The scrawls of "1922" and "1932" are still visible in the barns. The original owner's method of recording when he built the timber pole behemoths. My grandparents acquired the property in the '70s, putting the barns to use as hay storage, stock shelters, and catch-alls until a few years ago.  Some of my sharpest childhood memories take place here. Building forts in the 40 foot hay bale stacks. Giving a wide berth to the cows and ponies, with their swishing tails and angry hoofs. Chasing peacocks and turkeys.

The barns became icon, reminder, identity, as bodies aged and the once robust ranch dwindled to a few cows, then a llama, and always the ubiquitous peacocks. 

He passed, and she laid plans to restore these old friends. Not to refill them with what had been but rather breathe new life, perhaps reinvent their purpose. Family work parties throughout the summer to sort the still useful and the never was. Assessing structural integrity. And with the late September rains, a serendipitous turn. A wedding. Could they use the barns as the venue? Dawn until dusk over eight days. A Herculean team effort. Floors re-braced and pieced. Imagining new purpose for historic spaces. Final touches. An old barn revived, glowing, filled with laughter, merriment, and joy. 

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. 

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…

Backroad Love

I love backroads. Give me the old highways that cut through Oregon’s smaller towns and hamlets, countryside and marshland over the bleakness of the 5 any day, any season. I’m particularly fond of the late summer iteration when hay bales dot the horizon and the other sensory experiences are at their peak. Yesterday found me driving a particular favorite stretch - Hwy 99S from Corvallis to Eugene; scent of oak, mint, and fresh hay, dust devils in full swing on newly cleared fields, and the play of light as the day came to an end. Love.


Off To The Races

A new fascination was off and running when I landed in Portland: horse races. As in Dan Patch, Secretariat, jockeys, sires and dams, and Man O War. Portland Meadows had been recently re-branded and people were excited. Vintage ads strategically placed throughout the metro area sparked curiosity in some and conjured a bygone era (or perhaps just non-PNW location) of sun hats, mint juleps, seersucker suits, and saddle shoes for others. (Beautifully done Official Mfg. Co.! For a great read, check out their write up of the strategy/design process.)

Monica and I decided to place a few bets one afternoon, if for no other reason then to say we had and people watch. Hipsters and socialites mingled with horse owners and trainers, track mud fresh in their treads, sporting ironically large cowboy hats and belt buckles.  Though not quite the quintessential scene of the Kentucky Derby, there was something about a top hat in tails playing taps and horse/jockey pairs in their bright silks being fitted into race chutes that evoked a bit of wonder and whimsy in the crowd.

For another perspective, you can read the Oregonian’s inaugural write up here.

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….



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.


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.


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