Saturday, April 30, 2011

Anniversary the ninth.

We celebrate our anniversary the week before Mother's Day, usually in early May. Mother's Day was early this year, so our celebration happened in late April. We had dinner at Burgerville and took in a movie (Source Code) at the St. John's Twin Cinema. It was a lovely night.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shakespeare's Cymbeline

It is time for another quality production at the Northwest Classical Theatre Company. Don Adler directed Cymbeline, a Shakespeare play that when I read it, I found it lacking in a lot of elements, cliched in many acts and laughable in others, although this production made everything a-okay!
Before the show begins, Matt poses on stage. Behind him is a mural telling the story of Cymbeline.

"O, for a horse with wings" cries Imogen, impatient to see her Posthumus.

Because we've developed this relationship with the Northwest Classical Theater Company, it's fun to try and figure out how they are going to bring to life certain scenes. For instance, in this play, a character gets his head cut off--don't worry, he deserves it--and there is some dialogue where one character holds up the head and brandishes it about while discussing how he came to cut off the head. A theater of more means has more ability to hold up heads and brandish them about. They could, for instance, have a head made of silicon and hold it up. Or, the audience could be sitting far enough away that they could make a passable imitation of the head and no one would notice. But in this theater, when there is not really a "backstage" and the actors are never farther than eight feet from some part of the audience, how in the world would they brandish about a head?

I can tell you that they successfully did "cut off" a head and brandish it about and it was one of the funniest parts of the play. They also managed to consolidate an entire very bizarre scene where Jupiter (you know, the god) was to visit a sleeping Posthumus. Instead, they substituted Johnny Cash singing U2s song "One" while visions appeared on stage. With apologies to Shakespeare, it worked much better. Of course, the Bard didn't have access to Cash, Bono or the Edge, and was at a disadvantage. Overall, this was a delightful production and I'm happy that we discovered this company.

In this production Nathan Gale and David Burnett were funny in multiple roles, mainly that of Arviragus and Guiderius. I hope we see them again in future productions. Melissa Whitney was outstanding (as usual) as Imogen. The male "NWCTC members trio" of Butch Flowers, Tom Walton and Grant Turner brought great life to their roles of Pisanio, Posthumus and Iachimo. Rhianna Walton, though no Doll Tearsheet, was an excellent one-eyed soothsayer. Matt and I have run into Matthew Dieckman a few times over the past few months, as much as you can run into someone you recognize from a play. His Cloten was sufficiently "rotten" and I the image of his head being lofted about onstage will probably be a highlight of my theater memories for years to come.

After the play, we stayed for cupcakes and sang "Happy Birthday" to Shakespeare, who turned 422 that weekend.

Cymbeline closes May 15, and your next opportunity to take in this fabulous company is October 14, when they begin their 2011-2012 season with King John. I know where I will be going for my birthday this year.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Satellite Location

Last year I planted potatoes in Emilia's yard as a combo effort to get rid of all the overgrown grass and weeds. But this year Emilia's yard has a rain garden and an asparagus mound and where were my potatoes to grow?

Enter Stephanie North. I roomed with Stephanie North (she's one of those people who I just say both names all the time) during a summer in the 90s in Amherst, Massachusetts and we ran into each other a year ago. She had just bought a house in Cully and so we have been doing yard things in both of our yards. She mentioned that she wanted to get rid of the grass on the south side of her house and to put in berries, but the grass task seemed overwhelming. I told her about the easy (though long) way to get ride of grass that also gives delicious potatoes. We agreed to plant potatoes in her yard.

Here, we have made mounds and trenches.

A closer look at the trenches where the potatoes will be planted, along with the actual seed potatoes.

Another long view. We plant the potatoes in the trenches, then as the vines grow we will hill up the dirt around the vines, so what was trench will be come hill and what was hill will become trench. The grass will naturally get broken up as part of the hilling process and at the end of the season we will unbury the mounds to get the potatoes, which will leave us with (hopefully) a good crop of potatoes and a side yard free of grass.
That side yard can be planted with clover over the winter while it waits for spring and its new berry crops.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bike Ride to The Grotto

Matt and I rode to the grotto, killing two birds with one stone. We visited a Portland landmark I had not yet seen and we also got a good bike ride in. It was a sunny day (still cold, though) and that made both "birds" more enjoyable.

The fact that this statue is illuminated is pretty cool, given that there is a huge rock face directly behind it and a lot of massive trees on the top of the rock face. There is some careful pruning at work here.
I feel that this sign fails in it's job to inform and suggest because it assumes that people will know which stone is the alter stone. There were a few good candidates, but it wasn't obvious to me. I'm guessing that people who could correctly identify the alter stone probably know not to climb on it.

We bought the tokens for the elevator to the top level.
I find this sign to be more effective. Perhaps the "alter stone" sign could be amended with something like (the big one in the middle) to make it more clear.
It turns out that we could have just jumped the gate. We wouldn't, of course, but we could have.

Matt looking up the rock face, while waiting for the elevator.

This was probably the fanciest elevator I've been on in a long time. It talked to us, too.

Looking down from the top.

There were a few trilliums in bloom.

Matt was excited by the Polish shrine as he has Polish ancestors.

There is a fabulous labyrinth which we both walked and enjoyed. On a hot day, walking the labyrinth would be a good activity, as the trees and shade probably make for a cool, quiet retreat.

View over Portland

Best use of the word "perturbed" ever!

There are Douglas Fir trees everywhere in the Grotto. However, this is the only one to get the sign.

Back from the top, a picture of the place where they hold services.

On the way home, we stopped for lemonade, which was a very good deal, 50 cents for that huge cup of lemonade.

Our attempts to look holy. Matt is very good, I can't hold a holy expression for long.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Walnut Tree

There is a massive walnut tree in the neighbor's yard. On the one hand, I love it because it is a beautiful tree and the squirrel activity in the autumn keeps the cats entertained. On the other hand, it is a very large tree and it is one of the many contributors to the "structures that block the sunlight, thus reducing garden yields" problem.

So imagine my surprise today when I came home from work and discovered that the tree had been expertly and massively trimmed. (Pruned? I'm not sure of the word here.)
There used to be a massive limb encroaching on the lilac in Emilia's yard. Now the lilac is free to grow and bloom again.
I can't tell you how exciting this is!