Archive for the ‘meanderings’ Category


This past weekend we took visiting friends to the Japanese Garden; one of my favorite places in Portland.  Our first visit was almost exactly a year ago and since then we have been back at least once in every season.


You might imagine that late summer would not be a time to see the gardens at their best. That the lack of rain and (this summer at least) hot days would leave the grasses brown and the trees listless.  Instead, the gardens were cool and lush


and there were remarkable images around every corner.





I look forward to returning in the fall.

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Yesterday we left Manzanita and drove up the coast to Astoria.  We are staying at the Cannery Pier Hotel, which, as the name implies, is right on the river on the site of the former Union Fish Cannery.  The view from our room is majestic.


That’s Washington at the other end of the bridge.

After we checked in to our lovely room, we set out for a walk into town.  The woman at the desk recommended that we walk along the Astoria Riverwalk, part of the national rails to trails program.  The trail is a paved walkway along the Columbia River that now carries a trolley instead of a full sized train.


The scenery was mostly industrial as we passed working wharves and the back sides of fish and crab processing plants.




Some of the sites were rustier than others.




Downtown was an interesting mix of newly renovated and hip spots like the Commodore Hotel, designed  and converted by the Portland-based owners of the very cool and retro Schoolhouse Electric Company, in progress renovation, like the new Bergerson Tile and Stone showroom, where we met one of the members of the Bergerson family,


older buildings,


and thrift stores, where I found a few interesting items like the books on this shelf,


and this collection of recipes that I (seriously) may have to go back and buy later today.



On the way back to the hotel by a slightly different route we saw the remains of a 600+ year old Douglas Fir.


Today we are thinking of going back downtown for the Astoria Sunday Market.

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It’s about time I wrote something about knitting.  I had planned to make this vacation a time to read, relax, and knit.  It took me a few days to get to the knitting, but I finally spent all of yesterday afternoon on the couch with a project.

I was inspired by a book and two knitting stores, probably in just about that order.

When we visited Cannon Beach on Wednesday we stopped into the Cannon Beach Book Company, one of those perfect independent bookstores that you can sometimes find in small towns.  They have a great selection of current and classic fiction and non fiction, as well as a great mystery section.  They also had a knitting book I had never seen:


The book is called Yarn Bombing (it’s the one on top here).  It was written by two women who also maintain a website of the same name and it’s about knitted graffiti.  Really.  Check it out.

It was just what I needed to send me into the closest knitting store.  Luckily, Coastal Yarns was handy and I ran in and bought some beautiful yarn.


As soon as I got back to Manzanita I went over to T Spot, where they sell yarn, tea and chocolate, and bought some more yarn and a second book (the one about crocheting in the picture).

Since then I have been knitting and plotting my options as a yarnbomber.  I’m not sure what my strategy will be, but keep your eyes open for knitting in unexpected places.


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The other day we decided to drive over to Nehalem Bay State Park for a walk on the beach. The park is located on a spit of land that runs parallel to Hwy 101 just south of Manzanita. On the ocean side, there are high dunes and a wide sandy beach.


You probably can’t tell, but this picture shows sand being blown in the fierce wind that was gusting around us that afternoon. After a very short walk, we decided to head back over the dunes to what we hoped would be the less breezy, bay side of the spit.


Fortunately, the dunes provided a barrier to the wind and we were able to wander comfortably for over an hour.

One of the most visually interesting features of this beach were the rafts of driftwood piled up along the dunes. There were tree trunks and branches of all kinds everywhere you looked.


Some of the logs had great features made more distinctive by weathering, like holes



and cracks

treecrackand aging bark.


Of course, given my tendency to look at the ground, I also noticed the rocks, even when they were partly buried in the sand.



And then, just as we were getting ready to leave, I saw this:


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Showing friends around your new home town has to be one of the most intimidating, and potentially exciting, challenges one can face.  It can be a total disaster or an eye-opening adventure that lets you see things from a new perspective.

I was fortunate to have the second kind of experience as I took my old friend M and my new friend C around Portland over the last two days.


The visit began somewhat crankily, with what should have been a simple three hour train trip from Tacoma, WA to Portland expanding through a cascade of difficulties into a nine hour journey that resulted in an eleven pm arrival.  Too late for a real dinner, we hurried to Clyde Common to take advantage of their late night bar menu.  Worn out, we headed home to sleep.

First Day

The next morning S sadly headed to work and M, C and I  made our way to breakfast at the Bijou Cafe.  There we feasted on, among other things, their renowned Oyster Hash, a plate full of cornmeal dusted oysters, potatoes and onions that provided a perfect base for the day.

Our next stop, inevitably, was Powell’s, where I managed to find a substantial stack of books to take home.  There is something magical about exploring the rooms and rooms filled with books and seeing all of the people there who want to read them; it casts a spell on me that always results in a big purchase.

After leaving my new books in the car, we walked through the Pearl stopping here and there to window shop or explore local stores. One of my favorites for wandering through is Cargo, always a feast for the eyes and imagination.




As a next stop, we decided to head to the Lewis & Clark College campus where we found S and took a look around.



A scenic drive through the Sellwood neighborhood and an expensive stop in Multnomah Village at Switch Shoes brought us home for a brief rest before our dinner reservation at Andina.  There we had a fantastic meal of shared small plates that ranged from a fresh citrus-drenched cebiche to the subtly flavored, delicately salted musciame de atun (cured tuna loin).

Second Day

The big plan for day two was a trip to taste some wine.  Before embarking, though, we headed to N. Mississippi Avenue for an amazing breakfast at Gravy and a quick stop for chocolates and salt at The Meadow.


At about 12:30 we picked S up at work and headed for Willamette Valley wine country.

Our first two stops were at the Adelsheim and Penner-Ash vineyards, both of which specialize in pinot noirs made from grapes grown locally in the Willamette Valley AVA.

fromthe winery

We then headed a bit further west to Cana’s Feast where they specialize in Italian style wines from grapes grown in southern Washington state.


Finally, we stopped in the town of Carlton and slid into the Tasting Room, a small shop that specializes in wines from smaller producers who don’t have their own vineyard tasting rooms.


At last, with a car filled with bottles, and having tasted at least 20 different wines, we headed back to Portland and dinner at Ken’s Artisan Pizza, a perfect end to two days of eye-opening exploration, conversation, and laughs.


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In looking back over the pictures I have taken over the past few months, one accidental theme is apparent.  I seem to take a lot of pictures of signs.  Maybe they help to remind me of where I am, or maybe they tell me something about where I am going.






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pea soup with mint

What do you remember about someone else’s wedding?  The music? The new people you meet?  The cake?  The wedding we attended yesterday was memorable in all of those ways and more.

The setting.




The ceremony.



The people.


The bathroom.


The party.



And the infinitely smooth, fresh, green taste of the pea soup with mint.


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