When My Dad Was 29

DC-260-7953561319_Page_4One of the gifts of becoming an adult, I think, is getting to see your parents through your adult perspective.

In this photo my dad is somewhere around 29. He was divorced with two kids, trying to make ends meet, building his career while paying child support to my mom each month. My brother Noel and I used to go back and forth each week between our parent’s houses, carting along a little black and white T.V. by its plastic handle so we could watch Three’s Company and Scooby Doo wherever we were. In those years he cooked a lot of pork chops. We ate Mini-Wheats for breakfast and spent the weekends driving around Saskatchewan in his big black van. The van was stuffed with Panasonic batteries and beef jerky, which my dad sold to convenience stores throughout the province. Eventually we got an Irish Setter and named him Charlie. He’d sit up front, tongue flapping out the window while Noel and I chewed on jerky and I sang all the commercial jingles I’d memorized. Continue reading

New Documentary: The Wolfpack


Joe sent me a link yesterday to the trailer for The Wolfpack, which won The Sundance grand jury prize this year, and it has me completely intrigued. Have you guys heard of this doc? It tells the story of six movie-fanatic brothers (ages 16-24 in the film) who grew up in a four-bedroom apartment in New York’s Lower East Side…and rarely went outside.

From The New York Times:

“They had spent most of their lives indoors, cloistered in a four-bedroom, 16th-floor apartment in a public housing complex on the Lower East Side. Since moving into the apartment with his wife, Susanne, and their growing brood in the mid-90s, their father, Oscar, fearful of drugs and crime in the city, had forbidden his family from freely venturing out. People were ill-intentioned and dangerous, Oscar told them, and not to be trusted. “I don’t want them to have the pressure, the social pressure,” he says in the film, adding that he wanted his children to not be “contaminated by drugs or religion or philosophy, but to learn who they are.” So he kept the door locked, a ladder shoved tightly against it. They lived on welfare, with only Oscar going out, often just for food.”

The filmmaker, Crystal Moselle, formed a friendship with the brothers five years ago after spotting them walking around in her neighbourhood on a rare outing. She discovered they shared a mutual love of movies, and that the boys’ isolated upbringing was made less so through their fascination (and reenactments) of Hollywood films.

Vulture describes the documentary as “a rare, transcendent work of art.”

The Wolfpack opens in Portland next Friday at Living Room Theaters…you know where I’ll be.

p.s. Shad, the host of CBC’s q is interviewing Crystal Moselle on the show tomorrow (Friday, June 12).

Photo via The New York Times

How to Get Married in the South


Photo by Sweet Tea Studios

There’s a tradition in the Southern U.S. that if a bottle of bourbon is buried upside down at the location where you’re getting married one month before the wedding day, it will keep the rain away.

As I mentioned here when I first wrote about our upcoming trip, my friend Dianna loves tradition. And she and her fiancé Evan were planning an outdoor wedding on the property of Maison Madeleine, a gorgeous 19th-century house in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. So her sister Kendal, who lives a couple hours away in New Orleans, agreed to do the bourbon burial.


Two weeks before the wedding, storms were hitting the state. “Four days of work, lots of packing, and we will be headed south to become Mr. and Mrs.!” Dianna posted on social media. “Now the south just needs to get all this storming out of its system and bring on the sunshine!”

As some of you know, Joe and I exchanged our vows during a typhoon. There was no bourbon buried in the town of Yachats, Oregon where we said “I do”, and when I say typhoon, I mean it was a literal typhoon (Typhoon Pabuk, it was named), complete with record-breaking rainfall and a power outage. I like to think getting married in a storm is reflective of our adventurous nature. (You never know what Joe and Courtney might get up to in this lifetime—they got married in a typhoon!)

So when Dianna started sharing nervous updates about the weather, I texted her: The chances of us both getting married in a storm have to be really really slim. (Knock on wood right nowshe replied.) Continue reading

How to Eat a Crawfish (Louisiana, Night One)

Dianna'sdressWhen my friend Dianna started planning her Louisiana wedding a year ago, one of the first things she told me was, “We’re having a crawfish boil on the Friday night.”

I had no idea what that meant.

On the flight to Denver two weeks ago, en route to Lafayette from Portland, Joe and I met up with Ashley, a friend who was also flying south for the event. It was around 9 a.m. on Friday. The rehearsal dinner was that evening, so naturally the topic of crawfish came up. “They’re related to lobster, but smaller,” Joe said.

“Like a cousin of lobster?” I asked.

Ashley chimed in with some other thoughts on crustaceans that I can’t recall and we left it at that.

Fast forward to 6 p.m. Continue reading

‘Round the Web: May 2015


Mick, Keith, and B.B. King

I just realized it’s the last day of May. Which means time for a trip around the web…

*A Day in the Life of Pinterest. (I found this very funny.)

*How young women feel about Hillary.

*9 Hikes Around Mt. Hood that sound amazing. (Some are just 45 minutes from Portland.)

*6 comedy actresses let loose in this revealing roundtable from The Hollywood Reporter. (Including Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and Kate McKinnon.)

*Transgender veterans in New Orleans.

*For anyone who has ever been ‘Done’ with someone. (Frazey Ford’s voice is gorgeous.)

*While the term ‘Slow Parenting’ annoys me (does everything need to be categorized?), the sentiment behind it just makes sense. Inspiration for trying it out.

*Own a retail business? (Or want to?) Excellent tips from Emily Henderson on how to keep people coming back.

*Lastly, apparently B.B. King called this one of his greatest performances.

Back soon, friends! ~C.

photo via worldofwilbekin.tumblr.com

From Swamps to Snow Peaks


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



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


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

Flying South


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.


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


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.

Self May 2015

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.

Tranquility, india ink

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.


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


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.



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)

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.

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