Monday, June 29, 2009

When Dragon Boats Collide

The World Beat Festival turned out really well this year. The booths were interesting, the music was good, the dancing was beautiful, and the dragon boat races were very popular. Unfortunately, one of them tipped over. Personally, I thought watching them try to figure out what to do after it tipped, dumped them out, and filled with water was the most entertaining part of the show. I realize that just sounds mean and morbid, but it really was entertaining. They seemed to be in good spirits and nobody got hurt, so I don't feel too bad. After floundering around in the water for awhile, they decided to pull it up to the bank and empty it. Easier said than done, I'm sure, but they made it.

Struggling to get under the line towards shore

Almost there! You can see how much water is in the boat in this one. It was nearly full.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last Thursday on Alberta Street in Portland

Have you ever seen a bumper sticker stating "Keep Portland Weird" and wondered exactly where all this weirdness in Portland was? I have. I never realized until Last Thursday on Alberta Street exactly how weird (and crazy and wonderful and fun) Portland was.

Last Thursday is north Portland's answer to the Pearl District's First Thursday celebration. But, my oh my, it is Portland at it's weirdest. The party starts at 10th and Alberta and goes all the way up to the 30's. The streets are closed off and the businesses open their doors for the floods of people streaming up and down the streets. Street musicians and craft sellers come out of the woodwork to set up shop along the busy thoroughfare. The restaurants and bars are packed to the gills, the galleries-serving free drinks and appetizers-are a filled to the brim, and the sidewalks and streets are pulsing with the music and life.

Oh, and the freaks come out of the woodwork. In the best way. Clowns on stilts, drag queens with painted clown faces, barefoot banjo-players, fire-dancers wearing mini-skirts and fishnet stockings, grizzly bear costumes, and the list goes on.

You really just have to go see it for yourself. It's a feast for the eyes and ears. And the best part? It's free, so that you can spend all your money on some interesting piece of art or a delicious dinner from one of the many restaurants.

An impromptu dance party in memory of the "King of Pop"

Possibly loose from the set of "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou"

Just a car parked nearby

Elvis? Is that you?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Townhouses Behind Salem Cinema

We were walking around the Broadway neighborhood today (what did we ever decide to call that area, anyway?) and decided to stop by and check out the new townhouses going in. I'd seen the brochure for them and gulped at the starting price of $288,000. ARE YOU KIDDING??

Well, today the realtor just happened to stop by while we were peeking in windows and offered a tour. I'm not one to turn down a chance to ogle and drool over a new house, so in we went.

Now, I must admit. They are very nicely laid out. Actually there are three layouts and we got to see two of them. They are about 1800 sq. feet and have nice open floor plans and lots of light. I also liked the fact that they have a two car attached garage and a decent sized deck. Since they don't have much in the way of yards, I think that's really important.

I'm still gulping at the price and I can't see how they're actually going to be able to sell them, beautiful as they are, for that price. Maybe I'm being a little pessimistic, but in this economy and in this location...I just don't see it happening. A few maybe, but 16 lots? I think they're going to have to come down on the price a bit, and I sure hope they factored that in when they were building so the developer comes out okay.

If that's in your price range though, definitely have a look. I think as people move in and start to make the place a neighborhood, it is going to be a nice little spot in a prime location.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Saving the Environment in Downtown Salem

I got my bike out yesterday. Picked it up from it's storage place in my parent's garage (where it has been ever since I was a teenager) and decided to start using it as a mode of transportation. Usually, I walk wherever I can, but I decided a bike could help me get further, faster. A friend brought her brand new bike over and we decided to try them out.

First I decided to try heading over the Union St. Pedestrian Bridge (does that thing have an actual name? I just keep making names up for it!). A word of warning: don't try crossing at Union and Commercial Streets. It's a suicide mission. We went a block north to the crosswalk and had a much better experience. The bridge is great for bikes, and we rode around the park a bit, came back across and decided to head down front street to the Grocery Outlet. My friend had to stay outside with the bikes while I ran in because we forgot to bring a lock (note to self: buy a good bike lock). I packed my groceries into my backpack and off we went again towards home.

It worked out pretty well, except for the fact that I didn't have a bike lock and I'm going to have to make multiple grocery runs, since I cannot carry much in my backpack without being off balance. Either that or get myself a nice bicycle basket!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trying to Eat Healthy at Sonic on Lancaster

So, I decided to try out Sonic for the first time the other day. I kept hearing online and from different people that they have one of the most healthy menus for a fast food restaurant. So, I stopped in on my way to Winco to check it out.

I'm not really a fast food kind of girl, but I usually manage to eat something fast-foody once or twice a month (although lately it might be more like once a week. I better watch that!). So, I'm not all up to speed on how to do the whole drive up, car-hop kind of thing. So I pull into a slot, read the relatively easy instructions, "Push button to order," and I order a grilled chicken sandwich (no mayo, bbq sauce on the side) with a diet drink. Big surprise, they have BOTH diet Coke AND diet Dr. Pepper. You don't see that in a lot of restaurants, so I got the Dr. Pepper just for fun. But then, oh then, they asked if I wanted tater tots on the side. Of course I want tots!! How can I order apple slices when they offer me tots?? Right there in the little microphone, they just come right out and say it? Do you want tater tots or...I didn't even hear the rest. So there went my healthy choice right out the window.

Although, out of pure guilt I easily said no to the microphone voice's offer of a Bundt Cake Sundae.

And you know what? The food was pretty good. Well, of course the tots were good, but the chicken sandwich with bbq sauce was pretty satisfying too..

And wouldn't you know it. When they bring you your food, some of them are actually on roller skates.

  • Easy to order, easy to pay - just slide your credit card in the slot next to the mic.

  • They come around with extra sauces and napkins as you sit eating in your car.

  • Trying to balance food and find a flat place to set things down.

  • People tempting me away from healthy eating with tots.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Pedicure Confession

I have a confession to make. As much as I love and support Salem, I often find myself driving all the way up to Portland for a pedicure. And the reason is Vogue Nails II on Broadway. I have never found another place that makes me so happy with my pedicure. A pedicure is a luxury that I really enjoy, and getting one that is just so-so is really disappointing to me. I've tried plenty of spots here in Salem, and some of them are definitely okay. Just not excellent. Not like Vogue Nails. It's the atmosphere, the massage, the scrubbing and scraping of the calloused feet. It's the friendliness, the quality of the polish, the pedicures that just last and last until my toenails grow out. It's all those things and I just keep going back. I don't go up there all the time, but whenever I need to go to Portland anyway, I try to leave myself an hour to get a pedicure at my favorite spot. It's just off the freeway (map), so try it sometime and tell me if I'm just crazy or if this place is actually better than others.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ignite Salem a Sucess!

Intermission at Ignite Salem

I really didn't have any expectations going into IgniteSalem since I wasn't really sure what it was all about. It turned out to be a really neat experience. There were lots of really neat, short presentations about things that people in and around Salem are passionate about. Basically, it's a chance for people to share something they care about with an audience. What was really neat was to see how much participation there was and how much excitement for the event. And this is just the first one!

And just in case you were wondering we have a lot of talented, passionate people in Salem. I know Ignite was just a small sampling of what Salem has to offer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chickens in Salem in the Wall Street Journal?

It looks like our little chicken issue might be getting some national attention. I just got a call this afternoon from the Wall Street Journal. The reporter wanted to interview me about my opinions on this issue since I'm involved in my neighborhood association. He said he had seen the issue on the internet one day and had noticed that it was an issue being debated across the country.

So, maybe this will help get the wheels turning on this whole chicken issue.

New Taxes in Oregon

Okay, so here's my question. Are we really going to be taxed on our health insurance benefit as if it were income?

I keep hearing rumors around town that this was one of the new taxes that was just passed as part of the $1 billion tax package. Does anyone know if this is true? The only thing I've been able to find is this article from the Statesman that mentions health care premiums.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gardening in Pots and The Best Garden Gloves EVER

I decided to upgrade the apartment courtyard this weekend and add some potted flowers. Well, $75 and 10 hours later we now have a luscious backyard garden - all in pots. Luckily, another tenant wanted to help out, so we split the effort and the cost. We found the pots in the garden shed, so we didn't have to buy those. The plants we got at Fred Meyer and Rite-aid (of all places).

Rite-aid had some beautiful geraniums that we couldn't resist. Fred Meyer was having a 10 for $10 sale on annuals, so we picked up a bunch of colorful plants. Potting soil was the most expensive thing on our list. And then we saw these pretty garden gloves with rubber palms and we just had to have them. They were similar to these gloves with a latex palm and fingers, but they were a different brand. (I can't find them online. I think they are a Freddy's brand). But they are seriously awesome! My rest of my body may be feeling the gardening aches, but my hands look like I just got a manicure.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Local Oregon Strawberries: Found

Awesome! I bought my first batch of local strawberries yesterday. I saw a truck set up on River Rd in Keizer, between Arby's (yes, the one with free things on Wednesdays!) and the little nursery. I got there at about 5 PM. I was only going to buy 3 pints, but he offered me a deal, what with it being the end of the day and all. I ended up getting a half flat for $9. I'm pretty sure that's a good deal, but I haven't looked around much yet. He was selling the half flat (or six pints) for $11 regularly. He gets the berries from Nanneman's Farms and sells all through the berry seasons.

I started eating them when I got in the car, dirt and all. I just couldn't resist the freshly picked smell of them! Delicious.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cafe Noir and the Didgeridoo

Looking for a nice place to do some work online Saturday night, I ended up at Cafe Noir. Perfect. It's open late, they have wireless, and there were plenty of tables available. Well, that was at 7 pm. By the time 9 pm rolled around, the place was standing room only. They had two bands booked for the night. I use the term "bands" loosely, as the first one was a didgeridoo player named Jake Duncan and his assortment of didgeridoos. In case you haven't heard of them before didgeridoos are an aboriginal Australian instrument, with what my friend described as a "nutty sound."

I'm not sure if people were there to hear the didgeridoo, the other band, All In Perspective, or if they were drawn in off the streets by the strange sounds coming from the place.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rolling Bagel Company: A Hidden Gem on Lancaster

If you've never tried a bagel from our own locally owned and operated Rolling Bagel Company then you haven't really lived. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement. You haven't really experienced Salem may be more like it.

Rolling Bagel is located in a little hidden alcove off of Lancaster. It is at the back of a parking lot surrounded by strip mall style offices from the 70's. You enter the parking lot next to China Faith Restaurant, just north of Market St. It is in a light purple building all the way at the back.

It's location doesn't seem to keep it from doing a brisk morning business, particularly with the law enforcement crowd. And you know that where the cops stop for break, there is usually great food.

The bagels are all made onsite and they are the best bagels I've had. Right up there with the bagel shops in New York City where they slather on cream cheese and wrap them up in aluminum foil.

Rolling Bagel also does a great soup bar with at least 5-7 different soups a day. They have biscuits, pastries, and sandwiches as well. Unfortunately, they are not open on weekends, currently. So make your way over to Salem's only real bagel shop on a weekday morning and check out the bagels, or buy some to go. It may look a little funky and be hard to find, but I don't think you'll regret it for a minute.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Graduation at the Elsinore on First Wednesday

I just barely got to enjoy First Wednesday as I walked over to the Elsinore last night. As I walked though, I could hear music from different street corners and there were people filling pretty much every outdoor table I could see, from Starbucks to Grand Vines, and from La Capitale to The Six. It gave me a little taste of the potential (there's that word again!) we have in this town. It was like everyone had come out to celebrate with us at the Roberts High School Graduation!

Now, the potential of the graduates at the Elsinore last night was on full display and was fully realized. If you've never been to a graduation at an alternative school, you can't really understand the tears that are shed every year there. Graduation at any school is a great accomplishment, but for students who feared they would never make, for the families for whom this is their first ever graduate, for the staff who labored for months or years to keep the students coming to school, it is nothing short of miraculous.

The stories behind each of these graduates are amazing. Some of them have fought against odds that I can hardly imagine in my safe little life. I am constantly amazed at the resilience of these young people and I feel blessed to encourage and help them along the way. It may have taken extra time, there may have been roadblocks and rough patches along the way, but they kept at it and they finished!

And that's why I keep doing this job. The rewards may not come every day, but when they do, they are inspiring.

One more thing to love about Salem: awesome alternative programs for the kids who just don't fit the mold!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Salem Beer and Blog Meeting

The first ever! It was exciting to see so many people show up at the first Beer and Blog meeting in Salem. I think we've really got something going here. It seems so strange that even though the blogging world is ginourmous (sp?), Salem's is quite small still. Perhaps that's because there are lots of bloggers out there that haven't actually had a way of meeting up. Now you do! So come out of the woodwork, all ye bloggers, and come to the next meeting of Beer and Blog.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wandering Aengus and a Revolution at Venti's

Finally. I have been hearing wonderful things about Wandering Aengus Cider and I got my first taste of it at Venti's last night. They are not only have it on tap, but are selling bottles of it so that you may enjoy the delightfully refreshing drink at home, as well! It went very well with my Morroccan Beef Plate, which was oh, so satisfying.

And then, off in the other corner was a swelling group of people who sounded like revolutionaries. I'm pretty confident that Salem is going to see some changing times because of this group. It was their first meeting and I think, from the sounds of it, they could slowly, silently rock the boat of the status quo here in our town. And I love it.

Rock on!