Rough day

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Don’t you feel sorry for me?P1040309-bView of Heceta Head Beach from Cape Bridge

P1040276-bView looking North from the See Vue Cottages about five miles south of Yachats.

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Bayou Bend, Houston Texas

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Bayou Bend
So before I tell you about my Houston day, let me just say I did my day in Houston all wrong.  And I hope very much to have an opportunity for a Houston Do-Over day in the near future.  That being said, I did have a good adventure, met some cool people, looked at some pretty stuff, and managed to find a killer good burger.Houston was more of a layover than a destination on this trip.  No matter how I played around with the flight schedule I kept ending up with a really super long layover either in San Fransisco or Houston.  So I weighed my options and decided to make the layover into a stop off and spend a day exploring the City of Houston since I had never been there.My first mistake was in underestimating how flat-out HUGE that Houston is.  I found a hotel near to the airport and figured I could catch a cab/train/bus etc… into the City Center to do some exploring by foot.  This was not the greatest decision, but did strongly contribute to most of my ridiculous situations.I found a nice hotel near the airport and sprung for a Deluxe King room and I have to tell you being one person on a king size bed feels simply decadent.  Especially if you are short.  The staff at the hotel was really nice & helpful.  They had this sweet interactive map in the lobby that showed exactly how far away from downtown Houston we really were.  The surprise on the girls face when I said where I wanted to go should have been my first clue that this was a poorly executed adventure… but off I went anyhow.

My cab driver was a French Texan who wanted to talk family, food & travel.  In the 45 minutes it took to go from my hotel into Houston I got to learn about his immigration to Texas, his wife, his family, his kids, their education, jobs, and all about how he felt about Houston, Texas, and America in general.  Let me tell you, it was equally enlightening and hysterical.

My destination in Houston was Bayou Bend, a historic house, museum & garden featuring the private collection of the Hogg family.  My driver dropped me off at the main gate of the museum and left me with his business card for if/when I decided I wanted to get home by cab.  The visitors center was a very modern building with a lot of information about the history of the Hogg family and details of their philanthropic activities.  I would have spent more time at the center but the nice lady who worked there pointed out we were nearing the last call for admissions into the house and my time would be better spent there.

Traveling alone does give you opportunities to strike up conversations with some interesting people.  While at the house I ended up being accompanied by one of the volunteer guards who knew a lot of extra information about the house, family, work done at the house, and pieces of art in the house itself.  He was a really great source of information and added personality to the place.  I’m glad I got a chance to meet him, but I am sorry I didn’t think to go back & ask to take his picture.

Photography is not allowed in the main house, however the grounds were open to photographers.  I spent a few hours wandering around the gardens and just generally enjoying the beautiful setting and various vantage points of the house itself.

I finally decided to head out of the gardens towards what I hoped was downtown Houston, but wasn’t.  Instead I went east on Memorial Drive and ended up in the middle of Memorial Park.

Like Houston, Memorial Park looks manageable from various online map sources.  However, when you begin by underestimating how big Houston is to start with… you will be royally lost in the park itself.  My second bad decision was choosing to continue walking along Memorial Drive instead of turning north on Memorial Loop.  In all fairness I did not know that section of Memorial Loop runs smack into the Golf Course and restaurant in about half a mile or less.  However, I kept walking in hopes I would find either some directions, a map, a parking lot, a restaurant or a way out of the park.  What complicated the matter was the fact I had not thought to pack a granola bar or anything to drink.  So I found myself getting lost in a giant, hot, dry, dusty, “park”, surrounded by a bunch of people who were at the park to seriously work out.  I finally did get some semi-helpful directions from a runner who said the parking lot & entrance was “just around the corner”…. which it was… however after consulting a map (when I got back to the hotel because that’s where I left it…. obviously) the point where I asked for directions to the corner she was talking about was about a mile away.   Which was not as close as her “around the corner” led me to believe.  By the time I made it to the Tennis club, they were closing up and the vending machines were inside locked portions of the building.  I consulted with another nice sweaty person who offered to drop me off at the gas station outside the park but also pointed out my other option would be to keep going to the Golf Course in hopes the grill would still be open.As I rounded yet another ridiculously long curve I caught sight of the back of the Clubhouse… I could smell exhaust from the restaurant.  It smelt like burger drippings and hot dogs… I kid you not… it was heavenly.  As I walked thru the parking lot which was packed full of BMW’s, Audi’s, Land Rovers, and various other super nice cars it dawned on me that this was not your average burger joint.  This was a super classy burger joint attached to a VERY nice Country Club.  And I was a sweaty, pudgy, pasty white, out of shape Oregonian, with a camera.  I was going to be a LITTLE bit conspicuous.You know those scenes in the movie where the stranger walks into the establishment… and everyone turns around and looks at them?  Yeah, that was exactly how it happened.And I am not sure if it really was the best burger I’ve ever eaten… but at that moment it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten.

Ironically two of the women on my trip live in Houston and were both mortified that I spent the day alone wandering around the park.  So the next time I am in Houston I’ll be looking them up for some help seeing more of the Houston that is in the travel guide… and less of the Houston that made me think I was going to have heat stroke.
Moral of this story… go see Bayou Bend, its worth the trip!  Don’t attempt to walk thru Memorial Park.  Do rent a car when traveling in Houston, and for the love of all that is good… CARRY A MAP!
 Bayou Bend Visitor CenterLush lawn & walkway towards the house.
BayouBend (6 of 90)
Bridge walkway access from the parking lot to the house.BayouBend (9 of 90)
Easy to imagine lots of interesting things living in the Bayou below.BayouBend
One of my favorite sculptures from the garden, peaceful & wise.I don’t know what this building was originally, but now it houses the restroom, drinking fountains, lockers & some administration offices.  BayouBend (22 of 90)Side garden entrance to main house.
BayouBend (24 of 90)Another really beautiful flowering tree in the garden.  I love going to gardens where I can’t name the plants, it’s so exciting!BayouBend (28 of 90)
Main fountain & lawn looking toward the house.BayouBend (45 of 90)Small fountain looking towards the house.
BayouBend (54 of 90) Creepy victorious cupid.  BayouBend (61 of 90)
Another shot of the house from the main entrance.BayouBend (69 of 90)
Walkway around the back side of the house & a really beautiful iron verandah.BayouBend (81 of 90)
Each section of garden had some sort of sculpture, all really beautifully done & nicely focused on.BayouBend (87 of 90)
If anyone knows what kind of plant this is, please let me know.  BayouBend (90 of 90)
This last shot is a terrible picture, but shows a section of the pathway around Memorial Park.

What is Beauty?

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A couple days ago I caught the tail end of a Ted Talk NPR program discussing Beauty. What beauty is, if it can be quantified, and if it fulfills a fundamental role in our life or if its simply a surface “perk” of being alive. I had to laugh at a few parts of it. Some of the questions surrounding the topic felt so very much like the “what is IS” sort of questioning. Take the seemingly simple question “What is Beauty?” We are all familiar with the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think that applies to this question. Beauty is individually perceived and because of that is remains a deeply personal sense. To me the blue of my post-it notes is pretty & attractive, that’s why I bought them. I think the sun reflecting off my purple glass tea mug is beautiful. I think Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been able to visit. I know of a couple scenic spots along the Oregon Coastline that are so beautiful they take my breath away EVERY TIME I visit. And in a more personal vein, are the people who I know and love and are Beautiful to me. So can Beauty be quantified? defined? measured? compared?

It seems to be a part of human nature to try to define and measure things. We have so many options available to us anymore that occasionally we become choosy about Beauty. For example, you can go to a jewelery shop and see HUNDREDS of gems. There’s a scale for gemstones, cut, clarity, etc… But does the comparison shopping take away the individual beauty of each gemstone? I may see a perfect diamond which may meet all the standards of a perfect gemstone… but I may still find a piece of sapphire more beautiful.  I am reacting to it individually despite the fact that, from an analytical standpoint, it is a lower quality stone. And although I may desire the sapphire more so than the diamond, it does not diminish the beauty of the diamond.   Side note, this example me in the jewelery store has much more money than the actual me… who does not generally go gem shopping as a hobby.

Weirdly enough there is something similar for human faces and form. A face that displays certain qualities, angles, and symmetry is commercially considered to be more beautiful than another. And yet despite the fact that your Mother/Sister/Grandmother/Wife/Girlfriend will probably never end up on the cover of People magazine as the year’s Queen of Beauty isn’t hers the face the you would prefer to look at? Another participant in the show ended the radio segment with the questions: is Beauty trying to tell us something? Is it fulfilling a fundamental part of human nature?  I say yes, it absolutely tells us something fundamental about our existence.

We have the ability to see, appreciate, and create beauty all around us.  That is a precious gift we need to be thankful of every day.

 

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Is it really as EASY as PIE?

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Well for some people anyways. Pie isn’t particularly easy for me. After the flour explosion has been contained, liquids are sopped up from the counter, and I scrape off the dough stuck to my sock there may or may not be something edible coming out of the oven in 45 minutes time. So where did the phrase “Easy as Pie” come from anyhow? Well according to phrases.uk.org this particular phrase fits the equation of a very common type of phrase, the X as Y quotient. Easy as Pie, Nice as Pie, Sweet as Sugar, White as Snow, Quiet as Mice, etc…
To quote directly from the website: “The usage first comes in the phrase ‘as nice as pie’, as found here in 1855: ‘For nearly a week afterwards, the domestics observed significantly to each other, that Miss Isabella was as ‘nice as pie!’”
Mark Twain frequently used just ‘pie’ to mean pleasant or accommodating: In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884 : “You’re always as polite as pie to them.”
“So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice,… and was just old pie to him, so to speak.”
Pie was also used at that time for something that was easy to accomplish; for example, in The US magazine Sporting Life, May 1886: “As for stealing second and third, it’s like eating pie.”
And various other phrase-ology websites seem to agree with the above quotation.
So it seems to me that the staying power of this particular phrase comes directly from the Nice-ness factor inherent in Pie. You don’t have to be able to build a good pie in order to enjoy pie. Nor do you need to even own a pie pan to partake in the blissful feeling of eating that perfect slice of your favorite pie. Nostalgic memories of your (fill in your favorite relative)_______ (and now your favorite flavor)_________ pie are optional.

I’m not a relaxed person

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I’m occasionally lazy, irritated, irritating, happy, goofy, sarcastic, smarty pants, bossy, alpha female… but not very often just flat out RELAXED.

That is precisely why I treasure so deeply the moments when drinks have been dolled out dinner has been served, the house is so full of noise from happy friends that you have to yell to get your point heard (ok you might not NEED to yell… but its funner that way) and everyone is LAUGHING just because we are so happy to be together.

And as an added plus if there are a few dogs running around the table, a cute kid or two goobering on a napkin, and no seriously pressing reason to break up the party early so we can all just sit on the floor and talk like we used to do when we were just teenagers, IT. IS. JUST. PERFECTION.

And that is precisely what Sunday night was like.  Sigh!  Happiness & JOY!  If only I had remembered a camera to record some of the good grub & cool people.

In 30 seconds you could…

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But you wont… instead you will sit there listening to all the things someone out there thinks would be cool to do as a heavy disguise over why you should eat at McDonalds, or drink Coke, or something… I honestly dont know since I never listen to the whole commercial anyhow.

But it got me thinking, what could I realistically do in 30 seconds?

1) I could send a text message to someone to let them know I’m thinking of them.

2) I could eat a hot dog, although if I’m not in a hot dog eating competition… thats just kind of a gross way to eat lunch.

3) I could take a picture.  However in order to getting somewhere cool to take the picture might take a little longer than 30 seconds.

4) I could surf Pintrest for some sort of creative idea to make, cook, drool over, imagine, fantasize about etc… execution of which will take longer than 30 seconds.

5) I could play tug-o-war with my dog.

6) I could burn a bridge or two.

7) I could do some situps…. or eat a mouthful of whipped cream straight from the can.  Yeah, what do you think I’m gonna do.

8) Get annoyed and yell at the radio about how I dont WANT to be famous in some province of China I cant pronounce for doing something dumb and posting it on YouTube.

9) I could go pick up my mail…. but only if I go super fast and no one gets in my way or tries to talk to me.

10) Or I could surf around till I finally find some Steve Miller Band on another radio station.

What could/would/should you do in 30 seconds?

Wait…what happened to March?

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The color green has been on my mind in several ways of late.

Edibly – First off… let me introduce you to something both annoying and delicious.  Corn Vit.  Its annoyingly EVERYWHERE in my garden.  A couple summers back I thought it would be an interesting little thing to try and grow.  And grow it did!  It comes up EVERYWHERE!  In the carrots, around the squashes, twined around the onions, its even snuggled down there at the base of the peas.  Well the good news is that it is delicious, and packed with all sorts of vitamins according to most of the web-searches I did on it.  So last weekend I picked a batch of it, cleaned it, and had my very garden based meal.  (Side note… cleaning the stuff is really a booger if you were not planning to pick it and instead dug up other weeds instead and in the process covered it with dirt.)
Turns out this will now be my new alternative to spinach.  A smidgen of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, a clove of garlic, a large pile of corn vit… sizzle till wilted & fragrant.  Then toss with cooked pasta and toasted sunflower seeds and a pinch of Celtic finishing salt. YUM!

Creatively – Green has also been on my bead table in several different forms.  I’m participating in a monochromatic color challenge put together by Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime.  I’ve become familiar with her work through a couple of super secret beading forums on Facebook.  Yeah, that’s right… I’m part of a super secret forum.  I know people who know people.  Don’t mess with me.  Well I might be overselling that… but in any case those groups are filled with funny and crazy talented ladies who like to talk ideas, beads, projects, and whatever else comes out of their creative brains!  Sally posted an invite to join the blog hop so I’m tryin it out.  I have chosen the color green to make something monochromatic out of and I’ve got a ton of ideas.  I have a hard time saying which color I love the most because it depends on the shade, and the day, and my mood, and whether we are talking something like flowers or house paint.  But green was the color that popped out at me that day so I’m going with it.  Blog reveal is Saturday the 5th of May.  So I hope you (all three of you out there) will like what I put together.
Growingly! – lastly, but not leastly….  Cause that’s the best place you can find green.  Think about it, do you want green on your steak?  NO.  Do you want green in your shower?  NO!  Do you want green coming out of your dog?  NO!!!!  But you do want green in the garden, and you wait ever so patiently for the dirt to start cracking and showing little tiny first leaves.  And even though they aren’t green, here is a quick intro to some upcoming key players in my yard.

FOOD!

The amazing thing about seeds is how something can be so similar and yet so different.  All the squashes were similar in approximate size & shape… but the weight of them, the thickness all different.  Really fun to plant & will be even more fun to turn into my dinners this summer.  And of course… Saffer’s was helping out by keeping me company and chewing on things while I worked in the garden.

August… in recap

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Looking at the calender I figured August was going to be nuts… and I was right.  However, September is doing its best to keep the pace.  I keep reminding myself that November & December will be here soon enough and I’ll be griping about how there is NOTHING TO DO!!!!

It’s been a busy and fun month.  Camping with some friends in beautiful Brookings on the southern Oregon Coast.  It was peaceful, and fun, and I got adopted by my friends zany family.  Er… maybe I should say my zany friends family.  I’m not sure which one sounds worse… that the family is zany, or that my friends are zany.  Nevermind… it was fun.  Four days without computer screens, phones, internet, etc…  Just beaches, campfires, sand, raccoons, and scenery.  Plus we did a quick stop off at the Prehistoric Gardens parking lot to say hi to Rex because, well, it’s tradition!

I also got to photograph a strong man competition that Vic’s Powerhouse held at Three Rivers Casino.  That was a definite change of pace for me… however, strong men picking up heavy stuff is a lovely combination of two of my favorite things.

Group shot of the Feats Contestants

The little girl being held up was the winner of the kids tire flip challenge that was held during the lunch break.  Talk about a Strong Woman in the making!  She (along with many others of us) developed a bit of a crush on the guy in red.   Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a legitimate reason to have him pick up the photographer.

And in the Studio I got to tackle a few new projects.  One project was for a jewelery competition held by Janice Everett of JLynn Jewels a very cool artist & bead maker that I met through my friend Ms.  Amanda Austen of Sea Shore Glass Girl (who many should recognize as the August designer feature in Bead Trends Magazine and who also has a wicked cool Etsy Shop).  This is the piece (see below) I made, and has been earmarked as a gift for one of my friends.  I fear I will have to mail it to her tho, since there seems to be no time free when I can drive it over to her and spend an afternoon in her company.

Center Poppy tile by JLynn Jewels, crystal, smokey quartz, and chain.

The other piece I made for the competition is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

Yes, you heard me right… I actually posted something in my Etsy shop.  My shop is named Eggplant And Saffron.  I’m Eggplant, and Saffron is my muse.  Eggplant is one of the nicknames my family bestowed upon me.  Also worth noting that I love the taste of, color of, plant shape, flowers of, and history behind the Aubergine.  Plus Saffron (aka Saferella, Sasafrassy, Saffers, SaffyDog) is the best dog muse I’ve ever had.

Oh, and just one more thing… I also managed to fit in a play date with my Grandma to show her how to do that felting thing I was introduced to at the Black Sheep Gathering.  It was a really fun day, and the first time ever I was able to teach her how to do something! It was also the first time she’s ever just hung out at MY house with ME!

I apologize for my oversight in not taking a finished photo of her fabric piece.  It turned out really nice.  The colors are all wispy and reminded me of a cloudy sky at sunset.

Here is my attempt at “painting” with hair.  I was pleased with how it turned out.  I already have plans for the next one.

As a quick tie in with the last posting, I created the above peice while listening to Gillian Welch Radio on Pandora.  I was in a folksy-frame of mind.

Well I’m tired now, it’s nearly September (literally in and hour & 15 minutes it will officially be September 1st) and the madness goes on.  Should be fun and I’ll try to be better about recording the fun stuff going on & happening in my studio.

~ L