Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bend Weekend

The last time I was in Bend, the boys looked like this:

It's been almost four years since we moved away, and I hadn't been back since. But some old friends recently got married and threw a party to celebrate, which provided us with a perfect reason to visit Bend over the 4th of July weekend.

I let the boys dress themselves for the journey (I'm not sure what they were preparing for with the vests) and select their own entertainment for the car. I always find it interesting to see what they pick out of the overabundance of books and toys they have. As you can see, Nels chose a Transformer tank and a book of stories by Dr. Seuss, while Willem went with a children's Bible and his stuffed sea turtle.

It's totally ridiculous that we hadn't been back to Bend yet, because my mom lives there! In the cutest little house! With an amazing front yard! We loved staying with her for our visit.

Our newlywed friends rented a house on the river to serve as party central. It was walking distance from my mom's house, so that was perfect. When two employees of Deschutes Brewery get married, nobody goes home thirsty.

We were also just a few blocks from downtown, the site of a favorite Bend tradition, the Pet Parade.

(Bend is a totally dog-crazy town, one of the many reasons I never quite fit in there.)

The Pet Parade is just what it sounds like. People dress up their pets and walk them (or pull them in a wagon or whatever) in the parade. Very homespun. Very charming. Very controversial.

The flying chihuahua is the grand finale of the parade every year. And every year, according to my mom, this prompts a predictable spate of outraged letters to the local newspaper. Granted, the dog looked a bit undignified with his little legs slowly paddling in the air, but come on. Look at his little aviator goggles.

The dangling chihuahua wasn't the only divisive controversy in Bend this summer. Huge piles of goose poop in the grass had rendered most of the parks unusable. People were feeding the birds, many of which stopped migrating because they had it so good. After much heated debate, the non-migrating geese were identified and gassed. And cooked. And served for dinner to the homeless. True story.

I thought it was sweet that this young woman was dressed as Cinderella, posing for pictures with enthralled little girls and waving sweetly to the crowd. Then a pushy lady leaned in to the mother of the little girls and said, "Yea, that's my daughter. I'm her agent." And it just seemed kind of sad and creepy.

We went to the candy store after the parade; of course it was packed. We told the boys they could each pick one thing. They each chose a toy (Nels picked a cap bomb and Willem got a truck with a bit of candy in the back) and didn't ask once to have any additional candy. I was impressed.

Reward: ice cream at Goody's.

Here's Nels with his cap bomb in Mom's back yard.

The weather was gorgeous for the entire weekend, and we got to see several of our friends. At the parade we even ran into the pastor from the church we used to go to. We watched the fireworks on Pilot Butte from a neighborhood in Awbrey Butte and we ate breakfast at our old favorite breakfast haunt. It made me miss Bend. Next time we won't wait so long to go back.

Monday, July 26, 2010

E-mail of the Day

Found this in my in-box today. Titled "for your info."

My new Barber, Dan, got kicked by a horse this weekend and broke his leg, so he will be home healing for as long as it takes. So the shop will be back to the normal hrs. and days. Tuesday through Saturday.
9-5:30 except Sat. which is 9-3.
See you than.
Thank you for your patronage.
Carla Rodgers

Get well soon, Barber Dan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Closer to Home

One (rare) gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon in June, before we went on our trip to New York, Shaun and I decided that it might behoove us to take a little outing with our children for a change, so we set off for a family visit to Mount St. Helens.

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens is one of those childhood touchstones for our generation. (OK, I just made that up, but it was a pretty big deal.) I remember my dad sending me a little bag of ash from his back yard in Bellingham. And Shaun and his mom and sister, returning home for a summer furlough from Alaska, flew directly over the crater and got a good view of the steam and activity 12 hours before it blew.

We probably should have let Willem know right off the bat that we wouldn't anywhere near the crater, because he insisted throughout the almost two-hour drive that he planned to stay in the car once we got there. I'm not sure if it was due to his fear of heights or his fear of volcanic eruptions, but we assured him repeatedly that he would be quite safe.

We caught a few great glimpses of the crater on our drive up, but the closer we got to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, the cloudier it became. By the time we arrived, the summit was completely socked in.

Spectacular, isn't it?

Even in bad weather, the landscape is quite striking. And we learned a lot. I don't get much education these days, apart from real-life lessons like "Yelling at your children accomplishes nothing and makes you look (and feel) like an out-of-control jerk," so it was good for me.

Because I left my coat in the car, a storm rolled in. Brrr. Willem didn't want his jacket zipped, so it kept blowing off.

His Royal Highness finally acquiesced to the elements.

One can watch a movie about the 1980 eruption at the observatory. As a grand finale, they retract the movie screen and open the curtain behind it to reveal...well, an opaque wall of white clouds on this particular day. Good natured chuckling ensued.

It was worth the visit, even with the bad weather, but we were cold and hungry when we set out for home. On our drive to the mountain, we'd noticed a surprisingly appealing restaurant in an old house. I don't know about you, but I am always leery of out-of-the way dining establishments. Now that I think about it, I'm sure they must have inspections and be licensed, but, in general, mom and pop restaurants along single-lane highways always strike me as extremely creepy and depressing. And suspect. (I don't care for chain restaurants either. Apparently there is no pleasing me.)

A sign at the 19 Mile House proudly proclaimed that it specialized in cobbler. The immaculately maintained house and grounds overcame any lingering reluctance to stop. I was ready to buy the place and move in. And when we found a seat on the back deck--well--holy cow.

I didn't think I was a fan of cobbler, being more of a crisp girl myself, but their Marionberry cobbler may have converted me. The hamburgers were great too. One caveat; the business is newly-run by a husband-wife team, and while the wife is in the kitchen cooking up delicious food, the husband may be loitering in a lawn chair with a buddy in the front yard, making borderline offensive jokes and telling your children that they are in danger of being eaten by bears. But if you've arrived wearing your thickest skin, you'll have a delightful time.

To stave off a hunger meltdown while waiting for our food, we handed the camera off to the boys. Nels took these:

This place is totally irresistible, right?


Monday, July 12, 2010

NYC 6-26

It could have gotten bad on Saturday, the last full day of our trip. It was my plan to visit the Fort Greene outpost of the Brooklyn Flea, and the subway directions I jotted down from the website provided insufficient details for us (mapless) out-of-towners.

Shaun suppressed his exasperation to a remarkable degree, and we saw many lovely neighborhoods on our foray deeper into the borough. The first hapless fellow we spotted after we got off our last subway asked us if we knew where the flea market he was looking for was (apparently a different one). The next lady who walked by was able to point us in the right direction...we were only about two blocks away.

The people were hip, the goods were hip, and I wanted to eat from every food booth. It was about a zillion degrees out, so Shaun immediately parked himself on the shady steps while I took a quick look around. It has to be really hot to dull my interest in shopping. It was that hot. I want to go back someday, though, and eat more.

We shared a lobster roll for lunch, something I've always wanted to try. I've never been to Maine and don't expect to anytime soon, so I figured I'd better take advantage of the opportunity. I totally want to steal the skirt from the girl behind me in this picture.

Next order of business; walk over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.

It was super windy up there. It felt sooooo good. Guys were selling bottled water out of coolers for only $1, for which I was grateful. I would have paid a lot more.

We finally landed back in Manhattan. It's a miracle I never ran into anyone/thing with all the looking up I did all week.

Our final "tourist" outing was to Battery Park. We wanted to visit the Merchant Marine memorial in honor of Shaun's grandpa Chick, one of our favorite Merchant Marines. The dramatic impact of this sculpture is greatly heightened when the tide comes in.

The Sphere, by Fritz Koenig, used to stand in the center of the plaza at the World Trade Center. The damaged sculpture has been placed in Battery Park as a temporary memorial of the attacks of 9/11.

Upon returning to our hotel, we discovered that the street had been blocked off for a market, which apparently they do throughout the city on different days. Amazing! A man with a clipboard (they are ubiquitous in Manhattan) tried to get us to come to a Comedy Central taping that evening, with offers of dinner. We, however, had plans with friends for the evening. Friends who would have presented a very real danger of upstaging any attempts at comedy on the part of the folks at Comedy Central.

Here's a somewhat humbler flea market than the one in Brooklyn, but with the advantage of being only a few doors down from our hotel. You can only see a few things for sale in the picture. That's all there was. (Overtly, anyways.) I think if they were going to go to all the trouble of putting up the banner, they could have tried a little harder to round up some wares.

The lighting isn't clear enough to see what's going on here, but this picture depicts one of my favorite "only in New York" moments. This is the lobby of our hotel, with guests and staff gathered in the bar to watch the U.S.-Ghana elimination World Cup soccer match. Across the street is this very authentic African restaurant, with an overflow crowd of Africans, watching the same game. Groans from one side of the street, cheers from the other.

After a short rest and re-group, we took the subway out to Brooklyn again.

We met up with friends (Emily and Micah McGraw) of friends (Andrew and Amanda Hamilton) whom we had never heretofore met in person. Only via blog. And the McGraws were staying in Brooklyn with friends (Matt and Lisa Bethancourt) we knew a little tiny bit (Lisa only). And we all went out for drinks at the most wonderful, wonderful Clover Club.

We all hit it off swimmingly well (or at least I tell myself that), but wouldn't it make a great movie if we hadn't? If some sort of zany antics/misunderstandings/cases of mistaken identity had arisen? For those of you who know any of us, I welcome your casting suggestions in the comments.

There could be no better finale to our NY trip than waving good-bye to these four through the subway doors. I may have even gotten a little misty-eyed.

Goodbye, NYC!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

NYC 6-25

Sometimes life throws funny little things one's way. Not long ago my friend Amanda (who lives in Idaho) came out to Vancouver (the town next to where I live) to help her friend Alison (who lives in Rhode Island) with her art installation as the artist in residence at Clark College.

I was lucky to get to spend time with the two of them when they were in town, and even luckier that Alison and her family live within easy travel distance of New York, a city they have lived in and are in the process of moving back to. And so it happened that our third day of our NYC adventure was spent with Peter and Alison Owen. Shaun knew Peter a bit from the Biola days, but only just barely. Isn't it nice when people are willing to take a chance on you?

Shaun and I slept in frightfully late and met up with the Owens in the afternoon. We took a stroll through a corner of Central Park before Peter's sister came to pick up their (delightful) son Mac for the night. Then we went our separate ways, the girls to do girl things and the boys to do boy things.

Central Park peek.

Girl things: We visited the Union Square Greenmarket, where we bought apples, sugar snap peas, and apple cider doughnuts. Before eating any of that, we decided we needed a real lunch after all, and stopped for a falafel sandwich. We visited an honest-to-goodness thrift store (ten degrees hotter than it was on the street, which was really hot) and then some to-die-for "thrift" stores that consisted of carefully selected collections of vintage clothes, prints, paintings, furniture, and what-not. I have not ever encountered exactly that kind of shop in any of the states I've lived in. It was pretty much my ideal retail environment. I should have taken notes on their names, because I know some of them sell their things auction-style online. Perhaps Alison will be kind enough to chime in on the comments.

We also stopped by the uber-famous ABC Carpet & Home (the home part), which did not disappoint. Such a prosaic name for such a magical place. And they have heart-stoppingly beautiful jewelry. Who knew?

The boys: They walked furiously through most of the neighborhoods in the southern half of Manhattan, stopping in at several bars along the way. Peter's day job is bartender, so, obviously, their outing had a strong bent towards research. I'm not posting Shaun's pictures from his walk, so please bug him to do so.

After a few hours of fun, we all met up again in Brooklyn. Where we had more fun. Can't you tell?

I think the Brooklynites are on to something...after all, they're the ones with the best views of Manhattan.

We girls were so good. Here's Alison showing us her one purchase of the day. And I didn't get anything.

We roamed the streets for a bit, trying to think of a place that had outside seating and wasn't too fancy or far away. As we walked, we happened upon a place that looked like a bit of a pit, but the sign outside said that the rooftop was open.

We soon found ourselves in summer beer-drinking nirvana at Berry Park.

The sun went down over the Manhattan skyline.

And here's how it looked when we left.

A late-night subway ride home.

How lucky are we?