Craziest thing I did all weekend (and in the last ten years maybe) - plus videos!

On Sunday, for a dear friend's bachelorette party, we went to Trapeze Arts in Oakland for some crazy good fun.

We started off harmlessly enough - a long round of stretches on the ground.  The instructors were very patient and moved us slowly but surely from one thing to another.  They had us first practice hanging from our knees on a stationary trapeze, very close to the ground.  Then, they had us practice our takeoffs, but on the ground.  Takeoff posture is very important to ensuring a good launch.

Then, the platform.  40 feet in the air!  This is where I got really nervous.  I don't know if you remember having to jump from the high dive during swimming lessons as a kid, but that terror--it was exactly the same. Even with the net, and the safety ropes, and the assurance that Jake would let us down easy if we landed incorrectly (which I did--multiple times) instead of letting us "eat it" facedown on the net.  We practiced swinging, bringing our legs up, hanging by our knees, arching our backs, and finally landing on our backs.

I sat out the second trick (simple backflip) - the first two runs really shook me up.  But I did the last trick, the "catch," where Hans, this beefy guy who has probably been trapezing for decades, swung on another trapeze and caught us as we arched our backs and held our hands outstretched.

If you're looking for a thrill but haven't quite worked up the nerve to go bungee jumping, sky-diving, or base-jumping...trapezing may be a fun and ALMOST TOTALLY SAFE alternative for you.

Below, there's 1) a video of the bachelorette backflipping like a pro, 2) Jake showing us how flying trapeze is really done, and 3), me doing the catch, though you have to fast-forward to 0:51 because there is a lot of downtime at the beginning of the vid.

Best of Portland

Some of the top images from the weekend.  I'd say they capture the spirit of the town.


1. Hotel room at the Nines.
2. Bhumi and the funny four-way drinking fountains.
3. Prints at the Compound Gallery.
4. Woodblock prints at the Compound Gallery
5. "Drama" on the way to Powell's.
6. Bike stands in front of Powell's.
7. Powell's city of books.
8. Snack at Urban Fondue: white cheddar, gruyere, brie, caramelized onions, port.
9. Pink peonies at Sammy's Flowers.
10. Toga run on NW 23rd.
11. Desserts at Papa Hadyn.
12. Garry, Seth and Maureen at Papa Hadyn.
13. Seth's asparagus appetizer with poached egg on top.
14. My roasted chicken breast with mushroom-leek bread pudding.
15. Garry's croque monsieur.
16. The library at the Nines hotel.
17. Garry ordering a drink at Kelly's.
18. Random pants next to a dumpster.
19. Random gallery near Powell's.
20. T-shirt, as seen outside Byways Cafe.
21. Garry's OJ at Byways Cafe.
22. Amaretto french toast with pecan butter, bacon and over-easy egg at Byways Cafe.
23. Hallway at Kennedy School.
24. Garry and a drinking fountain at Kennedy School.
25. The gym at Kennedy School.
26. Detention Bar at Kennedy School.
27. Boiler Room Bar at Kennedy School.
28. Hockey masks at Local 35 on Hawthorne.
29. "Two heads tripping under one mushroom" at House of Vintage on Hawthorne.
30. Food cart on Hawthorne - CLOSED on Sundays =(.
31. Food carts on Hawthorne.
32. Garry and his spicy-grilled...corn on the cob.
33. Walking across Hawthorne Bridge.
34. Walking across Hawthorne Bridge.
35. Willamette River as seen off of Hawthorne Bridge.
36. "You're Cool" on Hawthorne Bridge.
37. Random park in downtown.
38. Sushi Land - conveyor belt sushi!

In Portland...$0.75 buys you a rocket pop and a song.

We were walking near the waterfront on our way to Saturday market when this tattooed young woman pushing ice cream in a tricycle came pedaling down the street with a giant red clown 'fro.  Garry stopped her for a rocket pop (you know, the red/white/blue ones) and she goes, "it also comes with a song!"

The next day, we ran into the same girl in a completely different part of Portland, in a neighborhood grocery on Hawthorne.  Alas, she was not wearing her giant red clown 'fro.

Foggy Sunday: Brunch & Fortune-Telling

It was the perfect way to spend a quiet, foggy Sunday afternoon: a gathering of ladies for Albanian treats, fruit, tea, and Turkish coffee.

This was the first time I drank Turkish coffee - there's a whole process to its preparation and how you use the grinds for fortune-telling.  We don't take the fortunes too seriously but it was fun, and a bit like cloud-watching, to read into symbols we saw and try our hand at interpreting them.

Canan brought the coffee and the cezve (special small pot) all the way from Turkey.  Hava added ground coffee, sugar, and water and placed it over the burner until it started to boil and foam at the top.  She poured it into tiny coffee cups and we had it with baklava.

After each of us finished her coffee, we placed the saucer on top of the cup and swirled it three times, clockwise, then turned the cup over onto the table.  We had to wait about ten minutes for the grinds to cool and dry against the cups.  Canan told us we could place metal jewelry or a coin on top to speed the cooling.  When each cup was ready, Canan carefully turned it over and began the reading.  My fortune, she said, was very clear, with not a lot of distortion or confusion (strange, because I've certainly felt a lot of confusion in my life).  Keep in mind she is not very practiced at fortune telling, and anyway it's all up to individual interpretation. =)
  • The first thing she saw was a very clear road leading to a V (which looked a bit like a Y): Could I think of a person or place that starts with the letter V?  Or is it a long road to eventual victory?
  • She saw a tiny bear paw: plans to commune with nature?  Interesting - I have plans to visit Portland soon!
  • A heart with someone talking over it: indeed, I had just spent about six hours on Friday talking about relationships, with a friend.  Though now that I look at it again, it looks like a snake trying to attack the heart, but there are two hands protecting the heart.
  • A camel: no idea what this means.  Any guesses?
  • The number 2
  • Anything else?
Check out this blog that is all about Turkish coffee, including common symbols and their interpretations!

Berkeley Day

Last weekend my friends and I made a day of it in Berkeley, from 11:30am to 10:30pm.  Basically the whole day revolved around food.  It was fun, as Berkeley always is.  Highlights:

  • Tour (or more like a lecture) at the Charles Chocolates factory in Emeryville
  • Berkeley Bowl market, where you can find something like 30 varieties of apples (among other things)
  • Cheeseboard pizza...yum!
  • Gourmet ghetto on Shattuck
  • 4th street shopping, esp the Crate & Barrel outlet and bizarre kitchenware at Sur la Table
  • Dinner at Nan Yang, a Burmese restaurant in the Rockridge neighborhood
  • Dessert at Ici ice cream, by the former pastry chef of Chez Panisse

2009 Tournament of Roses Parade

A Southern California New Year's Day tradition.  20+ years of living in the LA metro area, and my family has never before gone on New Year's Eve to see the floats all lined up before the parade.  It was a long drive out to Pasadena, but well worth it!  We got to see the floats up close, down to individual beans painstakingly glued to the signs.  Everything was gorgeously elaborate, and there were tons of people, young and old, milling about.  Enjoy =)