Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Kayaking Adventure

One of my favorite Pacific Northwest adventures this month was kayaking on the Willamette River with my sister.


There were lots of things that made the adventure so enjoyable: the company was adventurous and funny (my sister is full of wit), the sky was blue, the sun was warm, the wind was cool, the river was full of poop.

Except really: the river was full of poop. It's just that it didn't add to the fun. The good news is human feces are no longer being pumped into the Willamette as the city is trying to clean up the river. The bad news is the geese seem to have taken it upon themselves to re-fill the river with poop. So if you go kayaking on the Willamette, just be sure not to swallow any of the water.

But aside from the geese poop, it was a glorious day.

I posted this picture on Instagram with a subtitle about the outset of our raging river kayak adventure, despite how very non-adventurous we look whilst sitting contentedly in our kayaks, on the dock:



"Joke's on us," my sister said as we laughed over the photo together. Don't worry, though: we did eventually try our hands at kayaking in the water.



But first, we enjoyed the view of the City. Portland sits on the edge of the Willamette, in all its artsy glory.

There was so much to see from our vantage point: the buildings, the bridges, the trees, the virtually-naked man sunbathing on the edge of the dock.


For your protection I have covered the naked man with a butterfly. I sure do wish he would have considered covering himself with a butterfly at the outset of his sunbathing experience.

Oh Portland, why are you so weird?

Once we had adjusted our kayaks to fit our bodies, we eased into the river and headed downstream.



We loved our kayaks. They were even named after us!


The first jaunt of our journey was a piece of cake: we cruised easily downstream in the spirit of Pocahontas. However, on the way back, we had the arduous task of kayaking up river, against the current, and into the wind. It was a meandering, tippy, strenuous affair void of painting with all the colors of the wind, but finally, we made it back to the dock where, thankfully, there was no longer a practically naked man sunbathing.

Life is just full of gracious gifts, isn't it?!


© by scj

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Fourth of July

I know, I know: the fourth was weeks ago. I'm terribly behind in my blogging. But I can't not blog about the fourth. If I did then you would miss out on the cutest photos of some of the cutest little people you ever did see.

My cousin, her husband and their two young children recently moved from Orange County to Portland so they joined us for the fourth. Also present was my brother's college roommate, Kyle, and our dearest of dear family friends, Elizabeth and Anne. It was a celebratory group!

We didn't get a full group photo; this is just 1/3 of the group

From left to right: Me; Elizabeth; my little brother, Marc; and Marc's college roommate, Kyle


My cousin's oldest is a sweet, vivacious, and active two-year old. He loves airplanes.



He loves playing with his dad. 



He loves us enough to let us dress him up.
 



He loves my dad, his great uncle Paul. "Unca Pah!" He calls him. They sat on the swing like this for quite some time in silence, just enjoying each other.



We love having this little guy around. And then, last month, my cousin gave birth to a baby girl, and now we love having her around, too!



Isn't she the sweetest little thing?

We played "pass the baby around" all night. Everyone got multiple turns because nobody could quite get enough of her.



There were other fun things that happened on the fourth, like good food and a spectacular fireworks show down by the river, but those things aren't NEARLY as cute as these guys.

Don't kids make holidays ten times better?!



© by scj

Saturday, July 19, 2014

River Rafting

Two nights ago I dreamed I got a package in the mail containing a shiny new pair of roller blades. Oh, wouldn't that be lovely!

Alas, my blades are still dead. I'm not sure if they're mostly dead or all dead, and since Miracle Max is not here to tell me, I have let my blades lay in peace while I do other fun things on other fun toys with wheels.

Like my friend, G's, motorcyle, for instance.



Oh how I love hopping on the back of that thing and flying through the countryside, cruising alongside meandering rivers, and stopping to admire waterfalls.

Sunset Falls

G is my friend from high school. And college. And adulthood. We've been friends for 14 years and have a grand old time when we're together.

You may remember G as my duck-loving friend, or my skunk-gifting friend, or my cookie-licking friend, or my hat-wearing friend. Life is always more fun when G is around.

When I first arrived in Vancouver, three weeks ago, I had an itch to float down the Lewisville River under the hot summer sun.  So G and I headed to Walmart, surveyed our floating device options, and left the store with a set of new friends.


And then we skidded across slippery rocks, and braved the frigid water, and splashed downstream, and swatted bugs, and satisfied our need for thrashing white water.

It was a jolly way to return to my Washington river-roots.


P.S. Are water socks still a thing? Because they should be, Jack.

© by scj

Friday, July 18, 2014

And now, for a special report

I'd like to interrupt my summer adventures with a report from Canada.

My sister-in-law, Natasha, is in Ottowa, Canada this week competing in the heptathlon at the Pan American Cup and the Canadian National meets. (To read about my sister-in-law and her event, the heptahlon, click here).


She's been high jumping,

She jumped 1.81 meters in the high jump




hurdling,

She ran 13.43 in the hurdles

long jumping,

She long jumped 6.09 meters

running the 200 and 800 meter races,

She ran a 24.36 in the 200, and 2:13.15 in the 800, which is the last event of the two-day competition

throwing the shot put,

She threw 11.01 meters in the shot put

and throwing the javelin, all with speed, agility, accuracy and finesse.

She threw 33 meters in the javelin

And you know what?

SHE WON!



You can see in the background that her final score was 5928 points. The qualifying mark for the Olympics is 6,000 points. Once you hit that mark then you have to place top 3 in the Olympic Trials to go on to the Olympics.

Natasha beat dozens of the best competitors in Canada, America, Latin America and South America to win the Pan American Cup, and she took second in the Canadian Games. She reached a number of personal records in her events which added up to make for a record overall score for her in the heptathlon.

Isn't that exciting?

Tash had a foot injury that necessitated surgery two years ago. The surgery precluded training for a year, so she is just getting back into the world of training and competition. Her performances this meet are so encouraging, especially considering the rough couple of years she's had! She's just getting started!

Woo hoo!

Having a moment with her coach while the Canadian flag flies in the background


Goooooo, Natasha!


Photo credit: Natasha's mom!

© by scj

Friday, July 11, 2014

A hike with my penpal

I'm still in Washington at my folks' house, and I just can't get enough of this place. The verdant hills. The damp forests. The winding rivers. The stately mountains. The people up here whom I've known since childhood. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to see everyone I want to see and do everything I want to do.

I've got a lot of adventures to blog about so I'm going to try to post my Washington adventures in manageable chunks, starting with one of my first excursions, last week, with my penpal, Mrs. T.

Mrs. T. has watched me grow from the time I was one year old. She's been a faithful encourager and prayer warrior for my family these last 28 years, and her weekly letters to me are a bright spot in my week.

Mrs. T. with my sister and me when we were 1 and 3 years old, respectively. I'm on the right.

A few days after I'd arrived in Washington, Mrs. T. gave me a call and suggested we take a trip up the Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls. The Gorge is an 80-mile-long canyon housing the Columbia River, which borders Oregon and Washington. Its views are spectacular.




We enjoyed the beautiful drive up, and stopped at lookout points whenever we felt like it.



Orange County friends: no doubt you noticed the amazing combination of my running shoes with  my skinny jeans in the above picture.

Pacific Northwestern Friends: no doubt you didn't notice my amazing outfit because you are currently wearing a similar outfit.

The Pacific Northwest is a tennis shoes, jeans, t-shirt and no makeup kind of place. It's also a no deodorant, shaving, or brushing your hair kind of place.

I'm surprised at how easily I've shed my Orange County ways and have assimilated with the Pacific Northwest natives. Minus the no-deodorant or no-shaving part. That is a norm with which I cannot get on board.

I suppose my acquired Orange County ways have made me a bit of a deodorant snob. I never used to notice the, er, shall we say "granola" ways of the people in my homeland. But these days the smells of the Pacific Northwest never cease to surprise me. And I'm not talking about the scent of pine...

Nonetheless, you can't take the Washington out of an Orange County girl.

Mrs. T. and I hiked halfway up Multnomah falls and chatted about all sorts of things. She told me how she and Mr. T. met and how they each came to know Jesus, and she filled me in on some of the goings on in my hometown.

Multnomah Falls

Mrs. T. is truly lovely. I hope I'm like her when I grow up. I especially hope I am as faithful in prayer as she is. Daily, she asks the Lord to give me great joy. And I must say, the knowledge that she is asking God for this gives me great joy.

When we were finished hiking we ate lunch on sunny patio of the restaurant at the base of the falls. And then, when our tummies were full, we headed home where I met up with a friend for another adventure.


Hope your weekend is looking to be lovely!

More later,

Sarah

© by scj

Friday, July 4, 2014

Let's party like it's 1776!

Happy 4th of July, you lovely friends of mine, you!

Pictured: Little brother, Marc (right); Marc's college roommate (bottom left); our childhood friend E (middle); and I

Let freeeeeeeeeedooooom ring!


© by scj

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A summer death

When I was a kid I was convinced I'd be the next Apollo Ono. My skinny little self had a need for speed and loved to be active. I was also a whiz on roller blades. Well, I was according to my elderly neighbor, anyway. Actually, I believe her exact words were, "You sure are an ace on those things."

I'd recently read the word "ass" in one of my chapter books and, since I'd never heard it before, assumed it was pronounced "ace." I looked up the word in the dictionary and discovered it meant donkey and something else not very nice. So when my kindly neighbor told me I was an "[ass"] on those things," I was perplexed. I eventually assumed the word had three meanings, the third being, "you are so good at that skill that you will likely do it for a living one day." Naturally.

But I digress.

I loved whipping around the cul-de-sac in my skates, practicing crossing my right foot over my left when I turned left and skating backwards without wobbling. I even mastered the "Lift your left leg up and out, and stick your arms out like wings" maneuver. How I could be so good at roller blading and not eventually head to the Olympics as a speed skater was a mystery to me. No doubt I'd go.

And then I discovered the 100 and 300-meter hurdles and forgot about my speed skating aspirations. I didn't, however, forget the joy of cruising around the neighborhood on a slick set of wheels, and continued to blade just for fun. In fact, roller blading is still one of my favorite activities to do when I visit my folks house.

My brother is a good sport and accompanies me on many of my blading outings.


Isn't he handsome?

If I had my way I'd capture some of our killer moves on film, but iPhones aren't great for that. Instead, I tried to come up with some cool poses:



It turns out cool poses are not one of my special gifts.

On Sunday the weather was so glorious we took our blades to the Columbia River waterfront. We even got Little Sister to join us!



This would have been the mother of all blading outings this week, except I have the same roller blades that my parents gave me when I was nine years old. I have never rotated or replaced any of the wheels, and my beloved blades decided to die on me a few minutes into our jaunt.

And now, I'd love it if you'd join me in a moment of silence in memory of my beloved blades.  

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when they died. A number of my wheels have almost no rubber left on them as a result of my avid blading over the years.


Poor little babies are stripped bare

So my new summer goal is to either rehabilitate my old blades or find some new ones that compare to my old ones. I think the latter might be a tricky task. My old blades love me unlike any pair of blades has ever loved me. They are the only blades I've ever owned, after all.

 In the meantime, we've been biking and walking, and today will be a day of frisbee.

Mount Hood is behind me


Mt. Saint Helens is to the right of my brother



Oh these hot summer days (and a body healthy enough to enjoy outdoor activity!). I love 'em.

© by scj

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Go West Young Man

I am happy to report that for seven straight days all has been well on the home front, car front, and computer front. Not only was life wonderfully quiet last week, but it was also full of Lavish (with a capital "L") gifts.  Everywhere I turned, people were doing gracious, caring things on my behalf. 

I've told you already about the friends who spent hours helping me clean my apartment last Sunday. That was just the beginning of my week of gifts. A couple of days later, my neighbor, L, gave me her piano. For free.

Playing the piano is a source of great comfort and joy for me. It is a cathartic and creative outlet that I've missed the last several years. Now that I have very own piano, I've been dancing frequent mental jigs — to the tune of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," naturally.


Upon receiving the piano, I realized we had a problem, Houston: it was going to be tricky to move it from L's house to my house. I had two days before I'd fly to Portland, and I didn't know if that was enough time to find and schedule movers. Because the last two months' mishaps have used up all my troubleshooting powers, I pushed the dilemma aside. Maybe the piano would just up and move itself?

Hours later, I met a woman who is moving into the house across the street from me. She'd heard from L that I needed my piano moved, so upon meeting me she said, "I have a piano mover coming Saturday to move my piano into my new house; I'll have him move L's piano to your house, too." 

Jackpot! I could get uuuuused to this easy living.

The next day I dropped by the house of my favorite pair of brothers (well, besides my pair of brothers, of course). I love these guys. I'd camp in their backyard every night if I could. Instead, I visit on Thursdays after I tutor and we sit around and try to plumb the depths of the world's mysteries. We also eat. I am known for eating entire bags of chips, by myself, during our conversations. And so you can imagine my delight when John, the oldest of the brothers, said, "Sarah, I got your favorite chips at Trader Joe's in case you were hungry. They're on the top shelf."

And then I ate half a bag of chips and he, his brother and I tried to figure out the telos of both romantic and non-romantic kissing. Which, it turns out, is a mystery that can't be solved in the time it takes to eat half a bag of chips.

The next day my friend Doug fixed my vacuum cleaner. On Sunday, when he'd come to help me clean my studio, he'd discovered that the belt was broken. So he went online, bought a new belt for me, and then, after the belts arrived, he fixed my 'cume. And just like that, I was cleaning up dirt and lint like nobody's business.

And finally, on Friday evening, my friends Kevy, Greg and I drove into the sunset up the coast in Kevy's convertible.

Kevy and I
 
Greg

We blasted Michael W. Smith's "Go West Young Man," and the wind gave me dreadlocks, and I gulped gallons of balmy sea breeze.

Looking at the ocean


Sweet heavens: there is very little on earth that beats cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway at sunset in a convertible.


When my dreadlocks were Bob Marley status, we stopped for dinner at a yummy restaurant. "I'm buying you dinner, Sarah," Kevy said. "I want you to feel special after the difficulties of the last few months."

And oh man, do I feel special. My community has been pressing in from all directions and I've felt wrapped up in a big ol' hug all week. I like being in the middle of this hug.

And today, I'm in Washington with my family on vacation.

The drive from the airport to my folks' house is stunning. Just look at that expansive sky!

Can this hug get any warmer, this week any better? Why, I believe my little brother is about to get out of bed and join me for tea before church, so yes, yes it can.

Happy Sunday, my friends!

-Sarah


© by scj

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This just in: a mid-week update

This just in: rainbow carrots are the best vegetable of life.

Notice the purple carrots with the yellow centers!

I cooked up the bag of carrots in a bit of butter and then devoured the entire pan within a few hours. Now, all I want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is rainbow carrots. They're so sweet and flavorful. Thank goodness Trader Joe's still has 'em. The cashier told me they're seasonal, so if you want to try them, now is the time!

Also, a few friends helped me wipe down every surface of my studio's main living area and I am happy to report that my studio is [hopefully] free of the post-renovation dust containing lead.


I am so thankful for these friends who gave up hours and hours of their weekend to help me clean. Their support makes my soul feel loads lighter.

And finally, the horizons in this area are especially smoggy this month which makes the air especially thick, which is especially yucky. The good news is, the weather has been especially glorious, especially for hiking. I especially love a sunshine-y hike like the one a friend and I enjoyed yesterday.



There ain't nothin' like a good sweat in the sunshine, folks.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

-Sarah



© by scj