Monday, August 29, 2011

{first glimpse of the sea}

Last week Tanner and I spent one of our days off walking along the misty, sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean. Being that he has spent his whole life on the east coast, he has never seen this particular rim of the continent. It was delightful to see his reactions to this wild and wonderful edge of the world.

The west coast is so different from beaches back home -- there is no sunny, hot sand to curl your toes in, to lay your beach towel upon and lie in the sun until you come home crispy. There are no children with sand buckets and shovels, nor couples lying under umbrellas with sunglasses and books to read. There are no white dunes and no piers that stretch into endless sea.
Instead, there are sheer, dark cliffs which plunge into wild ocean. There are dark, pebbled beaches where the water is frigid to the touch, and small, black stones that have been washed smooth by the ebb of the tide. There are mysterious formations of rock which litter the seaside, and misty, hazy clouds that hang over the mountains. There's a sharp, cool breeze and surfers keeping warm in tight neoprene suits as they face the churn of the whitecaps. It's a different kind of beautiful.

"What do you think of the Pacific Ocean?" I asked Tanner as we walked along the seaside, eating ice cream as our hair whipped crazily in the wind.
"It's biiiiiig," he whispered.

Friday, August 26, 2011

{pop, coke, or soda?}

Being that I have lived in four different geographic regions in my life (midwest, southwest, south, and northwest) I'm pretty fascinated by cultural differences. I feel like a strange hybrid, myself, with no particular regional accent or ties (my family is from everywhere!), but I think it endlessly interesting to pick out the differences in how people speak, act, and especially the colloquialisms they use.

Family reunions are entertaining for just this reason: I find it funny the way my Chicago cousin pronounces the word milk ("melk"); the way my New York cousin pronounces the words "Mary, merry and marry" three distinct ways; the way my Wisconsin family croons, "yah -- oh-kaaay!"; or the way my South Carolinian family sounds with their slow drawl.

Tanner is from the deep south, so when we first started dating, a lot of our phone conversations sounded a lot like this:
Me: "Ok, pronounce the word 'w-h-i-t-e."
Him: "Whaa-yt."
Me: "And what do you call it when it rains and the sun's shining?"
Him: "The Devil beating his wife."
Me: "How do you say s-a-l-m-o-n?"
Him: "Sal-man."
Me: "And p-e-n?"
Him: "Pin."
Me: "But then, how do you pronounce 'p-i-n'?"
Him: "Pin."
Me: "That's the same word, Tanner."
Him: "No, 'pin' and 'pin.' Totally different."

I thought it cute how he said funny things like "that dog just ain' gonna hunt", or "down the road a piece", or often, just "y'all" or "ma'am." Now that we're in the northwest, these differences are much more apparent. He's the easily recognized southerner in a region outside his own.

As we live here longer and longer, we're noticing little things that are quite different from the southern culture we both grew up with. Northern people are brusquer, timelier, need things done quick, fast, and in a hurry. There's no slow and friendly, "how's your family?" talk at the counter, but just an expectation to complete the encounter in a speedy fashion. "Southern Hospitality" is not a myth but a way of life in the south, and I'm finding that I took it for granted, and now I miss it.
I also find it interesting that I had a vision of a diverse and unique people in Portland, but it's immediate apparent to me that there's much less diversity in nationality and ethnicity -- at least in Oregon -- and that the uniqueness stems, instead, from people expressing themselves differently in their dress, appearance, and behavior. It's rather fascinating, and certainly leads to great people-watching. I'm not opposed to either way of life, but it certainly does take some getting used to if you've only known one way. I feel like I'm going through a bit of culture shock.

Back to the topic of colloquialisms, an interesting regional name that gets everyone heated up is the correct label for a carbonated beverage. Depending on where you live, it might be a "pop", "soda", or "coke." I have never been able to figure out where the dividing lines are between these regional subtleties: when I lived in Oklahoma I grew up calling it "pop", but once I moved to North Carolina I got odd looks when I called it such -- a pop was a punch in the face, not a soft drink. By the time I got used to calling it "soda", I moved to Oregon and it was back to "pop" again. Tanner, on the other hand, has been calling it "coke" his entire life.
In the end, I guess it's a good thing I don't drink the stuff.

I did stumble across a cool map the other day that puts to rest my confusion about regional boundaries. After research gleaned from across the US, a map of states and counties was compiled to show where each name was said the most frequently. If you click on the map you can click on each state and see it broken down by county. Interesting!

What "culture shock" moments have you had in your life?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

{chocolate fruit smoothie}

I've been making smoothies a lot lately. First, because they're delicious. Second, because I have lots of fresh fruit in the house due to my CSA food drops, and third, because Tanner will drink them, too.

This one is simple and yet delicious... don't be distracted by the strange color. Just imagine: it tastes like chocolate dipped strawberries. Promise.

{strawberry/ blueberry chocolate smoothie}

1 cup fresh frozen strawberries
1/2 cup fresh frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana
Lite chocolate soy milk (to desired consistency)
(Note: if you didn't freeze your fruit, you'll want to add ice cubes to make the smoothie cold)

Place everything in a blender and blend until creamy. The amount of soy milk you put in determines how watery/thick it will be. Feel free to add different fruits (blackberries are delicious, and yesterday I made one with overripe pluots, orange juice, and vanilla soy milk... yum.) Also, you can add a small amount of veggies to this without destroying the fruity taste, if you'd like more leafy greens in your diet.

I also highly recommend purchasing reusable smoothie cups with straws. These two were gifts (thanks, Mama Goodson!) and they always make smoothie time way more awesome. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

{mirror lake}

Tanner and I rarely have the day off together, and since I love hiking, that's generally what I do when I have the day to myself. Normally this means I'm hiking alone (though not really.... nice days bring out throngs of people to trailheads) but this time I met up with a nice couple who started the hike to Mirror Lake at the same time I did, and we ended up hiking four hours together. It amazing how much you can learn about a person in that much time, especially if your common interest is the outdoors. There's always something to rave about.

This particular hike, and the view from the top of Tom, Dick and Harry mountains is what kept us talking.

Friday, August 19, 2011

{camp wandawega}

Picture this: once upon a time, a newlywed couple purchased 25 acres of lakeshore property in the small town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The property was once a 1920s resort, owned by many people over the years, transformed from speakeasy to brothel to a Latvian resort run by Catholic priests.

The groom and his family had spent every summer there since he was born, and he had fond memories of the resort's lodge, cabins, tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, archery range, horseshoe pit, piers, and rope swing beside the lake. When the priests finally decided to sell the property, the newlyweds jumped at the opportunity.

What they received was a run-down, broken, tired resort that ached with age. What they transformed it into can only be described as an act of love. From vintage knickknacks, to classic canvas boy-scout tents, to renovated cabins, the newlyweds created a new resort from an aged memory.

What a beautiful life, to transform such a piece of history into something beautiful and new. I encourage you to read the entire story of {Camp Wandawega} through {The Lettered Cottage}. The story is told in parts throughout the week, so read about each piece in turn: the {day one background story}, the {day two storybook}, the {day three treehouse}, the {day four tent hill}, and the {day five wedding and nursery}.

Enjoy the tale. I know I have a new life ambition, now!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

{roasted green beans}

I was super excited to get green beans in my CSA drop this week because I have a delicious recipe for them. It's very simple and the result is a healthy snack that tastes just like french fries... especially if you dip them in ketchup. Yum!

{roasted green beans}

Toss green beans in a drizzle of olive oil until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay them out on a baking sheet.

Bake green beans at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes. The crispier they are, the more they taste like french fries, but be careful not to burn them!

I tested these out on Tanner who decided that they "taste nothing like french fries", but then again, he's bias against anything green and bean-like. Try them for yourself and see what you think. Personally, I think they're delish!

Friday, August 12, 2011

{spider meadows}

I've got a good way to wrap up the week... with a Darkroom entry! I know you've all been craving photos, so here's a small sampling of some of my favorites. It was a wonderful weekend of good outdoorsy time, and I've taken such a hiatus from backpacking lately that I've forgotten how much I enjoy it. The best views are always the ones you have to work the hardest to see.

We drove into Washington to find the perfect trail. After seven hours in the car (albeit, it was a beautiful drive) and some rather rough roads (to put it mildly. I felt like I should have been in a 4-wheeler commercial) we arrived at the trailhead and began our six hour hike into the heart of the Wenatchee Forest. After a few hours in dense tree cover, we emerged to find a beautiful meadow surrounded by towering mountains and waterfalls fed by snow runoff. It could have been the heart of the French Alps, and I might not have known the difference. The Appalachians I have known almost all my life, but these mountains were something else -- so magnificent that I was quite small in comparison. I felt like Thoreau in awe of Walden.

A few more hours beneath heavy packs led us over several river crossings (some more treacherous than others -- especially with the late-day snow melt swamping them) and straight into a snow basin -- where we spent the night. We were surrounded on all sides by mountains, feeling protected in the bowl of snow and rock that cradled us. Marmots whistled from the granite and the wind raged all night long, but we were so exhausted that we were sleeping by sunset.

The next morning we left our tents and gear in the basin and went on a day hike up the trail. The "short day hike" turned into a lengthy excursion, but was not lacking in beauty. The higher we climbed, the steeper the trail became, and the expanses were sweeping. But the trail was rough, littered with loose gravel, and we had to choose our footsteps carefully. Two of our companions turned back halfway, exhausted by the trying trail. My own heart rate monitor claimed I was at my peak, but I wanted to push onward. There were still sights to see.

At the top of the knob we paused to take in the view, catching our breath and struck silent in awe. Then, with wily grins, we plotted our next course of action. The only way on was up, and the only way up was through snow and ice. We strapped on our crampons, dug the tines into the white abyss, and climbed steadily higher. It took us almost two hours to reach the top, and a mere fifteen minutes to reach the bottom again. After taking in the absolutely stunning views -- I believe I started gasping, "is this real? Am I looking at a postcard?" -- we took the quickest route back to the start: on our butts. The quick, exhilarating glissade was more art than science, and when we returned back to camp we had frozen bums and flushed cheeks and stories to tell.

We earned our rest for the night and when morning came, we bundled up camp, once more strapped on our packs, and regretfully left our wonderland behind. Back to the real world again, leaving behind our journey into this beautiful fantasy. If only such escapes could be longer lived!

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