Sunday, July 29, 2007

Scandolous Small Town Behavior

Ken and Mary made it back into town yesterday. Their home away from home is a Holiday Inn up the street. The same place I do my drive by blogging/email postings from. I swing into the parking lot and take advantage of the fact that wi fi doesnt magically stop at their walls. The other day though, I needed power and more importantly, I hadnt had my coffee yet. Ken had introduced me to several staff members before he left in case I needed anything.I went into the lobby and figured I should say hi to the manager, let her know what I was up to. Mind you I had met her before. Ken had even told her who I was, what I'm doing here, and we had chatted a bit. She seemed pretty friendly at the time.

I realize a lot of people come through there, so I wasn't horribly surprised when my greeting was met with a blank stare. I tried again by reminding her I was Ken's friend. Her eyes narrowed and she gave me the evil eye. This wasn't going as well as I'd hoped. I just wasn't exactly sure why. Did she think I was going to steal a cinnamon roll? Maybe she'd seen me in the parking lot and didn't appreciate that. She finally spoke: "You're not Mary."

Uh-oh. Not at all what I thought it was.

Mary thought it was pretty hilarious.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Death of an Ipod.

July 27th was a very sad day. After valiant attempts to resuscitate, my ipod was officially pronounced dead by the Genius at the Bridgeport Apple Store just outside of Portland.

My ipod is dead. No more music.

It’d been acting strange for a while. Occasionally it would get confused. The symptoms were there-- started to tire easily; scrolling through the music list would leave fragments of text on screen -- I just hoped it would hold out a little longer.

I’m on a road trip and my ipod is dead. This is catastrophic.

The Apple Genius felt my pain. I gained full sympathy when he learned my plight : on a road trip and far far away from my back up disk. He really tried everything to bring it back; or at least save the music. Several geniuses tried to help, talking to each other under their breath like I wasn’t supposed to hear. They kinda rallied as each learned the horror of my situation. A road trip without music?! Get Josh over here…It was a valiant effort. I think I saw a little tear in his eye when the guy called the official time of death: 6:12pm.

Sure, I can replace it, but we had such good times. Flying up the coast of California listening to godawful one hit wonders from the 70’s (and knowing every word)…. Easing into my first day in Oregon with Dustin O’Halloran and later rocking out with the Frames. Neil Young seemed an appropriate soundtrack for Mt. Hood. This is just too sad.

I really tried though. For God’s sake, I spent an entire day at a MALL trying to save it. I didn’t even paint. I went to two malls in fact (The Genius bar was booked at the first one….) Those who know me well understand what pure dedication that was. It takes a lot to get me near a mall.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

more paintings

Mt Hood

Sandy River

I 84 Overpass


A bad photo of a not half bad little painting (6x8):

Wrong lens on the camera; I'll try to post a better one later.

Don't Panic (or the longest run on sentence ever...)

If you ever go see your friend’s band play at a bar and (hypothetically of course), lets say you park your car in another restaurant’s parking lot, and suppose you (as smart as you are) miss the significance of a big iron gate that obviously shuts across the drive way, and you read the sign that says “customer parking only” but youre late and it’s a one way street and you’re not really sure where you are so you don’t want to have to drive around the block if you miss the bar and you’re thinking “Gosh that parking lot is SO well lit I can even read the sign that says ‘cars left over night will be towed’ ….Gee, I sure will feel safe coming back to my car in such a well lit parking lot!” then you go see your friend’s band play and my, oh my—they play rocking good blues well into the wee hours of the morning and afterwards you go waltzing back towards your car thinking gee that was fun… until you’re stopped dead in your tracks as you realize what exactly is wrong with this picture: the restaurant closes before the bar (the locked gate between you and your car being the clincher)…. its really best not to panic. Its best to go back to the bar, take heed of the bartender’s advice and leave a message on the restaurant’s answering machine telling them what a lovely time you had at their fine establishment. So good, in fact, that you lost track of just how many beers you had and took a cab home. That way, when the owner/ manager comes in the next morning and sees a car with (Gasp!!) California plates on it, and goes to the phone to call the tow truck, he/she will notice the blinking light (hopefully), and will listen to the message (preferably before calling the tow) and will (hopefully) have pity on the drunk but responsible customer. Much better odds than him/her having pity on the completely sober but idiotic person who thinks they can park anywhere. That way its only a 20 mile cab ride home (yeah, suck it up....), not a cab ride home plus get your car out of the impound. Just a suggestion. I wouldn’t know but it sounds like it could work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And some art....

These are all oil on canvas board or linen on board

Blue Skies!

Last week I drove to Mt. Hood. Drove all around it, in fact, but never saw it. Lots of trees and clouds, but no mountain. The thing about Oregon is that it rains. A lot. I’d forgotten what that’s like. It actually never occurred to me that it might be raining in July. I’ve been in LA too long.

Yesterday morning, I saw blue sky so I jumped in the car and headed to the mountain. Its about a half hour to Mt Hood from where I’m staying. I must be getting ready to leave here because the drive felt way too short. I really wanted to keep going. Doesn’t really matter where to, I just love a good road trip. Always have. The day after I got my driver’s license, my friend Tristen and I took off on a road trip to the top of California to see my sister. I think our bags were packed before I even took the test. We were gone in less than 24 hours.

I think I need to drive across the U.S.

Some random thoughts/observations/ little stories for the day:

In California, if you see a big truck with monster wheels, you can be pretty certain that there is a bumper sticker on the back window that says “No Fear” or “Bad Boyz” (so clever!—See? it’s a Z not an S). In Oregon, especially in the southern part of the state, the sticker will say “ Get R Done”. They too are clever, so they flip the R backwards. Or maybe its an homage to Toys R Us.

People in Oregon actually say hi when they pass you on the street. They make eye contact too. Sometimes they even start a conversation. They’re weird that way.

When they ask how you’re doing, they actually wait for an answer.

It’s a little different though if you are in a car with California plates. I was pulled off to the side of a dirt road somewhere near Mt. Hood when a guy pulled over. I think he assumed I was lost or needed help (logical enough). He didn’t fully believe that I knew where I was because he insisted I take his map. The second or third question he asked in the natural chit chat was “Yeah, I noticed you have California plates…You’re not going to stay here are you?” He was dead serious...and sincerely wanted to know. It reminded me of the bumper stickers that were very popular a decade or so ago: “Welcome to California. Now GO HOME!” Regardless, it was nice of him to stop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bonneville Dam

The studio I’m working in is next door to the Army Corps of Engineers. Last week, Gary (from the Corps) took me on a tour of the Bonneville Dam. Actually he took almost the entire day to show me the dam and parts of the Columbia Gorge (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!). As an added fashion bonus, I even got to wear an Army Corps of Engineers hard hat! Didn’t get a picture of that, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

They’re refurbishing some of the generators so they had giant parts laying about and massive holes where the stuff was supposed to go. OK, that’s an incredibly simplified version of what they were actually doing but it was pretty cool.

I’m only semi-mechanically inclined. By that I mean I can take things apart and put them back together without any “extra” parts at the end, but I rarely know how the thing works. I'm a good puzzle solver. My sister and I changed the carburetor on my bug when I was in high school-- impressing both my brother and my mechanic--but I have only the vaguest idea what a carburetor does.

At any rate, I got the grand tour, was walked around the facilities and shown the giant rotors and turbines and the gaping hole where it all comes together. I can look at the parts and envision how they all fit together but after that…. Um…The part with the blades sits in the Columbia River, the water turns the blades and presto-magic, Oregon, Washington, and parts of California have electricity! There’s my high-tech explanation which will surely leave Gary on the floor laughing (I have a feeling I just failed the test….)

This is a one man elevator with barely enough room to turn around. These guys are extremely safety conscious; you have to sign in everytime you use it because it goes down into a confined space. Of course, this guy dutifully filled out the form. If he hadn’t, he would have been mortified to see someone at the top taking photos. If he hadnt followed protocol, his buddies just might have convinced him the woman with the camera was from Safety Engineering... at which point all color would have drained from his face.

(the elevator)

(the shaft)

Speaking of the shaft, some guy has to crawl through this tiny door and weld all day. That's Gary pointing to give size perspective:

Part of the Homeland Security Act resulted in lots of fancy new equipment for the dam. I got to go up and take pictures of it all but I have a feeling I shouldn’t post them. All you really need to know is this: If you are out hiking within a few miles (yes, miles) of a facility deemed worthy of Homeland Security funding, and say you think you’re in a private place where you can duck behind a bush to pee…its not probable but it is possible that someone is watching… and laughing.

Afterwards we went to a fishery where I was completely repulsed and fascinated by these suckers:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vancouver color studies

Vancouver Sketches

These are mostly from coffee houses. From where I was sitting, I had a good view of people ordering and then getting lids/ cream and sugar. Generally I had about 30 seconds to get the drawing. The baristas were pretty fast....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On the Road Again..

I've been in Vancouver once or twice before, but it was for work, so didn't get to explore much. Doesn't really count. This time, I got a lot more wandering in. Ken and Mary have a few places here, so I bounced between two of them, both a few blocks from Stanley Park or a few blocks from the beach, depending on which direction I head out in. I spent a lot of time walking around the city and the beaches. Went through China Town and got a lot of good painting reference, even made it to a Jazz club and got some got some good musician reference. Were heading back to Seattle tonight and then Portland in the morning. As soon as I can get my sketches digitized, Ill post them!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How I started out for Portland and ended up in Vancouver...

No, I did not miss an exit and end up in Vancouver, Washington... I'm actually in Vancouver BC.

True to form, I don't plan anything when I travel. I just load up my car with things I think I might need or dont want to be caught without. As I was leaving my house, I saw my passport on the bookshelf and thought what the hell... you never know.

I took the long way up here: 101 to San Francisco, spent a very enjoyable night at a friends apt., jumped back on the 101 and rolled into Gold Beach Oregon at about 10pm (after many "hmmm... wonder where that road goes" inspired detours, a couple of walks on the beach and of course I HAD to drive through the giant redwood car tunnel). Interesting thing about Gold Beach. Everything, and I mean absolutely everything shuts down by 10pm. Hotels, Motels, gas stations.... everything. Shocking to a city girl like myself. So I pulled over into the (cover your ears mom...) darkest hotel parking lot I could find and had a lovely night's sleep in my car.
The next morning, up bright and early, I continued up the coast and ended up at the Cape Lookout Campsite (with an unexpected bonus: they had showers!!). From there I headed north a little while longer until I realized I was actually getting tired of driving after 3 days. I found an east bound road and made it to Portland sometime around noon. Ken (who's studio I'm visiting) was particularly relieved to see me. Change of plans and he'd misplaced my cell number-- he needed to head off to Vancouver in a few hours and the maintenence crew was changing all of the locks in the building ( they had lost some keys). We had lunch with a very nice guy from the Army Corps of Engineers (they're neighbors to the studio) and somehow by the end of that lunch, we had all decided that the best thing for me to do was to jump back into the car and head up to Vancouver with Ken. It had something to do with the number of galleries here, a Monet exhibit, and a pretty happening music scene (i.e. lots of reference for my musician series). It had absolutely nothing to do with fantastic weather, an empty penthouse with a swimming pool and getting to hang out a little bit with Ken and his wife Mary. So here I am. Drinking coffee in Vancouver, and updating my blog.

So here are a few highlights/observations/whatever...

My first stop for gas was in East Palo Alto. East Palo Alto is not the same as Palo Alto. I was greeted by a crack head lady asking very nicely (all things considered) for some cash. When I said no, she became less polite and called me a few bad names. Screamed them actually. I thought it was a fantastic welcome to the bay area.

Gas prices are significantly lower in Oregon. My tank was pretty low when I hit Crescent City at the top of California. Not so low that I couldnt make the 10 miles to the first town but I gassed up anyway. I was pretty pissed off when I passed the gas stations in Brookings OR that were a full 50 cents a gallon lower. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Later I discovered something that apparently everyone except for me knows: You are not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. I tried. They really dont like it when you do that. Apparently its illegal. No one knows why though...and believe me, Ive been asking around. The official story is that it keeps insurance costs down for the stations. A comparitive study between Washington and Oregon insurance rates, though, shows little difference (I dont know who did the study). Regardless, it is kind of nice to have someone pump your gas for that Its not completely unexpected.

At an out of the way diner somewhere near the top of California, I sat at the bar top for lunch and coffee where I could very easily hear the conversations at the waitress station. A couple came in and sat somewhere behind me in a booth. When the waitress went over to take the order, the couple asked if there is MSG in the ribs because the lady is extremely allergic to MSG. The next five minutes of conversation and running around at the waitress station was both hilarious and frightening at the same time. Five waitresses dilligently tried to figure out if there was a mysterious ingredient called MSG in anything that woman might ingest. None of them knew what it was. One of them thought it might be that "stuff" on the spinach everyone was "freaking out" about a while ago. Another corrected her and said, "no, that's that E-Goli stuff...MSG is some kind of Chinese food...we don't serve Chinese food here". The other three were systematically reading all the salad dressing bottles, soft drink labels, the coffee bag....anything they could find with ingredients listed. One of them remembered hearing the term "Mono-Sodio- something with a G" so at least they were getting warmer. Eventually they came up with several items they were sure did not have MSG and reported back to the couple. I'm pretty sure the lady walked out of there fed and without any impending trips to the emergency room.

That's the update. Im going to wander around, get something to eat, check out some galleries and sit in a park somewhere with my sketchbook. Hope you all are having a lovely day!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Road Trip!!

I am off on an extended road trip! I'll be living out of my car for the next several weeks as I travel up the coast of California and Oregon. I'm honored to be able to spend some time working in the studio of a very generous artist friend of mine outside of Portland near the Columbia River Gorge. Stay Tuned for postings from the road.....