Friday, June 29, 2007

Ay Carumba! Dinner at Oba

Mom and Dad gave us a gift card to Oba, a restaurant in the Pearl district of Portland, for Christmas. Ricky and I hadn't used it yet, so after we finished bark dusting yesterday we decided to shower and take ourselves out for a treat.

Boy, was it ever a treat! They recommend reservations, but since we went on a whim we didn't have any. We could have waited 20-30 minute for a table in the dining room, but instead we opted for immediate seating in the lounge. There wasn't quite as much atmosphere, and it was louder, but it also meant we got to eat right away, and we were both very hungry.

It was very difficult to make a decision on what the heck to eat. Everything on the menu looked so good. Originally Ricky was going to have the butternut squash enchiladas, then he started talking about the shrimp and scallop tamales. You can imagine my surprise, then, when our server appeared and he ordered the mesquite flank steak!

Ricky's steak was served with Spanish blue cheese, mashed potatoes, and grilled vegetables including corn and asparagus. It looked good, even to a non-meat eater like me! I had two tapas, or small plates, perfect for people who want to try more than one item. My meal consisted of 6 prawns in a coconut-orange batter with a jalapeno-citrus marmalade (simply divine!!) as well as a sampler platter of 3 ceviches (citrus marinaded seafood salad) - rock fish with avocado and tomato, bay scallops with tropical fruits (my favorite!), and prawn with coconut-ginger marinade.

For dessert we shared a "Baked Argentina," their version of a baked Alaska. It was a chocolate cake, topped with banana slices and caramel, then vanilla ice cream and, of course, the meringue. It was delicious!

We left the restaurant completely stuffed but very happy. The perfect end to a day of working in our yard.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You got that vibe too, huh?

I got a call from the aforementioned school where I was asked what kind of a commitment I'd make to them.

They said, and I quote:

You are not one of our selected did a very nice job on your interview...unfortunately, it's just not the right fit...

Huh. Really? Who'da thunk that it was not the right fit?!

I think this is the first time I've ever been happy to NOT be hired for a job.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

So, how much of a commitment can we expect from you?

I had the most bizarre interview today.

I interviewed in a small town about 90 minutes from home. This would mean we'd have to move to, essentially, the boonie. But hey, you do what you have to do to further your career, right?

Anyway, I went and interviewed and from the beginning had a weird vibe. Whoever was being interviewed before me got a ton of laughs, but when I got in there...deadpan. Nothing I said was funny. I got a couple of pity laughs but not the roaring belly laughs I heard during the previous interview.

Well anyway, we're going along and I'm anwering their very wordy questions (who writes an entire paragraph for an interview question??) and then we get to the one that still has me puzzled:

Looking at your current goals and your long term future in education, what can we expect your commitment to be to this school for the next 3-5 years?

Huh? How can I possibly know that now? I have no idea if I'll like them, if they'll like me, if I'll get homesick for the big(ger) city, if Ricky will get transferred to Timbuktu. So I told them that I would like to say that I'd retire from their school, but that I can't do that because I don't know what the future holds. However, I continued, my intention is to make at least a 3 year commitment to them.

In retrospect, I wish I'd said that I would be on time every day during my employ with them. That'd I'd give them 110% every day that I worked there, and that I can guarantee no one else would care for their students the way I would.

Anyway, they also said that if they offer me the job they expect an acceptance right then and there. Huh. Interesting.

So for the first time in my life, I'm hoping I'm not offered the job.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thoughts on Moving

I spent the weekend in central Oregon interviewing for a teaching position. I came, I saw, I looked at a million houses, and then went home.

Things I Learned While There:

1) It is dry and dusty, which is not good for a person who is allergic to dust.

2) It's small.

3) Housing isn't cheap, but it's more affordable than I expected. We could even buy a bigger house than we have now!

4) It's a small town.

5) No place is very far from anything else, but it's also not as easy to bike from the burbs to downtown.

6) Did I mention it's a small town??

I'm not completely thrilled with the idea of moving, but it would be an adventure and something new. And of course, it' not an irreversible decision. Now I just have to wait and see what they say - it's possible (and with my track record, probable) that I won't get the position anyway!

Two more interviews next week...with any luck I'll be gainfully employed in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Procrastination Station

We're headed out of town for an interview this evening. Ricky's sister is house and dog sitting, so I'm finishing getting the house cleaned up so she doesn't have to live in our filth. The kitchen and bathroom are completely clean, and the living room is almost done. I don't have that much left - just straightening up our bedroom and vacuuming everything - but what am I doing instead?

That's right, finding as many ways as possible to procrastinate.

This is ridiculous. I'm a big girl now, I should know better, and yet here I sit...playing on the computer, reading books, doing anything but finishing up. It takes me back to when I was younger and cleaning my room at home. It would take hours, days even, to finish a 1 or 2 hour job because I had to look at every picture and read every book I came across.

The good new is I have gotten better since then. The bad news is that while I am better, I do still procrastinate.

Just 5 more minutes of procrastination, and then I'll get back to work...I promise!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Trash The Dress

I was playing around on the internet and happened upon the website I looked and looked at those beautiful pictures of brides having fun in their wedding dresses and thought, hmmm, what a fun thing to do with a wedding dress that's just taking up space. Too bad I can't take part.

And then I realized...I can take part! My wedding dress has never even been cleaned (yes, I am ashamed) and currently it's part rolled/part folded and sitting on a shelf in my closet. Hey, it's better than when we first got married - it sat exactly where I'd stepped out of it for about a month.

So here I am with a wonderful husband who thinks this is a fantastic idea, a dress that I (hopefully) can still get into, and the prospect of a photographer. All we have to do now is come up with a scenario for our trashing session. That's where you come in.

Please leave me comments and let me know what you think we should do. Ricky and I plan to do it together - our first professional pictures since our wedding nearly 5 years ago (can it really have been that long?!). We want it to reflect our personalities and the things we enjoy doing, and we definitely want it to be something unique.

And in case you need some inpiration, here are some photos from the website:

Father's Day: A Review

I had the honor of taking my dad out on Sunday for Father's Day. I love my dad, and I love spending time with him. It's even more fun when I get to treat him to something he really wants to do.

We parked on the MAX line and were lucky enough to be able to take a ride on one of Portland's replica trolleys. The trolleys only run on Sundays, and only between Lloyd Center and The Galleria (10th st). We enjoyed the ride on the trolley car and were thoroughly entertained by the conductor at the rear of the car who regaled us with stories and historical facts about various buildings and public places in Portland.

We exited the trolley at 3rd and Morrison and had a quick lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery. Dad managed to confuse the waitstaff with his order of a steak Caesar - something not on the menu but easy enough to make. However, our waitress couldn't seem to understand that he wanted a large, entree size chicken Caesar salad - but hold the chicken and add some steak. After a few minutes of slow, monosyllabic words and hand gestures, she finally figured it out. For once, I had the easy order of Chicken Enchiladas with sour cream. Yum!

The funny part of our day came as we were sitting there waiting for our food, and all of a sudden we realized that there were lots of, umm, interesting people piling into the tables around us. Then we remembered - the Gay Pride parade was in Portland that day and many parade goers chose to dine at Rock Bottom as well. We definitely saw some interesting outfits and hairdos.

After our lunch, we headed to OMSI to tour the USS Blueback, a decommissioned United States submarine. It's something Dad's been saying he's going to do for ages, but never had. We took about a 45 minute tour of the boat, learning all kind of interesting (and funny!) things, and had the pleasure of having a sub vet on our tour who shared some of his own experiences. It was really interesting, and gave me a new respect for what my Uncle Ron did back in the day. I can't imagine living in such close quarters with so many other people. And I thought our house was small! (if you want to learn more about the Blueback, visit the web page)

Afterward we went home and I pitched to Dad in my quest to be ready for summer league by our first game, July 12. How fitting that we spend part of Father's day doing what we did so many days for so many years. Do you realize I started pitching 18 years ago?! Then Mom, Dad and I sat down to a great meal of BBQ chicken, salad, and baked potato.

All in all, it was a really great day. I hope Dad had as much fun as I did.

Movie Review: Last King of Scotland

What a wonderful, creepy, disturbing, sad, terrible movie. We really enjoyed it, but it leaves you with a bit of a hollow feeling simply because of the subject matter.

Forrest Whitaker really did do a fantastic job. He wins you over with his charm, and then, BAM! The guy who played Nick (I think that's the character's name) was wonderful - and I love the Scottish accent.

I recommend it, but only if you're in the mood for something that will make you think.

Movie Review: Epic Movie

Two hours of my life I can never have back. I think that movie made me dumber.

Seriouly, don't bother.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ok, so maybe I'm not so sophisticated when it comes to food

I get done with a yummy Indian meal and what do I have for dessert?

A Rocky Road and Diet 7-Up float.

Best float ever.

I think I'm adopted

Ok, so not really. Anyone who knows me knows that I look exactly like my dad and grandma, and have the same personality as my dad in a lot of ways. So there's no way that I'm adopted. But when it comes to food, I have no idea where I came from.

This dawned on me tonight as I was sitting here dining on Shrimp Tikka Masala with Naan and rice. Yum. But I have no idea where my love of different foods came from, because I certainly didn't grow up with them.

My dad is a picky eater. He eats very few vegetables - green beans and corn are the only cooked veggies he'll eat, and he eats a few more raw, but you can probably count the number of veggies he'll eat without taking off your socks or shoes. He's very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy. And while he likes good food, he's not very adventurous. I think the most ethnic thing he's ever eaten is Sechuan Beef from Imperial Garden.

Mom, on the other hand, is a bit more adventurous, but she doesn't like spicy things too well and she definitely doesn't like curry.

I, on the other hand, love all things Indian and Moroccan. I adore sushi. In fact, it's rare in our house to eat something "normal" anymore. Ricky and I both love the non-traditional, and lately my heart has been in India. Curry, Garam Masala, cardamom...yum.

The question is, how in the world did I learn to love these things? I was never exposed to them growing up, but in the past few years I've come to replace my regular meals with things like chicken korma, paneer (yum!!!), chutney, samosas, Oregon rolls, pesto, gnocchi, and all kinds of other foods that are definitely not the norm.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We're buying a new car!

Ok, so not really. But we are probably going to be purchasing our very first brand new vehicle in the next month or so.

So it's not a car, it's a scooter. It's a People 250 made by Kymco, and it's a pretty cool little bike. We're actually getting it in "wine," which is a metallic maroon. With gas at $3 a gallon or more, this thing will be like heaven - the manufacturer says it's rated at 70 mpg, but we hear it may get even 75 or 80!
We're pretty excited, just need to make sure everything is in place financially for it to happen. But then, look out! I'll be a motorcycle mama...well, not really - it's not a "real" motorcycle, and I'm not a mama. I guess I'll be a cute little scooter girl. Not quite as catchy huh?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ding! Ding! On Your Left

Today I was driving to the farmer's market. As I was going down the road, I got behind a group of 4 bikers. Yay for them! However, they were riding 4 abreast. Yes, that's right, 4 abreast, meaning they covered the entire lane. There was no way for me to get around them. None. Nada.

They knew I was there, but did they pull to the side? No!

Now, I am probably more patient with cyclists than a lot of drivers, simply because Ricky and I ride our bikes all over the place and I know that it can be intimidating to have cars driving right up your back wheel. But seriously, people, have some courtesy. Anytime Ricky and I notice that there is a car behind us, we immediately pull as far over to the right as we can and ride single file until the car passes us.

So the truck is practically stalling in first gear because I'm driving so slowly, and cars are piling up behind me, and these cyclists are still riding abreast.

If only I could have hollered "on your left!" like we do on the trail.

Oh well, I did finally get out from behind them and made it to the farmer's market where I purchased 2 gorgeous and huge flower baskets and several colorful plants to be potted in my yard. It's beginning to look a lot like summer around here!

Movie Review: Notes on a Scandal

Ricky and I rented Notes on a Scandal last night on a whim. We had absolutely no expectations going in and probably would have passed right over it if it weren't for my girl crush on Judi Dench. I've loved her since I first saw Shakespeare in Love (which is fantabulous, by the way).

We both enjoyed the Notes, though I think it probably was more my type of movie than Ricky's. It's a bit creepy, sad, and uncomfortable, but quite arty. The character development was superb, the relationships and commentary on society striking, and the girl who played Cate Blanchett's daughter was too cute for words.

The cinematography wasn't anything special, but it wasn't that kind of movie. No amazing special effects, no crazy stuntmen. Just a movie about human life and how twisted we can be.

Trail Gazing

This was in our local newspaper on Friday. It's an article about the Spring Water Corridor, which is just a couple of block from where we live. Ricky and I can be found on the trail just about every weekend, and often during the week. It's how we get to Sellwood and downtown Portland. Jacko goes too; he loves going to bike rides on the trail!

Trail gazing
The Springwater Corridor, our longest and most revealing park: an appreciation
Friday, June 08, 2007
GRANT BUTLER The Oregonian

The Springwater Corridor began life in 1903 as the Springwater Division Line, a commuter railway designed to take folks from downtown Portland to outlying communities such as Estacada and Eagle Creek, as well as to places including Cedarville and Cazadero, which have been relegated to the history books as they were incorporated into other towns.

At its peak in 1910, Portland's extensive system of commuter trains carried 16 million passengers a year on a web of more than 160 miles of rails. The line that became the corridor could take people out to Gresham in roughly the same time that it takes a MAX train today.

By the 1950s, the rail travel was petering out as roadways improved and the automobile became the preferred mode for getting around. By 1958, passenger service was dropped.

In 1990, plans for today's trail were hatched when the city of Portland acquired big portions of the corridor, with the rest being picked up by Metro in the years since. The first stretches of the Springwater Corridor opened in 1996, with the three-mile portion along the Willamette River opening in 2003. Last year the three bridges connecting the trail over McLoughlin closed the gap, making possible one continuous ride.

There are further hopes to pave the gravel portion of the trail -- which runs roughly two miles from Gresham to Boring -- and eventually to extend the trail to Estacada or even as far as Government Camp.

Love it, just not to death
Portland Bureau of Parks & Recreation and Metro, which jointly manage the Springwater Corridor, don't have firm numbers on how many people walk or ride it on any given day. Surveys like that require funding, senior planner Gregg Everhart points out, and that's money the agencies would rather spend on trail improvements and future acquisitions.

But when you spend several days on the trail, you notice plenty of anecdotal evidence of trends. On weekdays there are spikes in bicycle riders during peak commuting hours, when you can stand in one spot along the Willamette stretch and count 20 to 30 cyclists going by a minute. On weekends the action is steady all day long, though the highest usage areas are around Gresham's Main City Park and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

All of that usage holds a danger, restoration ecologist Mart Hughes says. The wildlife areas are delicate, and when people get off the trail they can cause tremendous damage. "People don't understand the impact that a single footprint can have."

Staying on the trail, he says, is the price for keeping the wetlands pristine and the wildlife thriving. Really, there's so much to see from the trail that there's no reason to go off-road anyway.

What are you waiting for?
At this point, we've gotta ask what you're still doing reading this article. Put on your walking shoes or saddle up on your cycle: The Springwater Corridor is out there waiting. Tackle a mile or two here and there or take a day and ride the whole thing. You'll exercise your body. You'll feed your mind.

And if you get out there early enough, you just might spy one of those white-tailed deer, out foraging for a bit of breakfast before the next cyclist comes along

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Somewhere, an old man is snoring

Because it's definitely raining and pouring here. I'm not sure what happened - a couple of weeks ago we were having 85-90 degree weather on a regular basis. Not that I'm a huge fan; I much prefer it to be 75 and breezy. But 90 degree weather in May?! That never happens around here!

And now it's June, and all of a sudden it's absolutely pouring. Not that I should be surprised - it is Rose Festival week, after all, and everyone knows it always rains during Rose Festival. I am so glad I wasn't out at the parade this morning - it looked miserable!

Instead, I came down to my favorite rainy day spot, Spring Creek Coffee House, for lunch. I am now enjoying a piece of vegetarian lasagna and a sugar free vanilla latte. And of course, free Wi-Fi. Ah, high speed internet is so enjoyable!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Well, I'm still unemployed

I found out last night that I was not hired at our local high school.

If I have to answer "do you know why?" one more time, I just might scream. So once and for all, here's why:

I was out politicked. I knew the right people, but not all the right people. The feedback I got was "we really enjoyed your interview, but..." and then "I really want you here, we're going to try to get you here." Which means nothing when you consider that they want me but didn't bother to hire me. Ok then.

So it's back to t he drawing board. There are several other positions for which I'm applying, but they're not as ideal. However, we're at the start of year 4 of a job search, so at this point I suppose ideal shouldn't really be in my vocabulary huh? I've even applied for a position that would require us to move, and possibly require Ricky and I to live apart for a while until our house sold. I don't want to move - especially not to that part of Oregon - but we will of we have to. We've got to get my career going somehow.

But then, after so long, I wonder if maybe I'm not pursuing the wrong career. I know that I'm good at what I do - but maybe I would be incredible in another field. I don't know. I know that I love high school kids, and I love theatre, and this seemed the ideal way to combine them, but maybe I missed a memo somewhere.

Anyway, to those that did not get a personal call or email about the job thing, I apologize. As you can probably imagine, I'm just worn out and I don't really feel like talking about it in depth anymore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Starlight Parade

Every year Portland has the Rose Festival, and every year Rose Festival sort of kicks of with the Starlight Parade. It's not the official kick off, but it's what gets it all going in my mind.

Ricky and I started going a couple of years ago when his sister was carrying the banner for her high school's marching band. His parents, a family friend, Ricky and I all went and had a great time. That must have been her Junior or Senior year, so 3 or 4 years ago I guess. Anyway, then we went again last year, and decided to keep the tradition going.

We rode our bikes through Sellwood and stopped at our favorite pub. We were disappointed when we got there, as we had the dog with us and both outside tables were occupied. However, one gentleman noticed our dilemma and offered to move indoors. We were very grateful (and bought his beer to thank him). Jacko lay under the table while we ate and he was so good. We were actually a little surprised at how well behaved he was. And of course, everyone commented on how cute he was.

After a wonderful meal we continued our bicycle journey to downtown Portland, where we found a place to watch the parade. Again, Jacko surprised and impressed us with his good behavior. Many people came to pet him, and several commented on how well behaved he was. One person even asked how we trained him!

The parade is one of the highlight's of our summer. It's wacky and goofy, and not at all what you expect in a parade. It begins with a run. Technically I think it's a race, though I don't know that you get anything if you win - the satisfaction of a job well done and hopefully no blisters, I suppose. But it's turned into this weird Portland tradition where people dress up in silly costumes. We saw PacMan being chased by two of the monsters, several brides, people in togas, a pregnant lady in a grass skirt and coconut shells, a guy in a grass skirt and coconut shells, and various other random costumes.

The best one this year was someone in this getup that was a model of the tram. Portland has a new tram, and while it's very cool, it's also been very controversial. This guy had this whole get up with two trams on pulleys.

After the runners, the parade comes. There are lots of high school marching bands, the One More Time Around Again Marching band (a group of people out of high school who want to continue to be in a marching band) the Star Wars people (I have no idea who they are or what they do but they are always in the parade), and lots of other floats. There are dog rescues that have floats, floats from other festivals in the northwest, and local companies.

All in all it's a good time with lots of craziness and fun (and funny!) entries. While the Grand Floral Parade (which is next weekend) draws a larger crowd, Ricky and I definitely prefer the starlight parade. And of course, our tradition of riding our bikes down to the parade and home again makes it even more fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

It's a small world after all

Ricky and I went to the Starlight Parade tonight (more on that tomorrow, complete with pictures!) and as we were walking to our bikes to head home, we ran into my high school friend, Jake. The funny part is that he's a cop and was working. I walked up to him and said "I'm lost!" He obiously didn't even really look at me because he simply said "ok, hold on a minute." When I said, "Jake, it's me, Laura" - then the light went on. We talked for a few minutes and then I had to run to catch up to Ricky and Jacko.

Anyway, it was good to see him. I haven't talked to him since I did my Master's, so about 3 years. It's strange, the people I was so close to in high school - we talked every night, he was my best guy friend - I hardly talk to at all anymore. It's sad, I don't like it that way.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Cleaning up Bertman House

The theatre company I work with, New Century Players, has been homeless since it's inception in Dec of 2003. Recently, the City of Milwaukie was kind enough to give us an historic home to use, provided that we clean it up, fix it up, and take care of it from here on out.

Given that said house was vacant for 4 years before we moved in, you can imagine how much fixing up there was to do. Kelley spent a day simply cleaning toilets - can you imagine what 4 years' buildup looked like? I can't and I'm sure glad Kel got it cleaned up before I got there!

Anyway, we all took to the house on this bright, hot June Saturday to begin patching holes, painting, and ridding our lives of the wood wall paneling (my eyes, my eyes!).

First, we had to clean everything off. Donna is sportin' the oh so sexy orange gloves as she cleans the wall and fireplace mantel.

Then, we took everything of the walls and began patching holes. Here you can see Nancy removing a curtain rod while Sarah and Rich look for spackle.

Joe and Rich took to spackling the kitchen - look at all those holes! - as Ellen, resident costumer and newspaper reporter, heads out the door to cover a story for the paper.

Armed with a paint brush, Elisabeth tackled the kitchen walls.

And of course, no theatre event would be complete without someone taking a goofy picture. Please excuse my multiple chins...I forgot not to pull my head in toward my neck!

All in all, we got a lot done, and there are more workdays scheduled for the future. Hopefully this new house will be a blessing. If nothing else, at least we won't have to store things in the basements, garages and vehicles of company members anymore!