Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Dishes

The snow tapered off in the night, but the forecasts are all calling for doom and gloom and lots of snow for this evening through tomorrow night (in fact, they've already called off church for tomorrow thanks to the storm!); so I dashed out earlier today in search of musical odds and ends.

While shopping, I ducked into Cost Plus to check out their selection of couches.  No luck there, but I did spot some dishes I really liked.  My current dishes are a combination of a set Mom and Dad got at their wedding and a set I got at the Wedgewood factory outlet store while visiting Mercedes in England.  I've been thinking about getting new dishes for several years now, and today I finally splurged!

The ones I found are colorful and fun, and I decided to mix and match styles for a more exotic look that reflects my tastes in travels:

Sets, Ballet, and Rachel's Birthday

The musical is chugging along right on schedule, which means I'm painting sets and making props in between teaching classes.  A parent volunteered to make us some stairs (hooray!), so I drew up some blueprints and he brought in a truck load of wood and power tools.  They're almost done, so my students and I painted them during 1st and 2nd period today.

Like all of my sets, they are minimalist and designed for high reusability.  Such is the need when the only tools that came with my theater is a bent hammer and a broken drill.  Thank goodness for the occasional involved parent with construction experience!

I told the cast earlier in the week that we would be cutting Friday's rehearsal short this week, ending at 4:00 instead of the previously-scheduled 5:00.  "Why?" they asked, stunned at the thought of me giving them a break two weeks from the show.

"Because Waterhouse has ballet tickets," I told them.

Cindy and I had tickets to the Colorado Ballet's Masterworks program that night.  It also happened to be Rachel's birthday, and when she told me that Ben was taking the kids to a hotel for the night so she could have the time off; I immediately insisted she join us for the show.

We started off with dinner at Euclid Hall in Larimer Square.  Known for their beer and house-made sausage, I've been wanting to try them for a while, and they did not disappoint.  The heavy food was delicious and perfect for the snowy night.

Fried cheese curds
Assortment of pickles
Schnitzel on a vinegar-French fry "salad"
Selection of mustards and the winner of the night: Rachel's order of cheese-topped spatzel

The Masterworks program was comprised of three selections - Balanchine's Concerto Barocco

(Photo from here since the Colorado Ballet didn't have any of this piece)

In Pieces (a contemporary work that premiered in 2013), 


and Bernstein/Robbin's Fancy Free

The Balanchine piece was lovely and complex.  The second movement in particular had the dancers weaving around and through each other in a way that was mesmerizing and I found myself wishing that I could watch many of the moments from the dance over and over again via the dance gifs I've come to love.  In Pieces was stunning.  The complicated choreography, the muscular yet graceful skill of the six dancers, the lighting design,  the men in modernist tutus - it was all right up my alley and exactly why I love modern ballet.  Fancy Free, in contrast to the other two, was sloppy and dated (and not in a happy-nostalgic way).  In fact, we were all surprised to see how the tale of three sailors looking to pick up women didn't feel innocent and playful like On the Town (which was inspired by this piece), but instead felt demeaning and rape-y.

The first two pieces, though, were outstanding.

The much-anticipated snow was falling thicker and faster after the show, so we decided against getting some ice cream in favor of a quick parking lot selfie and safe drives home.

Portland Sunday

Sunday began with waiting in line yet again for another highly recommended place:

Pine State Biscuits
The food was good, but not quite worth the wait (plus, I like DenBisCo better).  We did make good use of the time in line, though, and hammered out plans for future travels (most likely a week in China this summer and somewhere exotic over Christmas)!

Fried chicken with mustard and pickles on a biscuit, "gourmet" chocolate milk, and fried green tomatoes (the best part of the meal)

We drove to the other side of town to check out the Japanese gardens, which I enjoyed the last time I was in Portland.  I was eager to see them in a different season and with our newfound knowledge of all things Japanese thanks to our travels last year.  I missed the markers of the shrines in Japan (the red gates, the hanging zig-zags, the statuary), but these gardens are beautifully maintained and reminded me how friendly moss seems to be.

I also discovered upon looking back through my photos that I was apparently quite drawn to running water:

From there we headed to the Portland Art Museum to check out their special exhibit on Italian fashion in the 20th century.  They had some gorgeous dresses, but the real winner of the day was the "Forbidden Fruit" exhibit.

Sculptor Chris Antemann was commissioned to create a porcelain banquet scene, and she did so in the baroque style but from a post-feminist view.  The Garden of Eden-inspired figures and scenes are both stunning and hilarious, and we thoroughly enjoyed looking at the playful figures doing somewhat scandalous things:

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the grocery store, then headed back to Seattle.  A traffic jam in Portland pushed us to the time limit, but we happily made it to the Village Theatre in Issaquah just in time to see their production of "Around the World in 80 Days."

A terrible picture by me
A better picture from their website

The show suffered from the unfortunate situation of a good production of a bad play.  With just five actors playing several roles, they used tricks similar to those in "The 39 Steps."  I enjoyed the theatricality, but the lone woman in the show and the script were both stiff and dislikable.

A quick scan of Yelp revealed a nearby Five Guys that was still open post-show, so we had a late dinner:

and then drove to Jason's home.  He gave me a tour of his new house - it's all straight lines; and blues, browns, and grays; and stylish; and masculine; and gorgeous; and completely Jason.

The next morning Jason headed off to work and I left for the airport to leave the sunny 60-degree days of the Pacific Northwest and come home to the snow and cold of Colorado:

It was an excellent weekend trip and a much-needed break from the grind of musical season!

Portland Saturday

Following a delicious Swedish breakfast, Jason and I headed to a part of Portland where we heard funky shopping could be found.  

Happily, the rumors were true!  We walked up and down the street, exploring many interesting shops.

I picked up a treat for my parents here along with some tasty chocolates.

At Pistils Nursery, Jason picked out a new cactus friend, with whom I became quite close on the ride home.  Have you ever been charged with keeping a cactus stable on the car floor in front of you for a three hour drive?  It's tricky, especially when its anxious new owner kept leaning over to pat the gravel and rearrange an errant leaf at every stoplight while I nursed my wounded fingers and thighs.

While Jason was deliberating between plants, I looked around the rest of the store.  When I walked out back, I was startled to see movement in one of the bins:

Surprise Chicken!

They had a coop in the back among the "plants for intrepid gardeners," and I made friends with several wandering fowl.

I wondered if it was the most Portland thing I'd see, but then the sign next door suggested otherwise.

As did the store full of lightbulbs we found:

The gallery full of terrible art and feminist postcards:

And my favorite store of the day, Paxton Gate:

How can you not love a taxidermy store that has a  stuffed hyena in vintage goggles next to the cash register?

Or crocheted pig dissections?

Or a variety of eyeballs next to a basket of goat legs?

Their display of "impulse buys" next to the register were also a bit unusual:

Jason spent a while picking out a new butterfly for his house:

While I considered the biology of raccoon penis bones:

And found an idea for an Easter craft for Relief Society:

It is an awesome store.

We were famished by the end, so we drove out to Pok Pok, a place that two different friends of Jason's had both highly recommended:

We waited in line to put our names on the list for a good 40-45 minutes before snagging a seat at the counter and ordering a variety of super-tasty dishes that were worth the wait:

Chicken wings with fish sauce, green papaya salad, pork belly in curry (which was outstanding!), cucumber relish, and mandarin orange drinking vinegar

We discovered that another recommended place was nearby, so after lunch we headed up the block to Salt and Straw for some ice cream and another long line:

The inside of the store, after we waited about 20 minutes outside.
The menu.
After much debate, we narrowed down our selection to four choices from the menu above.  Then, when we arrived at the counter, we discovered that these were their specials and we had, in fact, almost a dozen more flavors to choose from.  Oh, the agony!

We sampled and deliberated, then landed on our four choices:

Cinnamon snickerdoodle, pear with blue cheese, ginger and tamarind chocolate sorbet, and salt ice cream with a carmel ribbon

They were all delicious, but my favorite was, surprisingly,  the pear with blue cheese.  Again, totally worth the wait.

Earlier in the week Rachel shared this outstanding movie review, which I passed along to Jason.  He agreed that we absolutely should see such a gloriously bad movie, so we found an early showing.

It was just as incredibly horrible as the review promised, and we congratulated ourselves on making such an entertaining activity choice inbetween trying to sort out the four different movies that were crammed into this single space soap opera and declaring that I need a lip jewel:

(Jason's idea)

as much as Jason needs to incorporate Eddie Redmayne's whisper-yelling into negotiations:

We wound up the day with dinner at The Picnic House, a restaurant with eclectic decorations and good food near the hotel.

Grilled feta with bread/pita wedges
Mushroom soup and a Caesar-style salad
Creme brulee and raspberry-chocolate macarons for dessert
The check even came tucked between the pages of a vintage collection of short stories.