|I don't have anything against the Anacortes Farmers Market; the bounty of the Skagit Valley, and access to it, is important to me; it is neat to see people behind the counter that I recognize; and Samish Bay cheese will always hold a special place in my heart. But compared to the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, it leaves much to be desired.
Yesterday, I journeyed downtown via my favorite form of public transportation (non-bus) to bask in all the local foods that NW Oregon has to provide. What did I see? Berries, cherries, buffalo meat, goat cheese, mushrooms, honey, walnuts, veggies, oysters, flowers, bread, and so much more. And there wasn't just one stand for each, but lots to choose from. The fruit stands alone were easily larger than the whole of the Anacortes Farmers Market. Although I ended up only coming away with cherries, a focaccia bread, and some chipotle cheddar, I could have easily spend about $200 dollars and had myself quite the little feast.
Speak of feasts, not only was there fresh local produce etc., but there were food stands to beat the band: pizza by the slice, organic breakfast burritos, and plenty more that I would have loved to sampled. I decided on a spicy sausage with grilled onions and green peppers. I sat and enjoyed my lunch while listening to the [local, (I assume)] band rocking out on stage. Yep, the Portland Farmers Market is a good way to spend a day.
|Sunday July 15 2007||File under: food, travel|
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|(For all you uninitiated, "PDX" is what the cool kids call Portland, OR. Or at least that's what I am told. I sure hope another naming discussion stems from this one*. I'll just stick with it purely for convenience. PDX is easier to type than Portland*.)
Portland, Oregon is a city that is held in high regards by many Northwesterners. It isn't too large to be overwhelming. It is large enough to have all the culture you could hope for. And it is a well planned city with public transportation, city parks, and more. I've passed through here a couple of times before, but never really gotten a chance to really immerse myself in all that is PDX.
Well, in the continuing vein of the Year of Wren, things just seem to go my way. I've landed a 10 day housesitting gig in a gorgeous home in a lovely part of the city. Within being here only a couple of hours, I get treated to dinner with old friends at the 2007 Restaurant of the Year, Pok Pok*. Now, as a cool breeze flushes the house of the warmth built up through the day, thunder and lightening echo in the background really adding to the sense of adventure I'm anticipating for this lovely visit.
So any BdW readers in the area, let's get together! Let's do a movie in one of those famous McMenamin's pub/cinemas. Shall we check out the Farmers' Market? You must know a good swimming hole. Show me your favorite park*. Or if you were here but aren't now, drop a suggestion for what I simply mustn't miss.
Three cheers for a PDX adventure!
|Thursday July 12 2007||File under: travel, food|
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|The talk of the town these last few days is all about how hot it is. No, it's not 117� like some places, but mid-eighties is still pretty hot for us wussy Northwesterners. And what is there to do here in Anacortes when the going gets hot? WHISTLE LAKE!!!!
We made it to the parking lot before the throngs of cooler-toting, party dudes descended, and made a bee-line for the relative seclusion of the skinny dipping spot (although no skinny dipping occurred.) The water was cold, but it was a refreshing cold. A quick swim across the lake and back was enough to remind me it has been too long since I have been swimming, as my arms were barely keeping me afloat*.
Yes it's hot, but if it wasn't for the heat, a dip in Whistle wouldn't feel nearly as good as it does, and for that reason, I'm not going to complain. (Well, okay maybe a little.)
|Wednesday July 11 2007||File under: Anacortes, misc|
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|(I think popular consensus is that nobody calls Vancouver "the 'Couv". That's quite a pity, if you ask me. Anyhoo, it is a trend I'm looking to start, so I expect to hear you all saying it soon.)
Vancouver is a dang cool city. I know, because I've been (although not nearly as often as I should've). I've been reading much about it over the last year or so on Amanda's blog, so I got quite excited when I heard we were planning a family excursion up that way to visit an old* family friend.
To make a long story short*, the trip was awesome. We had a great visit with great friends in a great city. High points included an excellent "Malaysian Thai Fusion" meal, gorgeous weather for walking along the beach at English Bay (side note: I found it highly amusing how many folks were out sunbathing or swimming even though the temperature was no more than 74* with a not-so-warm breeze blowing off the water), the Frazier River countryside, and the little difference (we saw 2 smart cars, one of which was a convertible!). Low points included an unpleasantly long wait at the border crossing and our lunch park being closed for construction. (Where were you on that one, google maps?)
For further, less tangible musings, click here.
|Monday July 9 2007||File under: travel|
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|A wise man once said, "If you put your vibe out into the universe, the universe will respond", or something along those lines*. Well, I've been putting out the trivia vibe into the universe recently (reading Ken Jennings's Braniac, watching Jeopardy as often as possible, and composing a little trivia challenge of my own (to be released at the next game night)). The universe did its job and responded brilliantly.
The Back Porch Cafe (the cute little cafe/restaurant/food-buying-for-eating* place connected to The Business) held its first monthly (or so they say) Quiz Night. There were 5 teams of four members each. Play consisted of 2 30-minute rounds in written format. Topics included 80s metal*, geography, food additives, the heart, Antarctica, and pictures of dudes (as seen here). While the style of these questions didn't quite suit me, I had a great time nonetheless.
After a rout in the first round putting us in the lead by 5.5 points, we got to feeling pretty cocky. Yep, we aced geography and food additives. Round 2, however, we didn't do so hot, getting only 1.5 points on the pictures of dudes category*. In the end, we came in second by a lousy half a point. Oh well, there is always next month. I, for one, will definitely be there.
|Friday July 6 2007||File under: Anacortes, games|
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|Small town parades are one of the great joys of living in Anacortes. Sure, it is mostly classic cars, candy, kids on bikes, and shameless commercialism (although this guy spiced it up, making me feel better about bowing out of my two year tradition). But chances are, you know somebody in at least one of the troupes which always makes it fun. Plus, walking down the streets, you are bound to run into people you haven't seen in a while, and it is always good to catch up.
One of the bummers that gets me every year is the on-it's-way-to-the-trash-heap crap that Shell Oil and others insist on throwing to the masses. Stop by Kiwanis the week after the parade, and I bet you'll find hundreds of those unthrowable frisbees stuck in purgatory on the shelves. And those are the ones that didn't end up the garbage, like I'm sure the majority of them did. Also, do we really need to pretend we are New Orleans and do the beads thing? The plastic crap is one aspect of the parade I could do without.
On the up side, however, there was a pleasant counterpoint, a new addition to this year's parade. A troupe advocating carbon reduction marched along advocating living in harmony with nature, using bikes and public transportation, and more*. Star of their group was the much talked about electric car.
Yep, living in a small town ain't so bad at all. Top it all off with a top notch fireworks display this evening, and I'll pick Anacortes's Fourth of July any day.
|Wednesday July 4 2007||File under: Anacortes, pics|
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|It seems the talk amongst people my age these days is babies. Everyone is either having them, thinking about having them, reading blogs about them, or fawning over someone else's. Put me in the latter category.
This past week, I've had the opportunity of chilling with Ms. Clara (of Emily and Clara fame) while she and her mom were out visiting from Las Vegas. It is sometimes hard to appreciate the little observations and joys shared on other baby blogs like IHJ and SMaL by those of us that are so far removed from the baby world. Passing time with a young 'un this past week enhanced that appreciation for those little things* you are always hearing people talk about.
Anyway, it was an awesome visit what with the beach, garden, frisbee, goobering, walking, and whatnot.
(First item on the agenda after a week of baby time: a three hour nap. Good times.)
|Sunday July 1 2007||File under: Anacortes, pics|
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|In my continued pursuit for a life of multiple income streams (as opposed to, say, getting a real job), I recently lined up a juggling gig at a local school. Now I am far from what one might think of when you thinks of a professional juggler. I don't have a standard routine, I don't wear a flashy costume, I don't have the obligatory audience participation bit, and I tell the occasional funny joke*. My "act" is more about building excitement and education, perfectly suited for the 10-18 year-old age group.
It turns out that there couldn't have been a better match between my "performance" style and these kids enthusiasm and learning style. They were attentive and duly impressed by my time on stage and asked lots of questions. When the education portion came around, they tried their hand at all my toys and each found his calling, more or less. There were "Hey, Wren! Check this out"s all around, which can't help but make any educator/coach smile.
Not only was the juggling experience great, but the visit to the school was great as well. The school is a live-in school on a nearby island, so the trip out was through the San Juans on calm seas with beautiful weather. How many people can say that they commute to work on a boat? The school grounds are very well kept and super conducive to playing outside, which is essentially what we did my whole time there.
This great experience was made all the greater in that it fits in with my ideal livelihood concept: getting paid for the many different things we have to offer and that we enjoy doing. So if anyone happens to need a juggler, housesitter, web developer, tutor, laborer, cheese tester*, public transportation coach, or environmental consultant, give me a call.
|Wednesday June 27 2007||File under: work, juggling|
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|Scrapbooking is all the rage these days. Back in my employed days at www.PhotoWorks.com*, we were always taking the scrapbooking crowd into account when designing our products. ("Who would possibily want to order an empty book? Oh yeah, scrapbookers.") Besides knowing that scrap bookers might want to purchase an empty book and fill it with pictures themselves, I didn't really know much of the nitty-gritty about the world of scrapbooking.
When I got back from Asia, I was thinking that I should a book together for myself. I had saved maps, ticket stubs, and of course had lots of pictures. When looking around and talking to people about scrapbooking, I found that it was much more complicated than putting pictures and ticket stubs in a book. You needed embellishments. "Embellishments, embellishments, embellishments", a scrapper* friend told me.
That same friend recently put together a scrapbook of my scooter trip for me as a gift. Let me tell you, it was a fine piece of work. Embellishments galore! Now that I have an idea of what a proper scrapbook looks like, I might have a go at my Asia one again. Not that I have a chance of equaling the style that is this, this, and this, but I can try.
|Saturday June 23 2007||File under: pics, misc|
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|Sunny days here in the Pacific Northwest aren't as frequent as some other places in the world. In fact, we probably rank pretty low on the number-of-sunny-days-per-year list. But for a brief time during the summer, the sunny days outnumber the grey ones reminding all us Washingtonians that NW Washington is a great place to live.
For this month's Environmental Project of the Month, I thought I would focus on the sun. Part one of the project is nothing new for me, but I want to share it in hopes of encouraging you to give it a try. Hang drying clothes is a wonderful way to harness the power of the sun and save electricity [and fossil fuels, if you have a gas powered dryer]. Not only is it great for the environment, hanging your clothes on the line is a great excuse to be outside on a beautiful day, if even for 10 minutes or so. Drying your clothes on the line isn't a summer only practice, even here in the northwest. For the past 5 years or so, I would say 90-95% of my drying needs have been met by the sun and wind.
Part two of this month's EPotM is what I am really excited about. From junk found around the house, I've built a solar oven. (Plans abound on the internet if you are interested in giving it a try yourself.) Basically an insulated cardboard box with aluminum foil covered collectors, a well made solar cooker can get to 250-275 degrees. In test runs, I've only got mine up to 214. Right now, I've got a couple of baking potatoes and some lentil beans cooking. We'll see how my first home solar-cooked meal turns out.
For those of us not ready or not in a place to make the leap to photovoltaic panels for supplementing our electricity needs (or even for those who are), harnessing the power of the sun through simple methods is a great way to reduce our impact. And speaking of how awesome the sun is, check out this audio ode to the sun. (For those of you at work (esp. in cubicles), be warned: The audio is embedded and hidden in the page so no volume controls or stop button is present. When will people learn that just because you can doesn't mean that you should?)
|Tuesday June 19 2007||File under: food, environment|
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