland  is a place for love and nature.  It is a good place to be, no matter what the time of year.

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I love Portland.