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For awhile it seemed like paradise, this 5 acre plot of land on the banks of the Snake River, just southwest of Boise, Idaho. And when my Pa was younger, the upkeep was somewhat invigorating. But health problems mounted, and the work was never done. Morally defeating was the fact that tasks completed had to be re-completed every so often. Well pumps re-installed, soil Ph balance restored, railings repaired, deck boards replaced, dead trees and bushes re-planted with live ones. One huge blow was when an impressive three-tired retaining wall built of railroad ties (my father did everything himself), was partially destroyed when the above-ground pool (guaranteed not to fail) burst and flooded the hillside, washing out the retaining wall on its way to the river. Insurance refused to pay saying that this was flood damage and my father didn’t have flood insurance. Search as he might, Pa couldn’t find the original purchase receipt of the lifetime guaranteed pool, so that wasn’t replaced either.
I’ve blogged about this place before. Pa called it something like the “Trulove River Rat Rest & Relaxation Ranch,” or TRRR&RR for short. Right across the river is the Shoshone Indian Map Rock, and my post on that remarkable set of petroglyphs is one of my most popular.
Pa had already been wistfully talking about selling and moving someplace with trees, that was smaller and easier for him to take care of. Then, as I mentioned a few posts back, he married a Romanian woman and began trying to bring her to the US. After nearly a year it just wasn’t happening, so he gave up and decided to move to Romania. The beautiful house on the Snake River sold in a few months, and Pa began preparations to leave the country. The new owners graciously allowed him to stay on the property after it was sold, and he lived in a camp trailer while he continued to sort through what was left of years and years of possession-collecting.
In April I made the first trip over to help him pack. This second trip was in late May to continue helping him, by taking loads of donated items into the city’s equivalent of Goodwill, and packing the Jeep full of things he was donating to me. Also, importantly, to collect some cats. The Crazy Old Cat Man asked only that I take two. Still, it’s a traumatic thing for our dear Racecar kitty at home, who hates all other cats except herself. D and I brought home Thomas (14 years old) and Yeowler (4 years old), named for…yes, you guessed it. We will see how the summer goes, and then decide if new arrangements need to be made. So far, all three of them fight constantly, and it’s not peaceful when they are too close to each other.
Anyhow, I wanted to show some images from our trip over there, which was like a vacation and tons more fun than an 8-hour drive to Boise would imply. We stretched it to about 11 hours, with multiple stops along the way, and that’s what made it so fun.
First we took a side road that promised a viewpoint. I had been there years ago and vaguely remembered it as worth the look. This time we showed up in a profusion of desert wildflowers and we climbed around the mountain like a couple kids. D found something he thought might be wild onion, and we couldn’t decide. So I took a bite. It was pretty oniony. He thought I was crazy. 😉
Next we stopped for lunch in the little eastern Oregon town of Baker City. The day was an early season reprieve from the winter greys, and tourists were out in force, to the chagrin of unprepared staff in the few restaurants downtown. We stopped for only a pint at the Grand Geiser hotel, but the harried barmaid was pressed beyond her capacity. We left after 15 minutes with no hopes of getting a beer anytime soon, in hopes of easing her burden, and walked down the street to a little Mexican cafe and drank imported Mexican beer instead. Our waitress was the younger sister of another waitress, and had been called in to help.
We walked the streets and delighted in small town shop windows. I photographed the old painted advertising on the walls of several buildings.
The valleys around Boise, Idaho are filled with crops. It’s an agricultural area that doesn’t just produce potatoes, though our state is famous for its potatoes. I remember when there was a big debate over changing our state license plates to say something other than “famous potatoes,” because it wasn’t the snappy image some residents wanted to present. Tradition prevailed, and Idaho remains famous for the root crop instead of diamond mines, suggested instead. You can find onions, sugar beets, corn, wheat, and much more out there. There is lots of sun and water in southern Idaho, which is what a breadbasket valley needs.
Once we arrived at Pa’s place, I called a friend of mine in the area. We grew up together in a tiny town farther north in Idaho, so he knows my dad and our memories go back 30 years. He came out to visit, so we all sat in the shade and watched the river and caught up on each others’ lives.
There wasn’t much left to pack and sort this time, since my Pa had dealt with nearly everything. Of the things left to sort through, I found an English sword I purchased for him a few years ago after hiring a company that researched the Trulove family name. They came up with what my brother had already discovered: our name is English, spelled Trewlove and a variety of other versions before settling down to the one we’ve got. We took turns playing with the sword.
D and I set up our tent on the front lawn of the house that now belonged to someone else. Pa was pleased with the Montana rancher who had purchased his place. I am pleased that passing the baton to a decent new owner will give my Pa some peace. It must be a little like handing your child off to a new caretaker, when you personally build a dry piece of desert into a home oasis and then sell it.
Finally we were all out of steam and went our separate ways. D and I walked through the fields looking for the coyotes we heard that sounded very close. All we found were cows grazing quietly, unconcerned about the coy dogs. Have you ever heard that term? Coy dogs? We used to say that when I was a kid. Then we walked down to the river and I took some parting sunset shots.
“For us the violin is the vehicle for a bigger message, which is not to be afraid to be different,”
~ Kev Marcus.
Six years ago, Tara was dancing ballet at the Laurelhurst Dance Studio, which is a part of Portland Parks and Recreation. It was a great environment, with talented dance instructors. For one seasonal performance, Tara’s instructor chose a song for the kids to dance to by a group called Black Violin. The song was Dirty Orchestra.
If you’ve ever participated in practicing something, or were a parent watching someone practice something, you can guess how many times I heard that song. I ended up purchasing the song on iTunes, and I even made CD copies for all the kids and handed them out at one of the early practices, so they could take their dance home if they liked.
After a couple years, I still couldn’t get enough, though I had purchased the album. It’s fun to discover musicians whose appeal turns out to be long term.
Tuesday I received an email from Portland’5, the local arts email that gives me a heads up when anything is happening in PDX, from opera to ballet to music to Broadway. It announced Black Violin, the very next night! In person! I bought tickets without even thinking about it.
The show was even better than I was hoping for. Black Violin are packed full of energy to back up their irresistible music. Both classically trained violinists, these two men, Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, lean more toward hip hop and R&B. So, they pull it all in together: the appealing sounds of the strings with the funky, soulful beats. The sounds were rounded out with a DJ on stage (and I’ll admit it’s probably the first time I’ve ever attended a concert with a DJ in the band), and a drummer who held his own. In my opinion, the mix is fabulous!
Most of the performance was their own work, but the guys also covered a lot of familiar songs that were fun for the audience members who didn’t know Black Violin songs very well. My favourite was a mash-up of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Barry White’s Let’s Get It On. I was singing at the top of my lungs for all of it.
The only down side (and this is a pretty high down side) is that they weren’t willing to let us sit through the show. Though I had recently had a small operation on my toe, I expected to be seated most of the evening, and assumed my toe would be alright. Nope. “Get up! This is a party!” yelled Kev. I had no choice, but was forced to shake my tailfeathers for hours. My toe was angry the next day, but it was worth it. The show was a blast.
Unlike every other show I’ve attended at one of the Portland’5 events, the artists told us right from the start that we SHOULD be using flash photography, and video, and posting it online as much as possible, and to tag it with #blackviolin. I love it when people grab onto trends and use them, rather than fight them. I managed to get a couple of poor quality videos, so you get a sense of the show.
First of all I’ll tell you about my night. I was not very hungry after eating gouda cubes and smoked salmon on crackers with complimentary Chardonnay, so I picked a place called Wet Dog Cafe & Brewery (there are a lot of breweries in Oregon), hoping for a tasty dessert. I arranged for a chauffer to take me there in one of the hotel’s three restored antique cars. I think he told me it’s a 1958 Chevrolet. My driver was a great guy who had been driving for the hotel for many years and probably would have been fun to ride around all night with, but in minutes he let me off. Once inside the Wet Dog, I was tempted by the marionberry cheesecake and since I was at a brewery, I had a pint of Bitter Bitch, because, who could resist with a name like that?
While I sat there I was watching the Bengals-Steelers game and saw Martavis Bryant pull off an astonishing forward somersault through the end zone to maintain control of the football. Did you see that? Wow. I was so impressed I had to tell the ladies sitting next to me. Before I knew it, we found out we were
practically neighbors, and had made plans to move on to the place across the street, the very cool and chandelier-filled Inferno Lounge. My chauffer came back at the end of the night to get me safely home in that beautiful car.
I ran out of space yesterday to tell you about the post-worthy Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. It’s more than you’d want to spend if you’re just traveling through, but highly highly worth it for a splurge. The photos will have to convey the beauty and quality and uniqueness of this place. It could get an entire blog post itself, but instead you’ll just have to suffer with a dozen photos.
The Lewis & Clark Bridge that I drive every day is almost the last bridge across the huge river. The Astoria-Megler Bridge is the last one, and it’s a doozy. At 4.1 miles long, it is the longest continuous truss bridge (the load-bearing structure is made of connected pieces forming triangles) in the United States. The whole hotel is on a pier out in the river, and my room was almost beneath the bridge.
Saturday evening was rather cloudy, but Sunday morning dawned spectacularly, and that made for some brilliant scenes for me to capture.
I had a complimentary breakfast with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt and juice. The attendant even fetched me a larger plate when she saw I was having a waffle. I carried it all upstairs so I could continue to watch the view from my window seat. Finally I couldn’t lollygag in the gorgeous room anymore, so I packed up and headed out. With a day this beautiful, I had no choice but to head back to the Astoria Column that Mads and I visited in March on the first day of our road trip. I stopped first to take a photo of the Flavel House, which wasn’t open yet. Astoria is jam-packed with Victorian style homes and this one is one of the best. Built in 1884, it is now a museum, and something I’ll have to add to my next visit here.
It was still chilly, and on top of the hill the wind could get pretty brisk, but the sun was irresistible and plenty of others had the same idea as me. Soon kids were running to the gift store to purchase little balsa wood airplanes to launch from the top of the Astoria Column. I parked at a lower spot on the hill, and hiked up the grass to get a little exercise on my way up (parking at the top is $5 for the year if you don’t want to hike). Once I arrived at the column, I got even more exercise because there are 164 steps to the top.
The column is 125 feet tall with a spiral staircase inside that leads to an observation deck at the top. It was built with financing by the Great Northern Railroad and Vincent Astor, and was dedicated in 1926. It’s steel and concrete, and the outside is an unbroken spiral history of this area, told in pictures. I was interested in how the murals were made, so I looked it up. “The artwork was created using a technique called sgraffito (“skrah-fee-toh”), an Italian Renaissance art form,” says the column website.
I stayed at the top a good long while, though it was windy as heck and somewhat cramped. Adults and children alike launched their tiny planes, and we cheered them on as they often soared to unexpected distances and for great lengths of time before gliding silently to a stop. Anytime a plane landed nearby, someone at the bottom would scoop it up to try their own launch. The original owners didn’t care, because no one was about to make that climb a second time.
After that I decided to head back home. I stopped at Coffee Girl on Pier 39 on my way out of town. Named after the original coffee girl who sold coffee to the cannery workers at the Bumble Bee Seafood pier, the coffee was handed to me across the original coffee counter. Pretty cool.
Today I noticed the Kumoricon folder in my September photos on my computer and realized you haven’t seen these great photos yet. My deepest apologies.
Without further ado: Kumoricon 2015
Long time readers will be familiar with our annual foray into bringing anime alive through cosplay (costume play). As in years past, the characters selected do not stay within the anime realm alone, but cover any kind of popular thing that can be found online or in print. Well…one guy came as an enormous raindrop, so really, come as you are.
Kumoricon is the name of the three-day anime convention that is held each year in Vancouver, Washington over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Once again the gathering has grown too large for the venue, and the 2016 convention is destined for the Convention Center in Portland. Tara has been going every year as a participant, and I go to see how many fabulous characters I can photograph.
I am terrible at recognizing which characters are being represented, but Tara is a pro. I showed Tara one of my photos, and they said: “Oh that’s Pacha’s wife. You know, from Emperor’s New Groove.” I have watched that movie two dozen times and did not realize that’s who I was looking at. And when I looked, I saw she had done a remarkable job with the costume, and was perfect for it, since the woman I photographed was heavily pregnant, as is Pacha’s wife in the movie.
When I do recognize the character, it increases my pleasure a million times. Like this one below. Hands down, my absolute FAVOURITE from the day I was there. It’s Garnet, from Steven Universe. As if you can’t tell with a split second glimpse. As if!
One thing I love about this convention is that it often catches innocent townspeople by surprise. They are usually delighted (sometimes scared), and pull out their phones to take pictures so that they can prove to the people at home that they really did see it. Kumoricon is across the street from Esther Short Park and the park becomes a logical place for the cosplayers to hang out and play games and eat lunch. Mario and Luigi (Mario videogames) might toss a volleyball with Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony) and Godzilla, and Spiderman might share a pizza with Naruto, and some Homestuck trolls. Local people will ride through on bikes, or stop at the Farmer’s Market – also held in the park – and their eyes widen with amazement.
These young people spend months putting their cosplays together, and will typically have a different one for each day, and often an extra for the “ball,” held after hours for 18+. When I wander through with my camera, they are eager to pose for a photo. They will stop in the midst of anything when I approach, and I think it’s because they see the photography as validation for everything they have done to prepare. Tara says there are a lot of complaints for when people take pictures without asking, so I always ask. But that’s my MO in any case. I try to get the pictures up on my flickr page as soon as possible, because these kids will hit their hotel rooms in the evening, and scan the Internet looking for pictures of themselves. During anime and comic conventions, my flickr views go up by thousands.
We live an hour away from the city now (Vancouver and Portland straddle the Columbia River), so Tara spent four days with friends of mine who live in Vancouver to make it easier to get back and forth. I was only able to make the trek once, so my photos are from a single wet day.
Remember back in July when Tara and friends went the The Enchanted Forest for a birthday celebration? On that post I introduced the place, but did not show you any of the rides. This post is to showcase the rides at this fun, small, relatively unknown (and let’s not forget: creepy) theme park in central Oregon.
Get a load of Tara and friends on the log ride:
The rides are not as mind-blowing as typical corporate theme park rides, but they are legitimately fun. There are several specifically designed for tots, and several that can entertain adults for multiple rides, like a lazer tag game for points inside a magical dragon lair called The Challenge of Mondor. I couldn’t get any photos because it’s very dark inside and your chair constantly spins.
The Haunted House is surprisingly spooky, even if you go through more than once. Motions sensors trigger spooks of all sorts that appear from walls and drop from the ceiling. There are funny gags inside as well, continuing founder Roger Tofte’s unquenchable humor. Skeletons heckle you, ghosts sail through, rats gnaw on moldy cheese and you can hear the screams of other startled people ahead and behind you.
Rather than a water show, the original plan was to create a restaurant with a stage for Tofte’s daughter Susan to hold musical performances, but as the hillside was being excavated, it looked like the perfect place for waterfalls. Two years later, the dazzling water-light show opened with music composed by, and lights and water choreographed by, daughter Susan. It was so successful, that no live performances were ever held on the stage.
I joined a Meetup Portland group recently. I actually just heard about Meetup on the radio, and it turns out there are groups all over the country – tons of them! For stamp collectors and entrepreneurs and knitters and singles over 60 and gamers and history buffs. If you’re looking for a group to join, check this out and see if you find anything you like: http://www.meetup.com. Ok, cheesy advertisement over. (They didn’t even pay me!)
Anyhow, the group that looked the best to me was PNW Women’s Outdoor Group, Hiking in the Pacific Northwest. I made a great choice! The leader is a person brimming with positive energy, the women were all enthusiastic about being on the trail. The group offers at least three events a week – so there is no possible way I could do all of it, but I love the idea that there is always something going on, and I can sign up for what works in my crazy busy schedule.
I went on my first hike on an incredible and unseasonably spectacular sunny day in the Gorge. We all gathered at a meeting place just 5 minutes from my house (it couldn’t get any more convenient) and piled into vehicles together. That was nice because I was able to get to know a few of the women before we hiked.
One great thing about this group is that I will be introduced to new trails in the Columbia River Gorge that I haven’t had a chance to hike yet. In this case, I had hiked the Coyote Wall trail near Lyle, Washington, so I knew the landscape. When the announcement came out that we would be hiking the Cherry Orchard Trail that also begins near Lyle, I knew ahead of time that I would like it.
Our winter sun doesn’t rise very high in the sky yet, and it was a chilly chilly morning. What a boon, then, to be hiking on the Washington side. The cliffs with all the waterfalls you’ve seen in my posts are on the Oregon side, and that side stays shady much of the day all year round. On this morning we hiked the other side of the river, and soaked up the sunshine till we were toasty warm and smiling.
It was a nice short trail – only two miles – and the views hit us right away and made the little discomforts all worth it. Getting up at 6am on a weekend, bundling up in freezing morning temps, going alone into a group of strangers for a day…an inexpensive price for being out in this beautiful world with beautiful women.
Tara and I took her friend to the Dragon Boat Festival today. They wanted to go and cheer on another friend who would be on one of the Dragon Boat teams racing, the youth team of the Bridge City Paddling Club. Dragon boating is a team paddling sport that originated in China over 2000 years ago and transformed into an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976.
The Dragon Boat Festival is held in September, and presented by Dragon Sports USA. The boat races are the main event, in which typically 4 dragon boats race side by side for 500 meters in a straight line. Teams include 18 or 20 paddlers, 1 caller and 1 tiller. The teams make it a very fun event, by getting totally fired up in team spirit with temporary tattoos and haircolor to match their team colors, team mottos, and team banners. There was a man walking around selling dragon-boat themed socks.
The spectators gather at the finish line, since the boats are small and sit close to the water, making them hard to see at a distance. We can see the black specks on the water when they first line up, but can’t hear the starting horn. Soon enough, the specks grow larger as the boats get closer, paddlers going so fast that water flies everywhere. The caller is allowed to use their own voice or a drum to keep the paddling time, and the tiller keeps them on course.
These boats were different than the others I’ve seen, and have dragon heads about the size of a human head. Still, I love the dragon theme of the boats, with carved heads and tails, and scales painted along the sides.
After the race in which the Bridge City team with their friend took second place (Yay!), the kids played around a little, we hung out at the fabulous Saturday Market, and then they went off to a birthday party. Ah the life of a teenager.
Seeing the different style of boats used in these races reminded me that I began a post last year and never finished it. Those were the Dragon Boat races held during the Portland Rose Festival. I decided to include some of that information to show you the other boats. That time we had gone in support of a friend on a Wilson High School team.
Portland has been racing dragon boats in the Rose Festival for 25 years. We partner with our sister city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan in this endeavor, and the race is hosted by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association (PKSCA). PKSCA owns eight Taiwan-style dragon boats; each boat accommodates 16 paddlers, 1 tiller, 1 caller, and 1 flag catcher required for each race heat.
These are photos from 2013:
It’s that time of year again when Tara heads into Vancouver with thousands of other anime fans in their cosplays. They attend panels, shop for wares, mingle, play games, and delight onlookers.
Kumoricon has stretched to 4 days this year, up from the usual 3. One more day to exhaust all the young people before school starts. It’s one of the few activities we know of that opens up at 8:00 am. Like the others, it stays open till the wee hours of morning. How those kids keep going for so long is a mystery to me, but then… I’m no longer as young as I used to be.
Tara has two cosplays (costume+play) this year, but most years, and most people, come as a new character each day. I recognize some of the people this year from previous years. When a cosplay is particularly good, it’s saved and used again. I was able to call out to characters by name this year, asking for photos, which means I’m slowly learning this crowd. I don’t buy a pass to get in, but lurk around the outside (with many other photographers, I must note), and snap snap snap.
There is a game that seems to never stop running at one place in Esther Short park, beside the Hilton. Cosplayers stand in a circle, with a few in the center. Those in the center each toss an empty water bottle into the air and wait for it to land. Whomever the bottle points to gets a hug, and the cosplayers trade places so the hugged one gets to toss a bottle next. While this is going on, people take turns shouting, “Guess what?” the crowd answers “What?” And it’s repeated. “Guess what?” “What?” and the person who began it hollers something silly and fun, intended to delight them, such as “Kumoricon loves you!”
I had been standing on the fringes snapping photos. While looking through the viewfinder, I hadn’t noticed that the circle had expanded to include me. I was getting great shots of a cosplayer headed directly for me, and before I knew it, I got hugged by her! “How does it work?” I asked, since at that time I didn’t know. Once she explained, I slung my camera over my shoulder to head for a bottle in the center. After I had dispensed the obligatory hug, I took care to stand well back after that, ha ha.
There is one more day left of Kumoricon, but I’m impatient to show these photos to you.
I am doing a little housecleaning today, and skimmed through my Disney photos to see what I have not showed you yet. There are a few more images I wanted to share. I was following a theme before, grouping all my photos under one topic. For this one, I just want to make sure I hit what’s left. Things that caught my eye during my very first trip to Disneyland, that I haven’t showed you already.
If you missed the earlier photos, check out the side panel to the left of your screen, and go down to where it says “I already said,” and click the arrow next to “select month.” Choose April 2014 from the drop down menu and scroll down. There are lots of photos. But of course I still have more!
Alright, that’s about enough. I could go on but I want to discard this image folder from my desktop and finish the tidying. I hope it’s been fun to visit Disney one last time with me.
Update: Maybe not the very last time. My Tara is begging already for another Disney trip as her high school graduation gift next year. (She’s graduating in a year, can you believe it?!) So by the time the memories have faded, we may head south again and make some more.
Sunday morning was a bad morning for me. Emotional, sad, blech. The kind of thing that takes the wind out of you. But I am blessed with a caring, perceptive, and loving daughter.
“Let’s go do pottery,” she said, seeing how sad I was.
There’s a great little shop within walking distance of the house, called Pottery Fun, that’s silly and simple and easy, and yes, fun. We walked into the brightly lit and colorful shop and were greeted instantly by a super friendly woman who put us at ease and told us how it worked. Tara had been there before a couple of times, but it was my first time.
Piece of cake. You pick a fired piece off a shelf. Each piece has the price on it. For that price, you can use any of their paints, stamps, and glazes, and you can take as long as you like to build your masterpiece. The firing is also included. There was a wall of glazes and we played with the coloured tiles for awhile, holding them together and choosing which combinations would look best. We chose two spots at a table near the windows, and were bathed with November sun the whole time we sat there. That was the first thing to lift my mood.
I wanted something simple, and was thinking flower pot. Tara saw the bowl I chose and suggested fruit bowl instead. It may look better in my kitchen than full of dirt; we will just see. Tara has been treating herself to cold weather luxuries in the form of teas, cocoas, and butter beer (She taught herself to make it after discovering it’s a favourite drink at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry)(no, there’s no beer in it). To further luxuriate, she wanted a new mug.
She had a theme in mind for the mug too, and began trying to sketch out a honeycomb design, but faltered. The helpful ladies behind the counter looked up a honeycomb image and printed it out for her to use. Great service! She then painted on some bees and decorated some flowers for the staff to attach to the side.
The shape of my awesome bowl made me think a simple design would be best, so I didn’t crowd out the fabulous ridges with too much busy-ness. I chose a dark purple and a wine red, and blended them half and half, then used one of their handy applicators to swirl on some dark yellow spirals (the colour was “Pooh Bear”) all over it.
Tara used the same applicators to draw her design as well. It’s so nice not to have to buy all the tools, and just grab a brush, or sponge, or towel, or pencil that is available at the table.
It’s a perfect cheer-me-up shop. The atmosphere was peaceful and happy. There were two birthday parties in the back room while we were there. The second party included several Russian families so we heard their fascinating language filtering through the sounds of children laughing. At a table near us, dads and their kids were glazing menorahs. I was warmed by the sunshine on my shoulders and feeling good being creative.
My most favourite companion in the whole world sat right across from me.
We will go pick them up tomorrow and see how the pieces turned out. I’m so eager to see them!