Monday, July 29, 2013

viola rock, PDX!

i'm used to reading...notes.  the last couple of days, however, i've been jamming on my viola (no, that is not an oxymoron) by playing along without notes to tunes on my iPod to by sting, carly rae jepson, 2cellos and the verve.  don't get me wrong, i've loved my 21+ years in orchestra and owe them the very heart of my viola, it's just that, well, i've gotta bust out!  i've emailed the portland cello project, local hipster teachers and even sara matarazzo who was featured in portland monthly's music scene.  short of putting "violist for hire" on craigslist, which would, i fear, be the catalyst for even more viola jokes than are already on the internet, i would love to play background for local bands, cds or even film!  i know i'm taking a slight departure here in wordnest to ask this, but please comment if you know of a very cool group needing somone who wants to rock her viola...

the endurance

i threw a kid's book into the mix, "sea of ice:  the wreck of the endurance" by monika kulling because i was curious about what made the head of the expedition, sir ernest shackleton, so skilled in leadership.  a week before, i had opened to a quote in the complete book of the adventure that read, "shackleton was nothing if not purposeful."  persistence, intentionality; those words get my attention.  as the true story goes, in 1914 he and his crew of 28 men set sail from england to antarctica, shackleton wanting to be the first explorer to trek across the continent.  when their vessel was trapped in frozen ice floes, they were forced to abandon ship.  shackleton and two other men went for help, returning for the full crew, all of whom survived!  i took notes on the pros and cons of his leadership style that went something like this.  cons:  wanting to be first (debatable?), and thus ignored ice warnings of locals.  but the pros far outweigh those:  articulated and financed his mission, chose his crew carefully, provided more than ample supplies, gave credit when it would be easy to take credit, his men believed in him, he did everything plus above and beyond anything he expected of them, he took risks for them, he persisted in his rescue efforts, he instilled in his crew the habit of hope:  looking for rescue every day despite the odds.  those attributes, in my mind, make for a leader worth following. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the sketchbook challenge

i caught this exhibit in person while it was still here in the northwest, but look it up to see where it's going next:  a mobile van with the snappy "my sketchbook is smarter than your honor student" across the back houses hundreds of sketchbooks from all over the world.  to get started, you scan the barcode on one of their library/business cards and look up sketchbooks by interest, topic, theme or locale...they include a "mystery" book with your checkout and after you've looked through them, you return the books and check out more.  not only does this give me ideas for art k-8 at my school, but it reminds me of how i sketched my way through france at this time last year.  paris has been a theme, to say the least, lately...permeating life.  want another summer combo?  get ahold of the sketchbook "rooftops of paris" by fabrice moireau (artist) and carl norac (poetry).  this goes nicely with the gorgeous "paris in color" book by nichole robertson.  and, while you're at it, you could rent the dvd "paris 36".  novel-wise, "the suitors" by cecile david-weill and "crossing on the paris" by dana gynther round out the happy pile.  one of my favorite sketchbooks from the project was by an artist in eugene who captured her month-long stay in paris. ahh, to dream...

summer combo

i have just crossed off another thing on my "wild woman list of things to do":  stand-up paddle boarding!  it's similar to kayaking but with crazy yoga balance and the closest i'll ever come to walking on water.  our teacher was lexie hallahan, director and owner of northwest women's surf camps on the oregon coast (  it's a nice warm-up for surfing, methinks, which looks much, much more challenging!  for now, i live vicariously through books like the one by ben marcus, "surfing:  an illustrated history of the coolest sport of all time".

Thursday, July 11, 2013

cyclepedia and slabtown

the coolest, bar none, exhibit is here at the art museum right now!  "cyclepedia" is 40 bicycles  (of a much larger collection) ranging from an ice bike (studded rear tire and blade instead of a front tire) to a paratrooper bike and literally everything in between.  if it can fold up, take a picnic, race or let you pedal side-by-side "the buddy bike", it's there!  the exhibit itself, though small, is lithely displayed in a white room; bikes arranged in curving formations and hung by ceiling cables. outside the museum is a collection of bike helmets that make up the red "P" that is the art museum's logo.  tres hip.  from here you could literally bike to portland's "slabtown" area (lovejoy street area and north).  last night at powell's i got to hear norm gholston and tracy prince talk about the archives, historical photos and interviews used to uncover the history of one of the city's most densely populated neighborhoods (you can get their book "Portland's Slabtown" new from Arcadia Publishing).  they taught us, a standing-room only crowd, just how influential the Native American and Chinese cultures were to the settlement of this area and peppered their lively lecture with tidbits such as the fact that portland's first hockey team was bought by Chicago and went on to become The Blackhawks (i never knew that!).  a gal on the streetcar the other day looked at me amusedly like i was a tourist and asked me where i was from?  "from here," i answered, "i live here".  it must have been the joie de vivre permeating my face that gave me away:  dare to explore where you live like it was the first time you'd ever been there.  i guarantee you'll find new eyes...(new japanese happy hours, new saltwater soaking be continued!)

masterpieces you cannot live without?

brian doyle, author of "mink river", writes regularly for the Oregonian.  his latest column is entitled "must-read masterpieces".  doyle, his usual wit intact, expounds on the virtues of everything from annie dillard's "pilgrim at tinker creek" to kathleen dean moore's "riverwalking" (both of which, i couldn't help noting, are next to each other on my bookshelf!) since book lists are at the very heart of this blog, naturally i clipped his article and underlined all the way, noting what brian thinks i should--and should not--be reading (dickens need not apply and so long, hemingway novels...chime in if you think otherwise, healthy debate being key to intellectual rigor) and then i had an idea to add to mr. doyle's.  why not try a book+film=experience combination?  here's an example from my week.  first, read claire messud's "the emporer's children" and then go see the film "the great gatsby" (fitzgerald).  they're both essentially about the balance of power in relationships and being 30, trying to make one's way in New York City.  I've visited NY in my early thirties and, while not trying to make a living there, it gave me reference points for the book and movie. what combo would you propose? 

gift of the canvi

while in the art store, my friend and i decided that the plural of canvases would now be referred to as "canvi" as we searched for the perfect size and amount for my little project.  inspired by the work of heidi keith ( and her project "saving daylight" i wanted to do a small version of paying attention to something over time.  i chose cannon beach's haystack rock at five times of day:
1) ansel adams mist 2) firstlight 3) surf's up 4) dune nap and 5) sky on fire.

atlas of design

at first glance, i took this photo to be a plume of smoke until noticing that it is none other than an aerial view of our very own willamette river!  "how beautiful!" i gushed, pinning david coe's cartography to my bulletin board.  (if you look closely at the bottom left tributary, you can see the shape of a heart tilted on its side).  fitting because i was just about to use the analogy that came to me today:  if the city of portland and i were dating, we would be well past the small talk (zoo train and voodoo donuts level) and into the sharing of history (more on that soon) that promises to be a deep and life-long relationship. one example is that i'm privileged to have kayaked a large section of this river in the last couple of years (most recent segment 15 miles on tuesday) as far north as the fremont bridge upstream to the wheatland ferry and it is every bit as beautiful as you can imagine.  from urban funk to grazing herds (in the water, cows!  i am not making this up) the river's course has carved new beds but is still the same flow our native american ancestors would have navigated so well.  more of david coe's work can be found in the book "atlas of design".    

Friday, July 5, 2013

if, just, only

if you notice
this bird sends echoes of himself
into the trees
if for no other reason than
the joy of it
and that kind of light
will never again fall
just so against the verdant moss
nor on the just-cracked yolk
in the cobalt bowl
stippled market figs
the curve of river beds
just-pruned scent of pine
yes, if you notice
you understand
each tide, each blink,
each wind
is the only one.

ls 7.5.13

Thursday, July 4, 2013

tour de home

i can't help but think that at this time last year, i was planning a two-week july trip to france!  so today i did what any sensible person would do and appreciated the francophile elements right here in my own backyard!  usually one to savor a slow morning with french press, today i started hastily with yogurt and fruit, i had my own tour de france to ride, afterall.  hopping on my new commuter bike, i rode the mere three but scenic miles to red hills market, ordered cold-brewed coffee and turned on nbcsn to watch the real tour's peloton ride from aix-en-provence (blissful sigh) to montpelier in stage 6.  if it had been football, i would have been competing for a view, but i was the sole oregon watcher at this particular locale, glued to the set in order not to miss any familiar sights in the south of france.  lavendar, plane trees, mediterranean coastline, colorful jersies, signs in french, roundabouts...from there i moved to a wine-barrel crafted chair (stamped 'made in france') to read about cooking in a small town (in france) while the lavendar stems swayed under golden bees (blissful sigh number two).  i pedaled home past tasting rooms and expansive pinot noir vineyards before reaching my driveway whereupon i was greeted by adorable children (of the family who is staying here this month) sharing fresh-picked blueberries with them, i stretched along with the day sprawled open before thing i always wanted to do while in provence was have a kitchen so i could both go to market AND cook (the best combo is their markets and our kitchens) so i did the next best thing with the fresh produce from home...roasted hazelnuts with fresh rosemary, grilled balsamic mushrooms, seared salmon steaks on fresh garden greens, olive oil & seasalted baby potatoes...the rhythm continued as my sun tree brewed and naptime approached...waking hungry for chocolate, i furthered my french intensive.  noting the tricoleur (or french flag) is bleu, blanc, rouge (in that order) i celebrate july 4th and salute the french, who have 10 days until their bastille day...c'est complet, mon tour chez nous.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

setting sail

i have actually been doing some summer reading, books finished in small bites here and there:  a chapter over an italian sandwich, a few pages from my camp bunk, paragraphs while waiting for jury duty orientation at the county courthouse.  it's amazing how much 10 minutes here or 15 minutes there can actually accomplish. 
in this manner i finished robin lee graham's novel "dove" about his 5 year sailing adventure around the world (he started at age 16 and returned at 21 married and starting a family) complete with shark scares, romance, and storms.  and i'm now happily savoring "on rue tatin" by susan herrmann loomis, her tales of living and cooking in a french town, complete with recipes.  gateaux chocolat, anyone!? 

zentangle and other summer skills

having finished with school and camp, i am now poking my head up, gopher-like, to survey the scene before me:  july!  with this month comes all things summery and i've made a few discoveries as i launch into this 31-day stretch of bliss.  in no particular order, i have discovered...that there is such a thing as cold-brewed coffee...kelly's brand strawbanero pepper jelly...the art of *zentangle...jury duty to make savory asparagus tarts...
the (proper) way to change a bike to prepare a fairly water-tight-looking message in a bottle (complete with **news clipping of a sunny forecast and a stick of bubble gum, should it survive the seas)...the best way to carry a boogie board while riding a cruiser bike...that tobasco actually tastes good on watermelon...and how to barter-down the price of figs in a US market.  these, my friends, are summer skills.  *i like this particular zentangle because to me it looks like surf boards.  **who says messages in bottles should only contain notes, why not an oceanic care package that floats?