This post was inspired by my sister Kim and her new camera lens. When I purchased my camera last summer, I purchased two lenses. One an 18-200mm zoom lens that I am addicted to. The other, a 105mm micro (macro for non-Nikon users) lens which, until today, I am embarrassed to say I had never even put on the camera. So, I took a break from gardening and tried out my lens (not new, but certainly never been used).
It was a lot of fun. It was an adjustment not being able to just zoom in to right where I wanted it, but it was fun getting REALLY close to things and still being able to focus. There were lots of bees out today just waiting to be models.
A chive blossom:
Foxglove in the cutting garden. I love how everything in the background kind of looks like an impressionist painting:
On this one I wanted to see just exactly how close I could get to something. I was literally right on top of this lavender rhododendron:
A peony bud in the cutting garden, no aphids or anything, awesome. The ladybugs were also out in full force today, but just not while I was taking pictures:
We have a brand new plum tree and this is one of the very first plums. I love how you can even see the fine lines of the cobweb:
Lilac blossom, oh they smell so good:
Here's looking at you, little bee:
Friends hanging out in the lavender patch:
Ah, a photo shoot at our house wouldn't be complete without a picture of Lily. Her eyes weren't even bloodshot today--Michael remembered the Claritin:
In honor of a very special friend's very special birthday... which actually happened last year and for which we had a lovely celebration today--exactly one year later, I say
Happy Birthday Dana!
I feel very bad that I missed the significance of last year's birthday because Dana is a special friend who asks for little and gives so much. How did I let that day come and go without acknowledging its significance? Dana is that friend that is always there and always cares. She has picked up my kids from childcare, preschool, elementary school, synagogue, middle school & high school (even when her kids didn't go to that school). In an emergency, she has been there to pick up Lily from doggie daycare. She is on every one of our emergency lists across the city, right after my Mom and Dad and has been for over 10 years. She is a shoulder to cry on and a friend to laugh with--and we do laugh, a lot. I love to travel with Dana, we love bus tours and room service and laughing about the funny people we meet, especially on said bus tours.
A little story about one of my favorite trips... in early January 2004 a huge snow & ice storm hit Portland. No big deal except we were scheduled on a Caribbean cruise leaving out of New Orleans at the end of the week. Our flight was set to leave Portland on Wednesday with a stop in San Francisco and then on to NoLA. No problem except they closed PDX (which they hardly ever do) and I knew there was no way they were going to open it in time for our flight. I was devastated. I LOVE New Orleans, not to mention there was no way I was missing a cruise.
So I fretted and fretted and then I begged Michael to put the chains on the car. I called up the Melnicks and said "we're driving to San Francisco to catch our connection... are you with us" and of course--they were--and we did. We left Portland at 8:00pm on Tuesday night and drove all night and arrived in SFO with a couple hours to spare before catching our flight to New Orleans. It worked. And, they ended up not opening up the Portland Airport until Sunday... the day our cruise sailed. There is no way we would have made it. We got to spend our 4 days in one of my favorite cities and then we cruised the Caribbean stopping in Belize, Honduras and Cozumel.
We had such a great time on that trip and I wish we could do it again... tomorrow.
Exactly one year ago today I started my blog: yay!
That was 99 posts ago--so I am celebrating my 100th post--today!
The first entry was called 'A Prom Day in May...' and this, my friends, one year later is another post about Prom.... funny how those kinds of things tend to happen every year, about the same time :-). Thanks to Julia Ruby, Joey's girlfriend, for making it possible for Joey, a sophomore last year, to attend a prom--thus giving me something to blog about. And Happy Birthday Michelle Ruby, another reason to celebrate today!
Yesterday was a huge day for Joey. He started the morning at approximately 7:30am at Sunset High School taking the SAT exam. Crazily enough, he decided to schedule his SAT exam for the same day as the Catlin Gabel Junior/Senior Prom.... a prom that he was in charge of (any bets on whether he will be taking the SAT again sometime soon). As Junior class President, Prom is one of his biggest responsibilities. Knowing Joey pretty well at this point, I decided to leave my whole Saturday open--available to him for running errands. Having hosted a few parties myself over the years, I know what happens on the big day. Lots of things go right, but lots of things go wrong too. There are always errands to run and last minute details. Yesterday was no exception. Michael and I started our day picking up Joey's altered Brooks Brother's Seersucker Blazer. Yep, and bow tie. No tuxedos for this kid... and its a little difficult to buy a blazer off the rack when you are smaller than a 36 short, but we did it, and with two days to spare... have I mentioned Joey is a bit of a procrastinator?
Moving right along... so after a crazy stop at the fabric store and then fighting a rain/wind/hail storm trying to get into the party supply store, we made it to the prom site where Joey and his friends were busy setting up.
The Norse Hall: home of the sons of Norway (Norse Hall)
Built in 1928 as a Scandinavian Community Center, the Norse Hall was a pretty cool spot for the Catlin Gabel Prom. I DID actually take this photo yesterday. Funny thing about Portland Spring Weather... one minute you are caught in a hail storm, the next--blue skies. Sorry Michael, he was dreaming of tropical sunny days when the skies let loose and dumped a boat load of cold rain on our heads. He really does need a warm vacation right about now.
Did I mention we picked up 200 balloons at the party supply store that needed to be blown up. Below left is Joey's co-President, Will, and on the right, Jasmine Bath.
Joey's friend Max was there to hang the paper lanterns. A tall ladder and a 6'5" friend are all that is needed to hang things from a ballroom ceiling.
Sara Hensel (left) and Jasmine still working on those balloons. Madame Schuback is in the background. She is the staff liaison for the Prom and Joey's french teacher from last year.
Michael even joined in.
The band, warming up. The band is made up of Juniors and Seniors from Catlin. They had a DJ for most of the prom, but the band was there to close out the night. From the sounds of their warm up, I'm sure they did a great job. They were AWESOME!
Trolls are Scandinavian?
Below: Joey and Madame Schuback cutting loose to the band's warm up.
And, as annoying as it might have been, I made Joey promise that if I showed up during the evening that I would be able to get his and Julia's attention for a photo. They had a photographer at the Prom, but my guess is I will never see those pictures.
Above: Joey and Julia dancing at Prom. Joey is in the light blazer and white shoes, Julia in the short red dress on the right. Julia graduates this year... will she return next year for Joey's Senior Prom and make it a three-peat?
Seriously, they must have been tired. Joey having taken the SAT's all morning and then prom set up all afternoon, Julia having performed in her last official Portland Youth Philharmonic Concert just an hour before.... Congratulations Julia! Julia is off to Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio next year.
I am now starting a series of blogs about our house. I saw our house for the first time approximately 13 years ago. The house was painted an awful color of dark blue gray that basically blended with the most dreary of Oregon skies. You could barely see the house from the street as the front "yard" was completely overgrown. No doubt, originally, the terraced front yard had been manicured. The plants that were now so overgrown had started out as well groomed exotic Rhododendron and Camellia varieties, as well as azaleas and cedars. Unfortunately, even if you could see the house well, you would not have wanted to... it was basically boarded up. The house had been built by my cousin's husband's parents. They had two sons in this house and grew old in this house. Unfortunately, as people often do, they stayed too long in this house and by the time they died, they could no longer take care of this house and the house suffered. The house then sat empty for a few years and by the time we moved in in November 1996, it was 3500 square feet of plywood covered windows, rotten walls and bug infested carpets. All those years of being boarded up tight had merely enhanced the rate of dry rot and mildew. There were no fully working bathrooms. As a matter of fact, one of the bathrooms didn't even have a toilet... just a hole in the floor with a towel stuck in it. The house did have some things going for it... an awesome view and a fantastic location. Plus, it was more than twice the size of our previous house. One of the first rooms to be complete was a quick cosmetic re-do of the family room. Coming in from the garage, which we do about 99.99% of the time, the first room you enter is the family room. I do not actually have any pictures of the original family room... but I will do my best at describing it so we can move forward... it was originally the garage of the house. In 1949 it was converted to a TV room. I'm sure, at the time, it was at the height of TV room fashion, however, more than 45 years later, it was a disaster. The floors were faux black marble vinyl tile... many places were cracked and broken. The walls were a horrible flesh color paneling. The front window was glass block partially covered up by a large custom built plywood cabinet also painted flesh color. There was some pink uplighting (presumably for ambience--because it was so impractical) but 80% of the light bulbs were burnt out. The east wall was a mauve, tan & gray wallpaper mural of downtown Portland. A few years before we purchased the house, the front of the family room (originally the garage) had to be jacked up and re-stabilized due to water damage. In that process, the marble fireplace surround had crumbled and when we moved in to the house, the fireplace was still in pieces on the floor. Since this room was basically not habitable, we spent a few thousand dollars (very few) getting it livable for a play room for Joey & Sammy who were preschool age at the time. The first remodel included taking down the paneling and replacing it with sheet rock. Likewise putting sheet rock over the old (flesh color) acoustic ceiling tiles. The vinyl floor tile was covered with carpet and the glass block was replaced by a window that opened. The marble fireplace surround was replaced by wood. All this lasted for a while. Until I got tired of the wall color, and the carpet color,and the fireplace surround was just too traditional... so after living in the house for about 8 years, we replaced the carpet and wall color and eventually the fireplace surround.
Approximately three months ago, this is what our much used family room looked like:
I decided to splurge and hire the fantastic interior designers that had worked on our office downtown. Enough with the temporary fixes and re-dos--this time is for keeps. The above green sofa used to reside in the GTT offices before we moved into our current fancy high rise. Chloe had spent a good deal of time using the corners as a nice handy scratching post and Sammy and his friends had done their share to give the sofa that "lived in" feel. It is very difficult to get rid of a sofa that is in desperate need of upholstering and I just couldn't rationalize disposing of the thing at the dump--it seems so wasteful, this is a VERY expensive sofa, so we decided to re-invent the big green monster sofa as part of the family room remodel.
Likewise, the old fireplace which had once been marble and then traditional wood and then temporary particle board was once again being reinvented and that meant taking it down to the original box. Of course we were too lazy to actually clean our junk out of the family room before construction began, so a lot the junk became garbage... at least it didn't include the green monster sofa.
The remodeling process also included taking down the three layers of ceiling: the original 1930's lathe and plaster, the 50's flesh color acoustic and the 90's poorly installed drywall. We gained an inch and half height in the room. We also eliminated one window and replaced the long window with a smaller one.
The new fireplace insert is a beautiful modern horizontal gas unit with a single center flame surrounded by pretty glass stones. A local steel artist built the outer decorative surround with matching shelf and desk (where a window used to be).
The fireplace turned out beautifully and the walls are painted a light gray. We had to wait an extra week for the furniture to be delivered because there was a mishap with the carpet... our theme is contemporary masculine (since the room is mostly used by Sammy, and occasionally a much welcome Uncle or two over to watch a ballgame), we thought this a fitting theme. With Michael's tendencies leaning towards contemporary asian, and mine towards french country, we will just call our house: ECLECTIC.
We are so happy because all the furniture was delivered today (notice the old green monster sofa has been modernized and upholstered in luxurious dark taupe leather) and we have our family room back.
and it is BEAUTIFUL and we LOVE it!
Now, I just need to finish a couple of paintings for the walls and the window coverings are due to be installed in the next couple weeks and a couple more pillows are on their way... and in the meantime, we think it is AMAZING!