Side Trip: San Diego

Last month I found myself on a plane to San Diego for a quick two day work visit. While I didn’t see much of the city outside the convention center, I took a few photos to prove that I was actually there. The palm trees, the sunsets and the smell of the ocean said welcome to Southern California, if only for a fleeting moment.

Dao Fu was tasty, even if it broke the “Japanese food can’t really be authentic if it’s served with Vietnamese food” rule.

Cooling Down

What a fun weekend! We managed to squeeze a lot in but we also enjoyed a little downtime. That’s the best kind of weekend in my opinion.

Kei and I managed to land a couple of tickets to see Book of Mormon at the Keller Auditorium in Portland on Saturday. While it felt a little strange to see a musical at 2pm on a 90 degree Portland Summer day, it was definitely worth the couple of hours of air conditioned comfort. Such a funny, entertaining, slightly (ok, very) offensive show. I really want to see it again but it’s a little spendy so I’ll have to make do with YouTube replays.

I ran errands on Sunday while the boys watched the Soccer World Cup final. The look of devastation on Samuel’s face when I got home told me that Argentina lost and, while I’m sad for my child, I did appreciate the two hours of quiet shopping time while the rest of the city watched TV. Then Kei took the boys to a baseball game in Salem and I was blessed with 6 hours all to myself. I did laundry, cleaned up and caught up on some Master Chef Australia. I know I live life on the edge.

It’s been a warm Portland Summer so far and this week is not exception. I’m grateful that the boys are spending the majority of their time indoors at music camp while the heat and humidity is at it worst but, sadly, our house is most comfortable at around 80 degrees. So, we’ve been finding other ways to cool  off – trips to the public pool, visits with friends to play in their temporary summer pools and popsicles, lots of popsicles.

But there is one thing we always find ourselves enjoying at some point over the Portland summer and that’s the low tech, but highly effective, fun of the sprinkler. It worked for me as a child growing up in Australia (when we didn’t have water restrictions) and it works just as well over here on the other side of the world. These photos are from a couple of weeks ago but I have a feeling the sprinkler will make another appearance when we hit the mid 90s tomorrow.

I think they had a good time.

Independence Day 2014

I already shared one of my more surreal images from our July 4th celebrations but I’m never one to post just a photo or two from a day that included fireworks.

We spent the first few hours of our celebration at the home of one of Kei’s golfing buddies – a friend who also happens to own a pretty delicious Hawaiian restaurant in Portland so, FOOD! At one point I loaded up my plate and counted five different types of meat. The margaritas were also pretty good which explains why some of my photos from later in the evening were a little shakier than usual.

Despite the 200 or so people who attended the party, it was a relaxed event with lots of Hawaiian music and random acts of Hula. The whole experience really made me want to jump on a plane to Hawaii. (Random Acts of Hula would make a great band name. You’re welcome to use it.)

The kids enjoyed Hawaiian-style shave ice, drowned with colors not found in nature.

While we had originally planned to stay for what was sure to be an epic Fireworks display, a quick family poll revealed that the boys were looking forward to lighting some of their own so we headed home around 9:30. The fact that they stayed awake for the entire car ride at that time of the night meant that the Hawaiian shave ice was doing its job.

At home, Kei let my teeny tiny little 8 year old light a few fireworks. I tried to remain calm.

Side Note: The yellow cast in the photograph is from an overheat streetlight in the alley behind our house. We started a little earlier last year so I was able to avoid it.

We started with the smallest fireworks and then gradually moved up to the bigger displays with names like “Hell Fire.”

The blue bucket is there for the trash. At one point I referred to it as the “trash bucket” and our neighbor thought I was using a new Aussie slang for “rubbish bin”. It surprises me how I can still so easily be misunderstood even after 11 years in this country, even when I’m trying to talk like an American. Trash Bucket would also make a good band name.

This next photo is a rather cool mistake.

After we exhausted our small supply, we headed down to the corner of our street where the neighbors brought out the big guns.

I managed to take two or three photos before Thomas begged to go home to bed. When that sugar crash hits, you have no other option.

And that’s a wrap for Independence Day, 2014. God bless America (and friends and hawaiian food and fireworks).

Post-Holiday Monday and Karaoke for the YWCA

It’s the Monday after the holiday weekend. The day when you look back on all the fun you had and just wish you could go back and do it again instead of sitting in front of a computer. Although I have to admit that sitting in air conditioned comfort is a nice change of pace.

Although how can I really complain after an epic weekend that included a 4th of July party with Hawaiian music and hula dancers, fireworks (of course), a fun afternoon at the swimming pool, gatherings with friends, and sunshine, PLENTY of sunshine.

And, because I had such a great weekend, I haven’t had time to edit any photos (not that I took many amidst all the fun). So instead, I’ll share photos from a  different type of light show.

I was recently asked to volunteer as photographer at a Karaoke fundraising event for the Portland YWCA. The event itself was so much fun (seems to be a theme for this blog post) and raised a lot of money for this very important cause. I recommend every non-profit organization consider a little Karaoke in their fundraising plans. The key is to line up a few amazing singers in advance to get the party started, although I was a little too intimidated by their incredible talent to get up on stage myself. Sometimes it’s best to make the call to stay behind the camera.

The event was held at Refuge, an event space on the SE side of Portland. That American flag in the photo below is on the side of one of the trains that passed by every hour or so. The noise added to the party vibe but I’m not sure it would be as pleasant for a wedding.

Don’t be fooled by the costume, her singing voice was amazing.

Despite the tricky lighting, I’d be more than willing to volunteer for this event again next year. Great music, fun people and a fantastic cause – three key ingredients that make me one very happy photographer.

Camp Westwind: That’s a Wrap

The last couple of weeks have been a blur of travel and summer camps so posting on here has been a sporadic. The boys are in a different camp every week this summer to keep things interesting. Last week was Japanese camp, the week before was about Ranch animals and this week they’re spending a few days brushing up on their soccer skills with the timbers.  It’s a great test of my Mummy brain to remember where to take them and at what time.

But before all of the summer camps, there was camp Westwind – I’ve shared photos in previous posts here and here. Today’s multitude of photos tell the story of a kid with some acting skills, beach treasures, a hike through bear and cougar country, a view to die for, some friendly competition and a deep beach hole. Because a trip to the beach is just not the same unless you dig a really deep hole.

Wonderful memories that we plan to build on next year at this magical place.