The Wizard, the Rainbow, and the Kokanee

We love and prioritize contributing to our larger community. When the opportunity came up to help with trail restoration at Crater Lake National Park, we were in. It was an REI and National Park co-hosted event that drew participants from around Oregon. I worked on invasive plant removal while Andrew helped remove social trails (created by park visitors to reach a vantage point quicker but harmful for the overall ecosystem). Exploring Umpqua River waterfalls and forests, testing out our new tent, and making the trek down to Crater Lake proper to cast for Rainbow trout and Kokanee salmon was icing on the cake. 

Shakespeare and Company: A Legendary Bookstore in Paris | Vanity Fair

I can and do spend hours at Shakespeare and Company on the rare occasions I am in Paris. I loved VF's coverage of its current iteration, and hope it will continue to be a touchstone. Thank you Sylvia. 

Market To Table à la Hipcooks Seattle

Our Seattle Sunday morning was, post coffee and lazy flips of newspapers, spent at Hipcooks Seattle, learning to make scrumptious recipes and, even better, eating our efforts around a community table.

I’m not an avid cook (chips and salsa is a legitimate meal in my mind) but when spending time with three of the grandest foodies I know, organizing a cooking class only seemed right. Hipcooks Seattle offers a Market to Table class in which the chef brings whatever looked amazing at the market to the studio and you learn how to prepare a range of ingredients and create a feast (and get all the recipes too!). As I am notorious for opening the ‘fridge to see what might combine with what to create dinner, this “whatever we find” approach appealed.

Squash flowers basted in a light tempura were first. Next came the homemade fettuccine and fava bean ragout (fava beans might just be one of the most high labor to low yield foods I have ever cooked with). Fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon, sautéed spinach with walnuts and aioli, and seared heirloom tomatoes were the main course. And dessert included perfect summer berries over homemade ice cream with a balsamic glaze. All paired with local wines. 

Seattle Weekend

After the 4th in Nehelam, we ventured north to Seattle along the 101.

Very dear friends from Beirut had recently moved to Seattle. Ardent foodies and outdoor enthusiasts, a weekend with J&M is hard to beat. 

We took in iconic views of Seattle…

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…ate a fair amount of ice cream, explored Pike’s Market, the Gates Foundation Interpretive Center, and spied the Space Needle. The city boasts many options for those who want to take it all in (Duck Boat Tours, chartered kayak and boat trips, whale watching, etc.) but we were content to kick back, cook, walk, and experience J&M’s version of Seattle.

One post-dinner exploration took us to the Streissguth Garden, an iconic landmark in the Lake Union/Capital Hill neighborhood we were staying in. The garden is a hillside, reclaimed from the brambles and ivy decades ago by Dan and Ann Streissguth and then gifted to the city not so long ago as a way of ensuring this gem will be around for a while, and not parceled off to developers. Dan and Ann, along with family and volunteers, care diligently for the hillside space that is home to PNW natives, hummingbirds, bees, and the like. We were fortunate to meet them both and hear a bit of their stories. He is a retired architect and she is one of researchers responsible for figuring out Fetal Alcohol Syndrome back in the day and continues to teach at UW. Both shared enthusiastically about the garden, their adventures, and wondered over our own interesting paths in life so far. A hidden gem indeed, one I’ll venture back to.

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Manzanita 4th of July

To venture north on Hwy 101 to Nehelam and Manzanita for 4th of July celebrations has become a favorite of mine. My sister’s in-laws call this corner of Oregon home, and their generous hospitality has allowed me to take part in Independence Day celebrations a la small coastal town for a few summers now. This year had the added bonus of introducing Andrew to this US-specific holiday, and meeting new friends as well.

First, the {fast becoming} obligatory stop at Gino’s in Newport for fish ‘n’ chips:

And then on to Nehelam for s'mores, mellow mornings, and creek-side banter as well as Manzanita’s traditions of: Pancake Breakfast hosted at the local Fire Department to benefit the school district’s athletic fund; Main Street Parade; and fireworks on the beach.

One of the many beauties of Oregon’s north coast is the close proximity of many gorgeous locals. We ventured further north today to explore lighthouses, hidden beaches, and coffee shops.

Nice, France

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Nice, France. My weekend was work oriented - a few days to attend an ECIS conference - but when I wasn’t soaking in the latest brain research, cultural awareness studies, and edu-speak, the markets and byways beckoned.

Weekend highlights were… the proper, brilliant cold of winter… cheap street food… Sarah Kay’s spoken word poetry (after more research, I particularly like “If I Should Have a Daughter“ and ”When Love Arrives”)… an evening at Nice’s modern art museum (I love visiting modern art museums in part because there is always the chance of overhearing a kid hiss indignantly “But Mom! I could do that!”) and the gorgeous views afforded by the rooftop terrace… the storybook view from my hotel room… the flower and book markets.

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29 Before 28 Review

Another year older… And another “Before” list to reflect on.  I won’t be taking on the “Before” project in full this coming year. Instead, I’m thinking a few well placed goals will be better suited for the year ahead and all its dynamic movement. If you haven’t pursued a project like this, I would suggest it.  There is something about setting goals and hopes, large and small, that I have so enjoyed over the past two years.  And as I consider the rave reviews from other friends who have taken on this sort of venture, I don’t think I’m the only one who has found the full experience formative and fun. So stay tuned, chances are a “31 Before 30” will find its way into existence after a while…

Goals Met…
#1: Take a cooking class at Tawlet
#4: Add to my tattoo
#6: Kayak with Monica
#7: Visit the Portland Art Museum
#10: Knock off at least two “bucket list” items (Traveling with Jamie and Landon to Istanbul in November sorted one, while my adventure in Alaska over the summer satisfied the other.)
#11: Donate my hair to Lock of Love…
#12: …and chop is all off.
#13: Moonlight Hike
#15: Take at least one Arabic class at Saifi (extra credit for taking two?)
#17: Read The Great Gatsby (Much enjoyed, and based on the bias of my imagination, am of the opinion that the casting for the latest film rendition is spot on.)
#22: Go to Baalbek.
#24: Officially become a client of Monica Lauritsen Photography.
#29: Voodoo doughnuts.

…and those that wouldn’t be.
#2: Visit the AUB Archeological Museum (…though this small cache of Lebanese/regional history will be explored pre-departure.)
#3: Surf Santa Cruz with Reina (We had the best of intentions but chilly weather made exploring the city and catching up much more enticing.)
#5: Learn to make pie crusts like my mum (I think in reality, subconsciously, my logic is that if I don’t learn this all important skill then she and my lovely brother will continue to spoil me when I’m home with delicious treats!)
#8: Complete the “Poverty” piece (More to come; this idea isn’t on the shelf yet.)
#9: Piano Lessons (I’ll keep working on this one, though likely not in a particularly formal manner.)
#14: Volunteer in Lebanon
#16: Travel to Greece (Someday…)
#18: Hike the South Sister (Sometimes time is the greatest hinderance…)
#19: Take on and complete at least two photography projects (A few good ideas, simply a lack of follow through.)
#20: Blue Note for a jazz show (Again, another pre-departure endeavor.)
#21: Explore Byblos (And another.)
#23: Read 100 books (But I’m feeling pretty good about the 50 I completed.)
#25: Attend at least one BSP Photo workshop.
#26: Snowboard with Travis during Winter Hols (One would need snow to make this possible…)
#27: Hike Mt. Hermon (I would still love to do this but I’m not certain that current political dynamics will allow it.)
#28: Portland Chello Project concernt (So sad to have missed their shows over the summer! But this will happen at some point.)

13 for 29: not the best completion rate but sometimes it’s more about the process then the end result…

31 km of Tannourine

An overnight venture this past weekend near Tannourine.

Saturday: 13km, beginning at 1610m and ending near 2151m after 5.5 hours of hiking.

Sunday: 18km, beginning at 2152m and ending near 1550m after 6.5 hours of hiking.

A grand, somewhat demanding, hike spent in the company of friends and the stark landscape of Lebanon’s mountains. Natural springs, tent camping (and the reminder to invest in a good camping mat), campfire and marshmallows, whiskey, stars, ridge lines, apple orchards, roast potatoes, politics, full moon, life shared.

Portland Summer

Having made the Rose City home for three years, I am admittedly bias toward the idea that this small city (roughly half a million) indeed has a magical quality. Sure, it’s quirky and not without issue, but also jam packed with possibilities, fun, and a foodie/outdoor scene that leaves most with a watering mouth and penitent to become the next Bear Grylls.  It is amazing how much one can find to amuse herself, both the tried and true, and the new, especially during the bewitching months of summer when the days lengthen and temperatures allow for river floats while the sun shines and campfires and sweaters once it sets.  A few of my favorites….

Carts…

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Disc Golf and Deschutes at Pier Park; new to me this year, introduced by the lovely Jed and Alyssa…

The Alberta Last Thursday… I can fully empathize with the Alberta residents’ request that the monthly street fair be better regulated (parking is mayhem and permits are not required; the outcome can be less then ideal for the neighborhood) but am hopeful that a good solution can be found to keep this quirky event part of the Portland neighborhood scene.  My personal favorite was bartering a 5,000LL note for a one of a kind poem, created on the spot.

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Salt & Straw… Oh.my.goodness. I’m hooked. There are two main locations, one in NW, one in NE, and a cart on SE Division.  The ice cream is heavenly and the owner takes personal pride in concocting perfect flavor pairings. Loved the salted caramel.

Slow crawls through favorite neighborhoods… Such as the NE 26th and Burnside area.  At one end is Pambiche, amazing Cuban food that I spent way too much money on while in grad school, and at the other is Crema, Ken’s Artisan Pizza, and small, local shops such as Artemisa, an atrium builder, or anyone who appreciates pretty things, haven. In between are numerous eateries, the Coca-Cola plant, Bakery Bar (Love this place! Especially when they stayed open at all hours during the World Cup to host games. Their Apple-Bacon scone is perfection.), a mix of traditional Foursquare-style houses and new eco-friendly designs, and the iconic Laurelhurst Theater.

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I took an afternoon to finally explore the Portland Art Museum as well. Not too shabby and a nice way to escape the heat.

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On the water | Part 3

A typical day began with prepping the kayaks and then orienting guests to the safety realities of being on the water for the next seven hours and how we interacted with the bay’s ecosystem.

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There is an incredible tidal ecosystem around the islands, home to a diverse range of species including the Blood Star (my favorite). As well, waterfowl, porpoise, otters, and seals were common sites while out on day paddles. Occasionally, whale pods would use the bay as a route. 

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{Photo Credit: Rick Harness}

The beginnings of sea soup. We ate this every day and it never got old, especially when paired with Dorle’s homemade bread and crisp apples.

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Threading the needle 

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{Alaskan} Island Life | Part 2

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Some time ago folks could purchase land for little expense if they could show contribution to the larger economy through some business venture; this house started as a bakery of sorts, selling pies to local fisherman, and the owners got a screaming deal on prime real estate.

A typical way to spend the afternoon was taking the skiff up one of the many inlets to check on nest sights, erosion realities, fish runs, and soak up the intense beauty nature had to offer. It wasn’t uncommon to count 50+ eagles in an hour’s time.

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Due to the shallow land base, the typical set ups of septic tanks and high volume water usage aren’t possible. Instead, outhouses, steam houses, and hand washing are the norm (Rick found my efforts to clean clothes via bucket and plunger hilarious). Drinking water is either brought out from Homer or siphoned off a local mountain side spring and then filtered (it’s part of the norm to always be checking the filter buckets and swapping out  batches of water), non-drinking water is provided by rain barrels, and food either comes directly from the island (kelp, fish, etc.) or is brought out from Homer with a careful consideration of how long items will keep. Though there wasn’t a great need for heating during my stay, the wood stack is always kept full.

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Alaska | Part 1

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In a word, Alaska was stunning. While I was technically working/volunteering as a WWOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which the acronym for has become a noun and verb in recent traveler-speak; fantastic organization and an excellent resource for those whose idea of traveling and exploring includes life lived with locals and contribution), I felt completely on vacation and at the end of 18 days was rested and full. I’m one of several adventurers in my larger family and recently a few cousins had spent summers in Alaska. Their stories, my own curiosity, and a desire to be a bit more intentional with my summer hols this year was the motivation to head north for a few weeks.

I was very fortunate to come across Rick and Dorle Hareness’ eco-tourism company, A Seaside Adventure, based in Little Tutka Bay, about 40 minutes by water taxi off the coast of Homer, Alaska. They made space for me in their already full volunteer queue and very generously and graciously shared their lives and passion for the outdoors.  I think I’ve been avoiding posting about the trip in part because it’s mind boggling to suss how to describe such a rich experience. The boiler plate summary is I kayaked almost every day, was spoiled by a never ending supply of homemade bread, fresh fish, quesadillas, and sea soup, soaked in the silence and green, and very much cherish the friendship built with Rick and Dorle in such a stunning setting. Past that, I’ll let photos do the talking….

First glimpses…

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My lovely hosts!

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My view with breakfast, every morning.

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Many an evening ended with a mug of tea and some iteration of a stunning sunset…

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South of Sour

This past weekend found me south bound with Megan, Wade, and Jane (such a doll, and patient car companion!), and Jimmy and Madeleine.  Our destination was a small guesthouse just south of Sour (Tyre), but south enough that we would be near the Israeli border and so needed a special permit to be allowed through the check points.

After dealing with the bureaucracy at Saida and obtaining our permit - literally the date and another number scribbled on a post-it - we ventured in land a bit to Cana (where it is claimed Jesus turned water into wine), to a crusader castle which we sort of stormed, only to find out the front gate was unlocked, and down to Bint Jebeil before turning toward the coast, following the border, and arriving at what is now one of my favorite corners of Lebanon (this is, I might add, a small and very exclusive list).  (Wade does a much better job of describing the history and importance of different sites; if that’s you’re thing, check out his post about the road-trip here.)

A lush lawn surrounding a lavender, camilla, and bougainvillea-encompassed gazebo and dotted with lounge chairs begging to be curled up in with a cup of coffee and book separated the guesthouse - two well apportioned rooms and a kitchen space - from the main house. Arbor vida, shrubs, and several mature trees ringed the lawn, orchards to be spied through the branches and stretching to the foothills.  A small irrigation stream and bird song provided the soundtrack while jasmine floated on the breeze.  The sea, with a pristine, undeveloped beach - rare in Lebanon’s lack-of-environmental-care norm - was a short walk away, through banana orchards.  An additional layer of magic at dusk when the frogs began their concert and calls to prayer echoed up and down the coast.

Much: reading, conversation, Jimmy and Madeleine identifying birds for the aves neophytes of the group (read: everyone else), beach combing, Scrabble, good food, wine, coffee, s’mores, an early morning attempt to find the Tyre nature reserve (bit of a fail), and “when we come again” plannings. Indeed, looking forward to a return trip.