Being Creative

Flower

I am hearing a lot (and reading about it too) – about how important creativity is to our mental well being and how it nourishes the soul.  I had not thought about creativity much because I kind of suck at being artistic. I have wickedly talented people in my family – my oldest brother is an amazing boat designer and builder (check out Brooks Boats), my mom is this renaissance woman – cellist, painter, creative gardener… (and that’s just the stuff I know about…if you know my mom this will make you smile) and my brother Phil is a super talented guitarist – he blows my mind with how he can make his 10 fingers all do something different yet together they create beautiful music.

I can shoot free throws with my eyes closed (yes they usually go in).  But I do love taking pictures.  All the pictures I have shared on this blog to date are mine.  Sometimes you are fortunate with location – Paris looks good no matter what.  But the picture above was taken on my porch.  With an iPhone.

I love that iPhones have allowed us to carry the possibility of creativeness with us every day.  I love Instagram and being inspired by the thousands of photographers out there and how we all see the world a little differently.

This Thursday I am attending Newspace Center for Photography’s inaugural Photo Jam – a combination of instagram, art gallery photo show and Top Chef like photo contest.  I can’t wait.  Let the creative in you shine!

Travel by book – even better travel by beer!

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Augustiner Bier Hall, Munich, Germany (photo taken during World Cup, 2006)

That whole book thing just opened up a Pandora’s box of opportunity.  And I don’t need any excuses to drink beer (they tried to make me go to rehab but I said no no no) – and only yesterday I was biking through beautiful hop fields in the Willamette Valley.    Beer is always on my mind.

I love books, food, beer, anything that captures a sense of place.

In Portland, there are two places that nail that sense of place beer-wise and German-wise – Stammtisch on SE 28th and their partner spot – Prost on NE Mississippi.  Prost is great and the concept of marrying German beer garden atmosphere with a cart food court is brilliant.  But Stammtisch just takes it one step further with the German food and dark wood paneling to match.

Stammtisch has rotating options for about 18 German beers and they always have one of my favorites – kolsch.  (Drinking kolsch in Cologne, Germany is a whole other post of true beer love) What makes these two places great and authentic is how they pour the beer.  Rinse appropriate glass with water – make initial pour – set beer aside for a few minutes to settle – then top it off and serve.

And with an order of sausage… teutonic heaven.

Sure you can drive over to John’s Market in Multnomah Village, and take a six pack home of any world beer imaginable, but I want to close my eyes and imagine I am back at the Augustiner waiting for a soccer game.

Travel by book

Santorini, Greece

Not ready to go to Myanmar for two years?  Not enough money to make that dream trip to Europe or SE Asia?

Thankfully there are books to fill the wanderlusting soul within you.  Travel books are a hobby (addiction) for me – books in general are one of the great joys (addictions) of my life. I am beginning to realize I won’t live long enough to read all the books I have in my bookshelves, on the floor, under the bed, in the basement, and the ones still in boxes from when I moved 13 years ago.  WTF??

But traveling by book is one way I fill my wanderlust.  And apparently others do the same.

There are online bookclubs (Around the world in 80 books on Goodreads) – people blog about it – http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com – I am not alone.

The point is, reading is a powerful way to travel and learn and has inspired me in a thousand ways.  After reading Lawrence Durrell’s “Reflections of a Marine Venus” I put Rhodes on my bucket list/list of 100.  I had no idea what the Camino was until I read Jack Hitt’s book.  And I have read many more books about the Camino – because if you can’t go – read!

My favorite travel books combine history, art, culture and atmosphere – when you read these books you want to sit with a sheepherder in Greece on a mountain and drink ouzo.  Or you want to smell the foods and hear the sounds of a street market in say… Myanmar.

If you want recommendations I am happy to help – if you have suggestions I would love to hear about them.  My particular niche is Greece – if you are going or want to travel by book – ping me and I can give you some great suggestions.  But I would love to hear yours… (FB that means you!)

Photographing Big Trees

This video and National Geographic story came out a few years ago – but I was reminded recently of the absolute grandeur of the redwoods and nature in general.  And this short video demonstrates that sometimes it takes a whole year to adequately capture what nature does every day.  People can sometimes disappoint – but nature never disappoints.

I think the man in the hat did something wrong…

Nightwatch

If you can name the movie where that line was uttered – you win a really cool snarky mug.  I love snarky.

So if you do know what movie that line came from – you will know it is one of the best movies ever made.  In the 80’s.  With an ensemble cast.

Ok enough clues.  You have to figure out the rest.

If you know the movie – cultural bonus points for you – but if you know the artist and painting – that means you are a culturally literate person or possibly an art history major – OR you have been to Amsterdam and been to the Rijksmuseum and know that this painting is one of the most viewed paintings in western Europe.

Which got me to wondering – what are the most viewed paintings in the world – Mona Lisa most certainly tops the list… but after that – do you know?  Who keeps track of this type of important info?  There is always an answer on the internet – but before we go there… “Studio audience was asked what are the top 10 paintings viewed in the world…survey says…”

Here are my guesses (I took Sistine Chapel out of this list because it is officially a fresco – but my guess is it would be #2 after Mona Lisa):

Mona Lisa – Da Vinci

Starry Night – Van Gogh

Lilies – Monet

girl with the pearl earring – Vermeer

Nightwatch – Rembrandt

Picnic painting at the Chicago Art Museum (can’t recall artist at this moment)

Self-portrait – Van Gogh

American Gothic (Grant Wood I think)

Guernica – Picasso

Birth of Venus – Botticelli

What paintings did I miss?

West with the Night

Birthday Girls

Last night – we said a sad but so-happy-for-you goodbye to our friends Steve and Stacie as they headed west into the night from Portland to Yangon, Myanmar.

Staring down at our feet without words…(oh look PDX carpet!) – knowing that for this one sad moment, there will be many stories and adventures that make the teary moments worth enduring.  And we count the days until we are sharing a beer and laughing over stories and memories.  Our very own Ithaka…

“Hope the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.”

(excerpt from Ithaka  by C.P. Cavafy)

“Love the Journey” my friend Kathy tells me – and I shall.

Steve and Stac – please love your journey.  Our hugs and tears a launching point to adventure…