From Swamps to Snow Peaks

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Yesterday began with alligators, swimming in a bayou outside of New Orleans…

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and wrapped up with a Mt. Hood sunset, from above.

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Experiences like this are why I will never, ever tire of traveling. Continue reading

Flying South

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We’re on a 5:20 a.m. flight to Louisiana today.

I’m leaving my laptop in Portland…

and packing these shoes in my suitcase.

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It’s party time, friends.

See you back here in a week!

xx ~C.

Leaning to the Light: Q + A with Portland Artist Sean Kalley

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For the last six years, Sean Kalley has been making art, every day. The self-taught Portland-based visual artist began sketching in 2009 while recovering from major shoulder surgery, and has turned his passion into his life’s work.

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I met Sean in 2013 at one of his gallery shows, and was immediately struck by the vibrancy and diversity of his pieces. He’s the first Portland artist I’ve interviewed for the blog, and I’m excited to share some of his art and thoughts on life and creativity.

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Tranquility (India ink)

Q + A

The business name for your art is Koldshoulder. Where does that come from?

The name signifies how I started making art. In 2009 I had my first major shoulder surgery, and it did not go well. I needed another experimental major surgery, and realized that my life was going to be a bit different from then on. I decided to start sketching one day since I needed something to focus my energy towards. Icing my shoulders came a close second for the amount of time spent during my life through three major surgeries. I still ice regularly and feel pretty good, but it reminds me to be thankful when I do since it could be worse.

Have you always felt a connection to art? When did you realize it was significant for you?

Yes and no. I have always been interested in it, purchased local art, attended art history class, and have been fascinated by many people who have a craft they own. It always seemed a bit like magic to me. But I never thought I would be trying to live as an artist until I started doing it. I took an art class when I was 14. In that class, I painted two acrylic pictures, made some pottery, and completed a few graphite sketches. The other half of the time we studied art history. After this class was over I never thought about art again. I have always been a little energetic, and sitting still to make art just seemed like the last thing I could do. Later in college I attended another art history class, and believe it has a lot to do with my convictions about art in general now.

I knew art was significant for me early after starting. I just always wanted to do it, to make art, to push myself and feel that sense of accomplishment. So many times in life I have been in situations where you wonder, “What is the point of this, and is it fulfilling me?” Once I started making art, life seemed to make more sense to me.

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Timeout (India ink)

On your website, you share: “The injury has led to some amazing discoveries about myself, what I want out of life and how I want to live it.” What are some of these discoveries? Continue reading

Countdown to Preservation Hall

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At 9 pm New Orleans time 11 days from now, I’ll be sitting on this floor with Joe and his parents, listening to jazz.

Not just any jazz…

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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Panorama-JB-at-Preservation-HallI learned about Preservation Hall a few months back, when Joe and I were watching Sonic Highways, the HBO documentary series created by Dave Grohl. In it, Foo Fighters travels to eight American cities, recording an album along the way and exploring each city’s musical history through interviews with local musicians and producers.

One of my favourite episodes was filmed in New Orleans. Foo Fighters set up a makeshift recording studio in Continue reading

Line Break: ‘Visiting Hours’ (An original poem)

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That first winter her wrists
were bruised blue from the IV: a word
she said suddenly often, its mysterious fluid
like a new, uninvited

part of the family.

My brother mostly waited at the door.
Twelve years old and six foot one
He’d push his hands into his pockets,
high-top laces dangling
on the floor. His glasses were always
smeared, their wire arms

wound with duct tape.

I tiptoed in,
ready for my important task:
unroll a washcloth
from the stack above the sink.
Get it good and cold
baby girl, she’d call, wring the water out.
Her forehead shone. I pressed
the corners of the cloth to each temple
and after, lifting the sheet,
slipped in, careful not to bump

the tube sliding from her nose.

We lay together, my mother smoothing
my hair with her hand
as if in that small bed
that smelled of medicine
we didn’t know the names of
no one was wounded at all.

*

(I wrote an earlier version of this poem in 2008. With Mother’s Day coming up, I felt compelled to share it. I still feel like that young girl, trying to protect her mom, trying to heal her. To all the moms and daughters reading this, Happy (almost) Mother’s Day. The bond we share is surely one of life’s most intense, most complicated, and most beautiful.)

xo ~C.

Nina Simone, Baltimore, and Voices of the Unheard

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A couple days ago, I came across this clip of Nina Simone singing “Revolution” at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969. It was shown at the end of a very insightful video report from Democracy Now!: Voices of the Unheard in the Baltimore Streets, in which people in Baltimore are interviewed while cleaning up some of the destruction from the recent riots, marching peacefully, and standing in a line next to the police in an effort to keep the streets calm.

There are so many layers to what’s happening there (and all over the country), and multi-faceted reporting like this is crucial to increase understanding of the complexity of the situation. I was really glad I watched it, and I highly recommend.

Then Nina’s voice came on, singing a song I’d never heard before, and it completely captured me.

These are some of the lyrics: Continue reading

‘Round the Web: April 2015

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Amidst the devastating earthquake in Nepal, more U.S. police killings of unarmed black men, and Native actors walking off the set of Adam Sandler’s awful racist movie, April held a shining ray of hope: news of Kermit’s glass frog doppelganger, discovered in Costa Rica.

From National Geographic:

“The lime-green amphibian . . . has bulging white eyes with perfect black pupils, much like Jim Henson’s musical puppet. But this frog can’t carry a tune. In fact, it has a long whistle like that of an insect, which, according to a new study, may be why scientists didn’t notice it for so long—Costa Rica’s last glass frog discovery occurred in 1973.”

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A mascot for the age of transparency? I don’t know, but something about this creature’s little green see-through body (it’s just 1 inch long!) makes me feel better about the world.

Of course, it’s not the only cool thing I came across this month. ‘Round the Web we go… Continue reading

Joe’s (Amazing) Popcorn Recipe

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A movie and popcorn night with Joe never gets old for me. That’s partly because I love movies, partly because I love Joe, and mostly because I love his popcorn.

(Okay, it’s all about the company.) But you guys, Joe’s popcorn is really good.

Which is why I need to share the recipe with you. We’ve tried a few different toppings on popcorn, but this is by far our favourite. I don’t write about food a whole lot, but we eat this at least once a week, and get excited for it every single time. I asked Joe to share the recipe, and he said, “in detail?”

So here it is, the step-by-step guide to possibly the best popcorn you’ll ever taste. Bonus: this recipe includes the secret to perfect stovetop popping (so you don’t end up with any burnt or un-popped kernels).

Joe’s Popcorn

Continue reading

Song to Stop For: Haley Reinhart, Cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”

I’ve seen this song shared by a few folks on social media the past few days, so took a moment to listen this morning. Impressive!

The band is Postmodern Jukebox, which collaborates with different artists to cover pop songs in vintage-style genres like jazz and swing. Haley Reinhart, the vocalist for this cover, was in the tenth season of American Idol, placing third. I had never heard of her, have you?

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Hope you enjoy the listen. :) Happy Wednesday, friends.

*Photo via Haley Reinhart News

Happiness, in a Hanging Basket

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Last spring while choosing plants for our patio, I deliberated between a couple different ferns at our favourite Portland plant and flower shop, Sammy’s.

One was huge and bushy and beautiful. It was a showpiece, the kind of fern you stop to admire while hiking in the forest. I loved it. But it was so big I thought it might overpower the space, and overshadow the other plants.

The other fern was lovely, too. It was smaller, less bountiful, less of a ‘center stage’ player, but a solid, hardy-looking plant. It’s a better size for our patio, I told myself. It won’t obstruct the view of the trees. It was also less expensive. It’s the fern I bought.

I transplanted that fern from its plastic pot into a wire-frame hanging basket lined with moss, and hung it on a hook above the railing. It was the first plant to grace our new patio, and it looked good. I planted a bunch of starter fuschias in an identical basket and hung it on a hook beside the fern, and the two plants shared the shade all summer. I watered, misted, and trimmed out any browning leaves. The fern grew, a little, but its fronds never became overly full or bushy. It didn’t try to become something it wasn’t.

I liked that fern, a lot.

But I didn’t love it. I always wished I had gotten the bigger one.

Continue reading

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