Monthly Archives: February 2009

New Things that happened on Tim and Jon’s visit

We saw the grave of a pioneer who traveled here after passing away and who was brought here preserved in whiskey.

We had a great wander through downtown Seattle visiting whatever struck our fancy. I really liked the Whisky bar we stopped at first. I wish it had been our last stop too. We were also rejected from going to a cabaret (really, it was for the best. But funny). We ended up at the grossest most terrible hick / red neck / frat bar before heading back to the hotel, but somehow Brian still managed to make a friend. Who gave him a big hug. hehe

Goonies sign
A sign in front of the driveway leading up to The Walshes’ house and also Data’s house from Goonies.

Driving to Astoria to visit Rogue Public House and the “Goonies” house, we drove on 101 through Washington from Seattle and saw how much damage a fall windstorm did to the forests.

Brian and I taught ourselves how to make tempura, and are constantly considering what we can now tempura. I wanted a tempura vegetable roll for our sushi, and we also decided to do a tempura bay shrimp roll (yum!). Sushi was great, but wow, I like making tempura.

Space Room
The Space Room on Hawthorn.

Tim and I went to the Space Room. Neat. We brought Brian back there the next day after Tim got a tattoo. I got spoken to about not smoking in the bathroom.

Leave Love Alone
The girls’ room door at the Space Room.

I wasn’t smoking in the bathroom, I was sneaking a camera into there to take a picture of the great door in the ladies’ room. O well. Brian had a creepy interaction with an off-duty cocktail waitress that still makes me shudder everytime I think about it.

Brian had a near-transcedental experience with ribs at Clay’s Smokehouse Grill on Division. Go there if you like ribs and smoked stuff, they are yummy and inexpensive. They have buck-a-rib specials until five on a lot of days and $1 Rainiers on tap. Which means for $4 you can get an excellent dinner.

We also saw a great gypsy-folk-punk band at the Edgefield and discovered a building we hadn’t yet explored on the Edgefield grounds.

Photography 2008

I’ve been meaning to put together a post of the best ten photographs I took last year. I had the pictures mostly picked out, and then got distracted so I thought I would post it today, better late than never.

It was interesting to consider a year’s worth of work and determine which I thought showed merit. It was a learning experience in itself to consider what makes a picture good, and what makes a picture merely mediocre.

These are not in any particular order, choosing a top ten was taxing enough!

Ironically, I have run into a bug recently on my laptop that prevents me from loading pictures directly through WordPress, so it’s funny that I’m getting around to it now.

Yaquina Bridge

Yaquina Bridge in winter
Yaquina Bridge in winter.

This bridge in in Newport, Oregon in the central coast. We spent the night at a bed and breakfast and when we got up, everything was frozen from a rare cold snap. The sand crunched when we walked on it. We walked on the beach for several hours, and when I saw an opportunity to catch one of my favorite bridges from this angle, I took it.

Boiler Bay in winter

Boiler Bay
Winter shot in Boiler Bay.

We have many shots of the ocean from Boiler Bay, but this is one I took in the winter. The light on the coast is more beautiful than anywhere I’ve been, ranging from deeply grey and misty to orange to bright white. I caught this shot on a day when the light made all the colors turn very strange colors. I did not adjust this picture other than to crop it and resize it.

The Sound

Puget Sound
Puget Sound.

We went whale watching in Puget Sound with my cousins. It was a great day to be out on the water. At various points rain threatened us but never it never actually did rain. Despite having fun trying to catch a whale with my camera, this ended up being my favorite picture of the day. I like that it is a color picture, but it could just as easily have been a black and white. This is what the Sound looks like to me, and it give me comfort when everything is grey. Can you tell I grew up in the Pacific Northwest?

Autumn

Autumn Japanese Maple
Autumn Japanese Maple.

I think this is the picture I got the most kudos on in 2008. I have a friend back in our former neighborhood who I try to walk to see once per week. I always have my camera with me, and when I came across this beautiful Japanese Maple in the fall with the light shining through it, I had to stop. Strangely, I only took one picture, and this is it, so I am glad that it turned out the way I wanted it. My eye is improving I think.

Pretty Glass

Pretty Glass
View from the bar at the Timberline.

Brian and I joined my sister and her family at the Timberline for a celebratory meal and an incredible overnight stay (seriously, you should do this. It was spectacular. Bring a swimsuit.). Brian and I stopped off at the bar before dinner to have a cocktail, and I wanted this shot.

The View

View from the lighthouse
View from the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

While we waited to make the climb up to the top of the lighthouse, I peeked into a few of the rooms. It was crazy windy out that day, and the salty sea spray was making everything dreamlike through the windows.

Five

Five
Five near Hood River.

I am lucky that Brian like exploring as much as I do. He’s completely comfortable with me asking to turn around to see something and is content to go on long drives just to see what we can see. This was a spot we found on the way back from Mt Hood one day, somewhere between Government Camp and Hood River, off the main highway. I loved the greys and both of us have a thing for good fonts in unexpected places.

Shaniko

Shaniko
Old truck in Shaniko, Oregon.

One of the wanders we took in 2008 was to a small ghost town in central Oregon. It was the wool capitol of the world at one point, but now there are only 9 or so people that live nearby. It’s been preserved with the intent of attracting visitors, but is interesting to walk around and peer into windows. I loved how blue the sky was in contrast to the rust, and the angles of the light, the roofs and the horizon.

Sunset over the Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere
Bridge To Nowhere in Astoria, Oregon.

This was a lucky catch of the sun, a storm, and a great reflection. I am fascinated by the light when I look at this, and definitely feel that this had much more to do with being at the right place at the right time rather than knowing my camera or framing the shot.

Where He Lives

Where He Lives
Brian at Seal Rock.

Another lucky photo walk. We love the Oregon coast deeply, and tidepool every chance we get. We will contentedly walk the shoreline for hours on end, sometimes just watching the waves, sometimes taking pictures, other times collecting shells. If we are taking pictures we often go our seperate ways, and it’s interesting later that night to see what the other person thought was interesting. I looked up, saw him jumping over a tidepool, and loved the rocks in the background. Click. Probably my personal favorite, even though I think technically and artistically some of the others are much better.

I’m going to attempt to do this in January each year. It will be a good experience for me to see what I’ve learned to do over the course of the year.

Energy audit

Light over the Pacific ocean
Light over the Pacific ocean.

We had an energy audit done on our house – have you heard of those? It’s free in a good number of states, you just call your power company and ask about it (may have to google it otherwise). What a great thing to do. They come in and walk through your house and tell you where you are losing money, and how to fix it. And then they tell you what all the power company, state and federal rebates are if you decide to make your house more efficient.

So not only is it free, but it saves you money. And then they give you stuff. He left us some parts to put on our faucets so that we don’t waste as much money. He offered to put them on, but we could do it ourselves so we did. We haven’t noticed a difference yet, so there you go. Cool savings right there. We haven’t put the shower head on yet, but we probably will at least try it.

In our case, our guy noticed there was something seriously wrong with our furnace. We knew our furnace was fairly old, and kinda hacked together, but it seemed to work well. Turns out it is spewing lots of carbon monoxide into our house, which might explain some of the things that Brian and I have been talking about with our behavior changes. Energy audit indeed! Yikes!

So we had a furnace guy in yesterday who was really neat (I swear to god it was a Monty Python. It had to have been. He rides motorcycles with cats for god’s sake. He had this voice that projected so beautifully – he should look into being a voice talent if nothing else). He tightened some things and cleaned some stuff out, and told us that our furnace has never, ever been serviced. Uh…..

He said that our furnace will now be much more efficient (we could tell instantly) and that he wishes we had called him in the fall so he could have saved us more money over winter. There’s another guy coming on Monday to deal with the carbon monoxide problem, so right now we are clutching our carbon monoxide tester in our bedroom and hoping furiously that a $39 piece of plastic actually works in case the carbon monoxide decides to pool.

In any event, all that was spawned by trying to make our house more efficient and less taxing on the environment. Also cheaper. Recommend having it done, very very highly.

Will write more later

Too tired to write right now – just dropped Tim off at the airport. We got up early and went to Fuller’s downtown for a classic breakfast. It was lovely. And then we took a long walk around downtown, drove him to the airport and here we are.

We went to bed pretty late after seeing Jason Webley at the Edgefield. Really, really recommend him – he’s going to be in Madison in March or April, would be definitely worth going to see. I’ll try to write more about that later too.

While Tim was here, we made sushi, tempura shrimp and veggies, and crab rangoon wontons. Oh! And they made huckleberry pancakes on the grill. Between that and eating out A LOT, I am going to only eat salads for the next week while hiking several hours per day.

Jon had a great observation when we were out and about in Portland. He said that one thing he really notices here is that people are comfortable with who they are. I think I remember thinking about that a bit when we first moved here, but now I kinda take it for granted. I am glad he came for a visit – Jon is one of those people you can always depend on for really nicely said, well thought-out observations.

Thursday Coast visit

We had a great day at the coast this week. Brian wanted to see large expanses of water, and we decided the best way to do that on a Thursday was to drive to Seaside. Mostly because I have spent almost no time there since I was a child (we tend to hang out in the Central Coast or if we are in this area it tends to be either Cannon Beach or Astoria).

The drive up was really pretty, and there was much less snow this year on the side of the road (we were on Hwy 26 out this way last year with Tim). No elk this time though. We saw the rubble left by the arsonist who burnt down Oney’s – it had been there since the 1920s, so it’s horrible that someone would do that. I don’t remember if I’ve eaten there or not. Here’s the fireplace, still standing:

Oney\'s fireplace
Oney’s fireplace on Hwy 26.

Here’s their sign, which was untouched by fire. Two things I noticed after I took the picture, one of which makes me feel like a jerk: first, the sign said “New Owners” at one point but was painted over; second, taken from this angle, doesn’t it look like the lumberjack peed out the lake? Sigh. I’m a jerk. I know it.

Oney sign
Oney’s Lumberjack sign on Hwy 26.

Seaside was fun. We were mostly there to drink in the ocean, which calms and invigorates both of us. And to check out the aquarium which has been there for over 70 years. It was small and nice – they were the first aquarium to successfully breed harbor seals. They have a nice sized herd (? I’ll have to check on that collective noun) of captive-bred harbor seals that you can buy fish to feed.

Seaside Aquarium sign
Seaside Aquarium sign on the promenade in Seaside.

They also had a nice collection of local PNW fish and animals. The showstopper for me was the big open tank they had in the middle. It was covered with lots of paper signs saying “caution, freshly painted” so I briefly peeked into it and seeing nothing, moved on. Later, I realized there was a full grown Giant Pacific Octopus in it, which is one of my all time favorite animals. You don’t want to get me going on octopi, they are so beautiful and graceful and intelligent. I’ve read that their intelligence is pretty close to ours, and only their short lifespans (3-4 years) prevent them from having civilization. I can watch them for hours.

Giant Pacific Octopus
Giant Pacific Octopus at Seaside Aquarium.

He was so amazing once I realized where he had camouflaged himself. He woke up and noticed me watching him and we studied each other for a bit. Then he went for a swim around his tank, gracefully unfurling his tentacles as he went, occasionally sticking a tentacle out of the water, or even most of his head. I took a video of him swimming at this point, which I’ll post on here later after I upload it to vimeo or youtube.

They had a nearby tank that had fish in it, and a huge sign talking about octopi, so I turned around to read it. Lots of interesting information, not all of which I had known. One of the sixth sense sort of things happened, and I turned around quickly to notice that the octopus in the tank was behind me, and good way out the water reaching for me. !!! I am sure he was bored, there wasn’t anything in the tank for him to interact with or any toys, so given that we had been interacting for a half hour or so, it’s not surprising he was trying to figure out what I was doing. This room was cool – everyone at the aquarium was in the room with the seals, so there were large points of time when it was only Brian and I in with all the fish tanks and this octopus.

Still, having an octopus whose head is bigger than yours reach for you is a bit unnerving, so I wandered over to Brian to tell him about some of the interesting facts I had learned. He went over to read the sign, and sure enough, our friend in the tank started swimming again. I stood next to the tank and watched him, and Brian finally got concerned enough about how much of the octopus was out of the water that he told me to back up a little. Octopi move fast! In or out of the water. As soon as I backed away, the octopus went back into the water and back to his little cave in the corner and that was that.

It was so amazing though to be that close to an octopus of that size, and watch one watching me.

After that, we went for a walk on the beach, collect sand dollars and watching people digging for clams (it’s high season right now). A beautiful calming walk.

Sands at Seaside
Sands at Seaside.

After that we decided to head into Cannon Beach for dinner. We ate at the Wayfarer, which has a beautiful view of one of Oregon’s more famous Haystack Rock, and super delicious food. I will have to go back there even though we’ve vowed to only eat at new places on the coast since we fall into a bit of a rut. I had wild salmon topped with dungeness crab, with a rice pilaf & wild rice mix, squash and green beans, yummmmmm. We finished with chocolate souffle and peppermint ice cream, which may be one of the most perfect combination of taste for me. Service was great too. Brian pointed out that they had won one of Wine Spectator’s 2008 awards for having one of the best wine lists in the world. Cool.

All in all a completely lovely day. We hardly ever head to this part of the coast, and it’s the closest to us. And in winter, it’s not crazy-crowded as it is in summer, so perfect for us.