Summer in the City: Storm Large at the Classical Chinese Gardens

We can place this event in the BV (Before Vacation) category. It feels like weeks ago that my friend LeeAnn and I took a quick trip downtown to take in our first concert at the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens.

Apparently these Chinese Garden summer concerts have been happening forever, but I was completely unaware of their existence until LeeAnn told me that Storm Large was going to be performing. I’ve been a fan of Storm Large since I saw her talk at a TEDx Portland event a few years ago. She was so eloquent and inspiring and, of course, her voice is amazing.

The Chinese gardens are an unusual place for a concert series. While the setup is quite intimate, the layout is a little awkward. LeeAnn and I weren’t able to get there very early so we missed out on some of the prime seats – although I get the feeling the season ticket holders filled those pretty quickly anyway.

A couple of things I’d do differently if I attended a future event at this venue – bring cash (the bar doesn’t take credit cards), bring a blanket or other soft thing to sit on (I lost some feeling in my tush after sitting on a concrete fence for two hours), pack the bug spray (lots of standing water) and get there early. Thankfully I packed an adult beverage for LeeAnn and I to share so we were able to bypass the no cash problem. I’m not sure if that was completely above board but it saved us paying $8 for a glass of mediocre wine and was a more refreshing option on a warm, humid night.

Still, despite arriving a little later than we’d hoped, we were able to find a spot with a good view of the stage.

And of the tea house behind us.

I can honestly say that Storm Large lived up to every expectation. She was funny, genuine and incredibly entertaining. She also acknowledged the weirdness of the venue, spending a lot of her time climbing the railing in front of the Gazebo/stage to get closer to the audience. I’m glad she didn’t fall in – but it would have made a good story.

It occurred to LeeAnn and I that we were amongst the youngest people attending this concert – something that you don’t experience very often when you start to approach 40. It made for some interesting (sometimes awkward) audience interactions. I wonder how many of the season ticket holders knew who Storm Large was before this concert.

Still, the venue was beautiful, the talent was amazing and the home-made cocktail added just the right amount of flavor.

And as the sun started to go down, it became a little more magical.

Highlights included of the night included a stalkerish version of Hopelessly Devoted to You (do yourself a favor and watch this live recording) and an equally stalker-friendly song, I Want You by Elvis Costello. The concert was three weeks ago and they were the ones that stuck with me which is perhaps a little concerning… 🙂

And when Storm ended on this song, it was the icing on the cake. (If you’re at work, best put on some headphones)

Such a fun night thanks to a wonderful entertainer. I’d brave the mosquitos again in a second.

Back. Relaxed. Rested… Well, In Theory

I’m back.

Yes, the family and I, with my Aussie parents in tow, just recently returned from the Oregon vacation to end all Oregon vacations. We saw ancient Lava flows, floated on the crisp blue waters of a crater lake, explored marble caves (in the middle of nowhere) and hugged a few giant redwoods. We gathered junior ranger badges, maps, amazing beach rocks and (unintentionally) sand. We stayed in modern condos, rustic cabins, ancient chalets and a house with a great location that took us on a 1960’s decor time warp.

And, of course, now I have about a quadrillion photos to edit. It’s the curse of the photographer. I’ll be back with more blog posts soon that share our adventures.

I’ll also share a few things that happened in the week before we left, including two fun photo shoots and a very special concert experience (it was a busy week).

Tomorrow I head back to work and prepare for the start of school next week. While I don’t feel rested, I do feel as though I had a great vacation. Now if only I could find a way to take some vacation to recover from my vacation.

Back with more of this soon…