Monday, February 22, 2010

Idaho Weekend: Sunday

On Sunday morning we slept in to the point where it was a tough call whether to have breakfast or burgers for our first meal of the day. Fortunately we decided on breakfast at Shorty's Diner. The food was great and we all fell a little bit in love with our waitress for being so unlike all the other young women we'd encountered so far in Sun Valley.

After our meal we met up with some of Amanda's students (they'd worked hard to help get the artwork done) and we headed to Outpost one last time.

As Shaun pointed out, is this not a total Narnia moment?

Amanda does more in one day than I do in two months.

I had to include the only picture of me smiling. I really did have a good time, I was just really sleepy and squinty for most of the trip. Didn't think to bring sunglasses.

Why, yes, these are plants that Amanda made of paper. And they are gorgeous.

It was Amanda's lot to stay and mix with the movers and shakers at the evening's Sun Valley Center for the Arts fundraising event. Very good for her, very sad for us all as we took our leave.

Good-bye, Outpost.

Good-bye, beautiful alien landscape.

Good-bye to dear,

dear friends.

We'll be back in Washington earning airline miles on our credit card for the next show. Fingers crossed for Europe.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Idaho Weekend: Saturday

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts owns the house that Ezra Pound was born in. The downstairs contains gallery space, a kitchen, and two offices. The upstairs is reserved for the use of visiting artists (and their photographers). And thus was one of my fondest nerd wishes finally fulfilled...I got to go beyond the velvet rope and stay overnight in an historic house! There really was a velvet rope stretched across the staircase. I was in heaven.

Here is the entryway. I like that the snow shovel has been leaned against the statue's face rather than the precious Morris wallpaper. All of the light fixtures were period and I wanted to steal them all. The ceiling paper here is blue with gold flowers. Sigh.

Downstairs gallery space.

Fancy table for the visitor's book.

It was actually dark and cozy inside, but the dazzling light coming in through the windows made it hard to capture that. The weather all weekend was perfect.

The office. There's good old Ezra's face on top of the bookcase.

The upstairs bathroom. There was a framed warning letting us know that any water overflow would be ruinous to the dining room wallpaper directly underneath. I was very, very careful.


with clematis wallpaper! Too bad the gold doesn't show well.

A combined bedroom/lounge with a futon, a comfy chair, and a small TV/DVD player.

It was roughly a million times better than staying at a hotel.

We slept in on Saturday morning and then went to lunch at Cristina's, a place I wrote of fondly on our last visit to Sun Valley. As before, it gave me a small case of sticker shock, but you definitely get what you pay for. It is charming and the food is delicious.

After lunch Kylee and Mark took their leave and the remaining four of us wandered the streets of Ketchum in a happy daze--kid free...nowhere to be...out with friends--it was a possibly unprecedented and slightly disorienting freedom. It was wonderful. We browsed at a book store. We went to an art gallery. We sat and drank coffee in peace.

Roaming the streets of Ketchum.

We went to the exhibition Outside In: Indian Art Abroad at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' Ketchum gallery and all agreed that it was fantastic.

We capped our day with an epic thrift store crawl. If you can ever arrange to go thrift store shopping with Amanda, I highly recommend it. She found me a J. Crew corduroy jacket that fits like a charm. Also a silver brocade 60's-style Miu Miu miniskirt that does not fit at all. But it will. It will.

Here is one of my thrift store purchases being put to use that very evening.

We originally planned to go to a nice dinner, but after having our fine dining fix at lunch and then spending the afternoon gallivanting around, the thought of staying in with some movies and pizza sounded much more appealing. We made a stop at the grocery store and spent an eternity trying to decide on snacks. Many meats were selected. Amanda insisted on one vegetable, for which I thank her. Because she cannot help but make things beautiful, Amanda rooted around the kitchen and found all the antique platters and dishes and made our grocery store spread significantly more attractive.

It may have been the perfect Saturday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Idaho Weekend: Friday

We got up at 4:30 on Friday morning to make our 6:30 flight from Portland to Boise. Shaun's mom spent the night so she could take the boys to school and they wouldn't have to miss their Valentine's parties. Wasn't that nice of her?

Andrew picked us up at the airport in Boise. Wasn't that nice of him? We went to breakfast at Goldy's and ran around town doing some errands. We even drove by our old house and saw a mom watching her little girl ride her trike in the front. That was nice. Boise visits always leave me a little melancholy, as I do miss our good times there. It's a great place to live.

In the early afternoon we hit the road to Hailey; our home for the next two nights was to be the birthplace of poet Ezra Pound, courtesy of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, which owns and operates it as an art gallery and cultural center.

I napped very successfully on the drive, though I hated to miss so much of the other-worldly scenery and the good conversation.

We admired our digs (pictures later) had a little rest, and headed out to Outpost. Here it is for real! We are taking a snowy shortcut. The long way was snowy too.

Here's Amanda's tree in the walled garden. She and many helpers made and tied on flowers. She was fortunate enough to find a tree with a bird's nest already in it. Handy.

The leavings from Amanda's plant made of paper became another beautiful piece.

The view looks like a mural, doesn't it?


We spent time indoors and out--a film was projected onto a wall of snow just outside the garden. Fortunately it was a very short film, as none of us had great winter gear. We are city-ish folk.

The tree made quite an impression at night, all lit up. A light breeze fluttered the flowers.

A guest steps in to do bartending duties. Somebody wore the right hat.

It was so nice that we all got to sit together; below you see us and friend Kylee with her friend Mark. Jan made the dinner herself, a pozole so good that we all wanted the recipe. You've got to take your hat off to someone who designs stunning champagne glasses for an occasion and commissions her "glass guy" to make them and then cooks for forty people. Including cupcakes for dessert!

Some of Jan's video pieces were projected onto the corner walls. Below the video you can see a branch that she had cast in bronze. It's lovely.

And, hey, it wouldn't be a dinner party if it didn't end with fireworks!

You'd think it couldn't get any better than that, but after the dinner we retired to night one of the Ezra Pound House Slumber Party. Kylee insisted that we play an "Outburst"-type game which we all ridiculed at first, and of course ended up enjoying completely. At some point Andrew and Shaun worked out some cheating scheme that left us totally flummoxed, and Shaun laughed harder than I have ever seen him laugh in all of the seventeen or so years I have known him. That alone would have been worth the price of a pair of plane tickets to Idaho.

Idaho Weekend -- It IS a Small World, After All

About a year ago I came across this blog entry featuring this New York Times feature about a house outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. It was a very memorable house, and, because it was so different from anything Shaun and I had seen on our visit to the area, it stuck with me. DO look at the NYT slide show, and you'll see that the house is striking in its setting, even if it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.

Several months later, I got a call from my friend Amanda, whose work was being shown in the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Container Show.

"You'll never guess where I am!" she said. "I met this woman who was also in the show and she invited me to her amazing house..."

Well of course I just about fell over. Because I knew exactly where she was. Weird.

Jan Cox, the artist homeowner, invited Amanda to participate in the cool project, a show she would be putting on at her house. The event was not open to the public, but each artist was able to invite a few people to the Friday night friends and family dinner.

Amanda needed someone to photograph her work, and Shaun, not being a professional artist himself (thereby eliminating any potential conflict over whose work the photos would be), was just the fella for the job.

So we used our $50 Alaska Airlines Companion Fare to buy tickets to Boise and prepared ourselves for one very sweet Valentine's Weekend.

Can you believe I needed a whole post just for the intro? Oh dear. More to follow. And LOTS of pictures. I think Shaun took several thousand. OK, several hundred. So I'll actually be showing lots of restraint.

To Idaho we go!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Laying Low

It's not all crazy weekend adventures around here, you know. Sometimes we just stay put and enjoy life here in Camas; so near to Portland, and yet so far. It really is a different world on our side of the river. Last week I was buying groceries at Fred Meyer, and the checker paused as she held up my tub of hummus.

"I've always wanted to try that," she said. "But none of my friends eat it, and it's pretty spendy." I needed mine, so I didn't hand it over to her. I did mention that she could make hummus at home, but she looked really alarmed and confused, as though I'd just suggested she lay an egg. I'll have to get her some next time.

Going to the liquor store with the kids is another interesting local outing. State-run liquor stores always make me feel like I'm doing something transgressive by shopping there. Particularly if I have my kids with me. Usually the clerks have suckers for the kids (so, see, it's not that bad to bring them), but they didn't the last time I was there with Willem, and he was starting to get restless.

"I wish I had something for you," the sales clerk told him, rubbing her chin. "Oh, wait! I have just the thing." She disappeared into the back room and came out holding a cardboard tube-shaped box that said Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whiskey. I presumed it was empty. "You can put your cars in there." As she handed it to him she said,"That's a good Scotch."

There's nothing like walking out of the liquor store with a four-year-old who is clutching what appears to be a bottle of Scotch.

For the past several weekends we've been holing up at home with a bunch of kids' movies, now that Nels has toughened up enough not to have a nervous breakdown every time something negative happens. Most of the movies have been pretty dull, but watching the boys enjoy them has been highly entertaining. The instant we finished The Sword in the Stone, the boys leaped off the couch and ran to put on their armor and find their swords. After Cinderella, all the tidying up of toys around our house was done by singing mice. And, oh, the piracy after we watched Muppet Treasure Island! (Note to adults: there are jokes for grown-ups in it, just like in the real Muppet Show. I found it pretty darn entertaining. And it has Tim Curry as Long John Silver!) Muppets from Space, on the other hand, was abysmal. What a stinker.

Last weekend we took a break from movie night (we put Cinderella off for a day) to go out with our friends Jeff and Ariana and their daughter Amelia. They suggested we go to Toji, a Korean grill house in Portland on Hawthorne. It was our first Korean food experience, and we were grateful to have people there to show us the ropes. I've never been one to want to cook my own food at a restaurant, but there were fortunately many willing and able folks to do the at-table grilling. Willem ate the chicken like we hadn't fed him for a week. There were at least ten different condiments to try and everything was delicious. It's "busy" food, so it keeps the kids more engaged than a typical restaurant would. Good call, Mullins family!

In other Martin news, we got our cat a bed that looks like a flower and she actually sleeps in it when she's not shredding our doorways with her claws or throwing up on the carpet.

Willem has decided that jeans are cool and other pants are not. He also wears shorts if it is warmer than forty degrees out. He has very strong opinions about what looks good and what doesn't. I have to admit, he usually looks pretty good.

Nels is more concerned with the life of the mind these days. He finds himself in the grip of big thoughts and feelings and spends a lot of time trying to figure out "what his problem is." Such an old six-year-old soul.

Drawing and reading are starting to become a big part of the boys' lives, and it's been really fun to see that happen. And Nels is just eating up all the science he's getting at school. The kindergartners spent the two weeks before Valentine's Day learning about hearts, and they even got to handle turkey hearts. "Don't worry, mom," Nels reassured me. "My teacher said to tell you that we washed our hands after and the turkey hearts came from the store." I wasn't worried. I was thrilled.

Tomorrow Willem will wear his pajamas to school for his "P" Party (Don't ask me why they're celebrating the letter "P." My guess is so they have an excuse for wearing pajamas. There's nothing cuter on earth than a bunch of pre-schoolers in pajamas.) Nels will have a proper Valentine's party, although the inclusion of candy in the Valentine cards has been forbidden. Fine with me. I bought the cheapo Valentines that didn't even come with an envelope. Live and learn.

Live and learn.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Astoria Adventures

You know what makes it fun to go on a trip? When your friends plan it for you!

David and Heather Shackelford suggested we all get a place together for a weekend in Astoria. They found and booked this great house high up on a hill in the neighborhood I'd most wanted to stay in on our previous visits.

What this house lacked in aesthetic appeal, it more than made up for in convenience. Three levels--including a furnished basement with a TV--allowed us to segregate the four adults from the five children. And really, what more could one want from a vacation rental? Apart from being in walking distance to a great bakery that serves up oat cakes and cardamom rolls, that is? Which it was.

The first order of business on Saturday morning (after pastry consumption) was to explore the bunkers at Fort Stevens. The Shacks had come prepared with all sorts of military gear and the kids made the most of it. There are a lot of exciting things still standing; the place is a kid's dream and an uptight mother's nightmare. The rails were all too high, the stairs too steep, the metal doors too rusted and sharp, and parts of the cement structure too crumbly. But I was mostly able to set my worries aside and enjoy everyone else's enjoyment.

The other visitors to the Fort were enjoying it as well. The kid's get-ups and antics elicited a lot of smiles.

Because we are nothing if not luck-pushers, we boldly ventured out to dinner with our exhausted children at the Bosnian restaurant Drina Daisy. I do most highly recommend it, though I would suggest going for lunch rather than dinner if you can. It costs less that way.

We all shared this enormous platter of food, with most of the fruit and vegetables going to the kids and most of the entrees going to the adults. The goulash was primarily tender chunks of beef; like pot roast but way better. There was a ground beef pie and a spinach pie (both with phyllo) and cabbage leaves stuffed with a rich risotto mixture, chewy and delicious. And rich. It was all great. The beer selection is small but remarkable. Shaun had a Piraat for the first time and it was scrumptious.

On Sunday we went the "divide and conquer" route, which in this case meant Heather and I got to go antique shopping while Shaun and David took the kids to the Astoria Column, which has re-opened since our last visit.

The column is freaky high and I'll admit I was glad to skip it. Shaun ended up alone with four kids up at the top, an experience which would have given me some sort of attack followed by several week's worth of nightmares.

The boys were getting a little bit loopy after a weekend full of rubber-band gun battles and fun, fun, fun.

I think they're starting to look like brothers.

Such fun. But I only made it to one antique store. I think the next visit will have to be without kids.