Archive for August, 2007

Surfing & Tide pools

David and I went surfing on Sunday. It started out a little grey, but gradually the clouds began to part and the sun to shine. Before surfing we usually take a look at Oregon Surf Check, wavewatch.com and these live surf cams of the Oregon Coast. Turns out it wasn’t a good wave day, but we didn’t really care. I think we just wanted to get out of the house and take advantage of the few beautiful days left of summer. We didn’t even bother trying to get past the break and instead just rode whitewater. I wish I could have taken out my camera and snapped a few shots from the ocean.

After surfing I spent a little time inspecting the tide pools. I don’t know why I don’t do this every time we go. There always seems to be something new to see. Here are a few pictures of my finds, with some names that David helped me look up in our handy National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest.

The North edge of the tide pools, with a sea stack in the background

Not sure what this was, but it looked cool

A Black Turban Snail

An Ochre Sea Star, about 8″

Possibly a Purple Shore Crab, about 1.5″

The amazing texture on the side of a tide pool rock
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Pay It Forward Craft Exchange – Part 2

I finally had some time today to follow through on my pledge to send the first three people who responded to this post a handmade gift. It’s been on my mind off and on recently, trying to decide what to make. First of all, I didn’t want to attempt something too complicated, too time consuming or create a mess that would take forever to clean up. Secondly, I didn’t want to have to purchase any new supplies, instead I wanted to try to use materials I already had on hand.

I started off with one of my old standbys, making cards, but after the third one I realized I wasn’t very enthused by how they were turning out. Then one day I was inspired by one of the blogs listed to my blog surfer. Diane Aldred, an English artist, makes really beautiful hand-bound books. They are way too fancy for me to ever attempt, but I liked the idea and began to consider how I could simplify it down to something more manageable. Also, if there is one thing that our household never lacks, it’s paper. Graphic designers just love paper. We collect it, we hoard it and more often than not, what once seemed so precious eventually just sits around gathering dust.

In the end, I decided to recycle some small 3.5 x 3.5 inch Neenah Paper samples and make them new covers. First I cut out a piece of old burgundy colored cover stock that we’ve had since college. Then, using a swivel bladed x-acto, I traced out an abstract cherry blossom design for the front. To highlight the cut-out I simply sandwiched a contrasting piece of pale yellow paper between the cover layers. Et voilà, a handmade piece was complete! And lucky Anne, she’ll even get a matching organza bag that I’m recycling from here for being the first to respond. 🙂

Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvannia

Not far from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob is a wonderful state park called Ohiopyle. I’m not sure how it got that name, being in Pennsylvannia instead of Ohio, but it features another strangely named river called the Youghiogheny [yaw-ki-GAY-nee]. The whole area includes an extraordinary amount of outdoor opportunities for the whole family: camping, biking, hiking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, natural water slides, picturesque waterfalls and more. After our tour of Kentuck Knob, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the park.

Natural water slides (upper view)

Where the water from the slides meets the main river

A kayaker practicing his skills in the river

A butterfly resting behind a rock

Nearby sign for Cucumber Falls

Cucumber Falls from the trail

Detail near the falls

Cucumber Falls up close from below

After Ohiopyle, we headed toward Ursina, where we had reservations at RiveRest Bed & Breakfast. It’s a lovely, comfortable Victorian owned by Carol Kemp and her husband David. A charming place to relax after touring the area, especially with its beautiful wrap around porch. My favorite item at breakfast the next morning was a fluffy and golden brown German apple pancake. Carol was even kind enough to provide the recipe. Delicious!

RiveRest Bed & Breakfast

RiveRest Bed & Breakfast (porch detail)

At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob

Last week, while visiting my family on the east coast, I spent two lovely days in the Laural Highlands of Pennsylvania. My main goal was a visit to Fallingwater, but while perusing its website I found that there was another Frank Lloyd Wright home in the area, called Kentuck Knob.

Kentuck Knob, otherwise known as the I.N. Hagan House, is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed deluxe Usonian home. It was completed in 1956 and is located about 7 miles from the Kaufmann’s Fallingwater. The Hagans, who were friends of the Kaufmanns, asked then 86 year-old Wright to design their full-time residence on 80 acres of property which included the summit of Kentuck Knob. It is constructed of tidewater red cypress, local sandstone, glass, and topped with a copper roof. The Hagans lived here for 30 years, until 1986, when they sold the property to Lord Peter Palumbo of London, England, who still owns it today. It was opened to the public in 1996.

Photos from the front

View of the main entrance, from underneath the carport

FLW “cherokee red” signature tile (see right of entrance, above)
Left of the entrance – window cutouts and overhang view

Dedication Plaque, underneath carport

Storage area attached to the carport, opposite of main entrance

Detail of overhead lighting

Lamp post at the foot of the drive


Photos from the back

Water feature, back patio view

Water feature, detail

Back patio entrance, open hexagon skylights

View of the back of the house, through the trees

Flagstone patio, detail

View from the scenic overlook, near the house

I made reservations to Kentuck Knob for our first day. I knew pretty much nothing about it (unlike Fallingwater), and despite its smaller size I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed. It’s no surprise that it turned out to be a lovely home, thoughtfully designed and in perfect harmony with its surrounding. It’s shape and materials are somewhat discreet, but the scalloped edging, artful window cutouts and the unique hexagon openings over the rear terrace give it an abundance of charming character.

Photos from the grounds (sculpture garden and other curiosities)

The cutest little white caterpillar on a description plaque near the trail

Sculpture (detail): Red Army (1991), Ray Smith (1945- )

Sculpture (detail): Inside of an old fashioned British phone booth

Sculpture: Finial from One, Poultry, London EC4, 1870

According to a nearby plaque, the finial above was the upperemost element of a building known as Number One, Poultry in the heart of the city of London. It was designed by Victorian Architect John Belcher Jr. in the Venetian-Gothic Style. Apparently the building was replaced in 1998 and the finial was shipped to the United States, first for the grounds of the Farnsworth House (designed by Professor Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois), but eventually transported to Kentuck Knob in 2003.

Sculpture: Berlin Wall Section (1961-1989) East German, Reinforced Concrete

Sculpture: Apple Core (1990) Claes Oldenburg (1929- )

Sculpture: Edwardian Post Box, circa 1902, London, England

At Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

fallingwater

Earlier this summer I sat down and wrote a list in my journal titled Things I’ve been meaning to do, but still haven’t… which included 16 goals that I wanted to accomplish some time during my life. This list included entries like “learn to ride a motorcycle,” “take guitar lessons,” “start my own business” and “visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.”

Last week I toured Fallingwater for the first time. I can’t even describe how excited I was. All the reading and architecture classes cannot compare to the real thing. It’s simply magnificent.

fallingwater

The week before, after a possible visit from my mom fell through, I decided on a whim to purchase a ticket to go see her (and my dad and sister) in Virginia instead. Growing up minutes from Washington, DC, I’ve seen the museums and monuments there hundreds of times. Then I remembered Fallingwater, and thanks to Google Maps, found out it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive from DC. Perfect.

From the visitor’s area, we walked the short 1/4 mile gravel trail to the home (during which I shivered with anicipatory goose bumps). Because my mom and dad, who are not very into arts or architecture, were with me this trip, I only purchased regular tour tickets, $16 per person, instead of the in-depth tour, $55 per person, that I would have liked to take. The in-depth is 2 hours and allows you to take indoor photos, which I was dying to do, but couldn’t. I choose the opening 10am tour thinking there would be fewer people, but now I realize the closing 5pm tour would have been better. By the time our tour was done and I could take outdoor photos, the place was not only swarming with tourists, but also with workmen, because it just so happens they were painting that week.

fallingwater

A little history: Fallingwater was designed in 1935 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann (who also commisioned the famous architect, Richard Neutra, to design his “Desert House” in Palm Springs). The retreat was to be built in Mill Run, Pennsylvania in view of a waterfall that was on the property. Instead of facing the house towards the falls, like one would expect, Wright decided to place the house daringly above the falls while also incorporating the natural surrounding directly into the design. Striking features include a boulder that was left in place near the hearth, windows (including frameless corners) that opened out into the surrounding forest, flagstone flooring, cantilevered terraces, and stairs that lead directly from the building into the stream below.

fallingwater

The house itself was smaller than I expected, but still incredible. The bedrooms were small with Wright’s tendency for low ceilings, with a large open living/dining room. Despite the many visitors, it was easy to feel how secluded and peaceful such a place would have been to the Kaufmann’s and their visitors, a stunning combination of visual, functional and structural harmony.

Our tour guide’s name was Emma, who knew quite a bit of information. Unfortunately she had the absolute worst sing-songy voice. It drove me so crazy that I had to quit listening after the first couple of stops. She also made the funny mistake of calling the Wright reproduction furniture in the film room “faux-pas” furniture (when I’m sure she simply meant “faux” furniture). And she said it with all seriousness, the same way she delivered the rest of the tour. I didn’t have the heart to correct her and I don’t think anyone else did either.

fallingwater

fallingwater

The other funny (and slightly embarrassing) moment came at the very end of the tour. Throughout both the Kentuck Knob (more about that later) and Fallingwater tours my Dad asked several thoughtful and interesting questions when the tour guides failed to cover something he was curious about, such as how much of the original acreage was still intact today (which turns out to be the complete original 5000 acres). Right as we were parting, my Dad turned to ask Emma, in all seriousness, “Do the employees get to hunt on the property after hours?” despite the fact that he knew the property was entrusted to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Um, sorry dad, no hunting allowed.

An Airline Nightmare

Thursday morning (Aug. 9th) aroung 9:30am David dropped me off at the Portland airport to catch my 11am US Airways flight to see my folks back in Virginia. It was supposed to be simple: Board in Portland, transfer in Pheonix, land in DC.

Yeah…right.

Instead, I arrived in Pheonix to find that my next flight was canceled due to mechanical problems and they were not going to replace the plane. Okay so now what? I was given the option to fly standby on the next flight to DC, so I waited and waited only to find out that flight was full. Then I waited standby for the next flight to Baltimore, (which was close enough to DC for me at that point), but it turned out to be full as well. By this time it was evening, I was exhausted, had a huge headache and had almost finished the book I had just started that morning. I was so frustrated!

the offending airline

One thing I found particularly curious…they offered free flight passes to people willing to bump on the full flights mentioned above, but not to the passengers like me who had no choice but to bump because our flight had been cancelled. That just doesn’t seem right.

When I went back to the line for customer service (again!), my new option was to take the 9pm flight to Chicago, suffer through a 4 hour layover until finally boarding a final flight to DC – or they’d put me up in a hotel and guarantee me a straight flight early the next morning. I chose the hotel (and they threw in a dinner voucher and a breakfast voucher for the next morning).

Let me just say that Pheonix is freaking hot. I waited outside in the shuttle area for almost an hour and had to call the hotel twice, because the shuttle was supposed to have come by twice in that time. I don’t think I have ever been so thankful for AC and a free bottle of water.

hotel crown plaza

The hotel, Crown Plaza, was better than I expected. I requested a non-smoking, quiet room and they gave me one with a king bed that overlooked the sparkling pool and which gave me the opportunity to shoot my first sunset over arizona through my hotel window.

phoenix sunset

By this time I was swimming in toiletries, not only from the amenities bag from the airline, but also from the hotel, most notably a lovely red organza bag with lavendar linen spray and an eyemask to accompany the provided relaxation cd. Not too shabby. Plus the room was well turned out, and some housekeeper had spent a marked amount of time making things just right – including folding the next tissue in the tissue box and the facial cloths into fan shapes. Talk about the little extra details!

details

The next morning I boarded the shuttle along with the loveliest french family and arrived with plenty of time to go through security and stop for breakfast. Then the flight began to board. And just when I thought to myself “finally!” there was an announcement to hold off boarding due to more mechanical problems. Can you imagine? Luckily, boarding continued within 20 minutes and I was finally on my way. I just can’t believe how trying it all was. I remember thinking, this must surely be a lesson in patience. And of course it had to happen during a flight where I was alone instead of with someone, like my husband, to help pass the time. Then it would have seemed much more like an adventure than a trial. The most important thing is that I fnally arrived in DC safely, but I will definitely think twice before ever flying US Airways again.

David and I, A Simpson’s Portrait

David & Emily

David simpsonized us the other day after taking two bad head-shots of us first thing in the morning. I was barely awake when he said “hold still” and stuck the camera in my face. It didn’t take too long to upload the photos, but despite the many options I don’t really feel that I look quite right. Part of it is the dress. Normally I don’t wear dresses, although I wore one very similar to this one last week for Marcy and Alex’s marriage at the courthouse. But I almost always wear V-necks and this was the only outfit that had one. I do wear a set of pearl earrings fairly often. David looks okay, but he doesn’t own a pair of black shorts and he’d wear flip-flops with that outfit instead. An interesting 20 minute diversion nonetheless.