the artist in residence, updated

A couple of months ago, I posted a photo of Quinland with this title and promised I’d come back to tell the story.

Once upon a time on a deep dark Sunday night, as I was reading the daily emailed school bulletin, I came across this little nugget:

Wilson Students’ Artwork on Exhibit

Three Wilson art students have artwork in the Heart of Portland exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, a showcase celebrating the visual and performing arts produced by PPS K-12 students. Congratulations to Quinland (Photography), Gina (Ceramics), and Emma (Drawing). The opening reception is Monday, April 4 from 6:30-8:30 pm. All PPS families and teachers are invited to attend the reception, which is free. The show runs April 4-16.

Monday, April 4th? Why, that was the very next day! I asked David if he knew anything about this; he did not. Q was already asleep, so I couldn’t ask him until the following morning. He was blasé about the whole thing:  Yes, he had a piece at the Portland Art Museum. No, he didn’t submit it; every art teacher in the district could choose one piece of art for the exhibit, and Mr. Carlson chose his landscape photo book. Yes, he was thinking of going to the reception that night; could I give him a ride?

GIVE HIM A RIDE?! OF COURSE! I’M GOING, TOO! I WOULDN’T MISS IT! THIS IS SO EXCITING! ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DRESS UP? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?  IT SURE IS A GOOD THING I READ THE BULLETIN!  AAAAAAHHHH!

(I suppose I shouldn’t really wonder why he felt no urgent need to tell me about it in advance.)

Here’s the story of the piece: All the students in Advanced Photography were assigned to a) make a book with b) text and c) photos, using knowledge they had gained in class. That was it; the kids could define that any way they wished. Quinland made an accordion book of six black-and-white landscape photographs which he printed and then – I am sure I am going to describe this badly, but bear with me – he covered the images with gum arabic and inked over them with a brayer. The gum arabic makes the light parts resist most of the ink, while the dark portions of the photo get darker. I think. That’s the general idea, anyway. It made each photo look antiqued.

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So here he is, in front of the glass case bearing his accordion book. Most artwork was hung, but since Q’s was very long (this shows only half the length) and two-sided (there were three panorama photos on each side), it got to be in a case, which I thought was cooler anyway. Q’s text was the longitude and latitude of the place each photo was taken: Wilson High School, the Hawthorne Bridge in Downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, the Grand Canal in Venice, and (dagnabit, I’m going to have to look up the exact details of the other two European locations when I get home, but I will edit this as soon as I do). Mr. Carlson was proud. Q was quietly proud. I was demonstrably proud.

David, sadly, could not be at the reception, as it was the very night that he and the kids from the India program were doing a presentation about the trip to the kids’ families and the school community. He was represented in spirit by the Free Tibet sweatshirt he brought Q from McLeod Ganj, the city in northern India that is home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. (This shirt is not to be confused with our friend Jon’s shirt, which reads, “Free Tibet with the purchase of another Tibet.”)

One more special treat about that night: Q’s friend (and my former Girl Scout) Emma was the one chosen for the Studio Art piece, so my friend Jennifer and I got to be excited Art Moms together! (We also went to Pastini’s afterward and ate my all-time-favorite Lemon Pudding Cake, so it was pretty much the best time ever.)

plan #20 – contemplate where I’m from

I consider myself a Portlander. I moved here 32 years ago and I’ve lived here for all but three of those years. I’ve had an affinity for this city since my dad moved here when I was 12 and we began to spend summers here. See, that’s how Portland sucks you in: you come during the wonderful, beautiful, warm summer months and decide to live here… but then you get to live here through the grey months, too. Luckily for me, I don’t mind the rain. I’ve seen what it’s like to live somewhere that does not have consistent moisture, and it’s not pretty.

My “hometown” is Huntington Beach, California. I was not technically born there, but I was brought from the hospital to a home in HB, so I think that counts. I lived there for twelve of my first 17 years:

  • HB from birth through preschool (at 4 different addresses);
  • moved away for kindergarten through 2nd grade (2 different addresses);
  • HB for 3rd grade (1 different address),
  • moved away for 4th and 5th (2 different addresses),
  • back to HB for 6th through high school graduation (2 different addresses).

Yeah, I’ve been around the block (and I’ve lived on most blocks, too). I also abbreviate Huntington Beach fairly often, a habit I picked up from years of frustration over scantron forms that never have enough boxes or bubbles to fill in a long city name or forms that say “City: _____________” where the lines are far too short to fit anything beyond eight letters. (Hmm… and what other city is eight letters long?! Coincidence?)

It’s blasphemous in many circles to say so, but I don ‘t find much of Huntington Beach very attractive. Yes, the old downtown area is surfer-cool and has tons of charm, but North Huntington Beach, where I lived, was largely a land of housing tracts enclosed by concrete-block walls with a school and park in the center of each one, the houses themselves a series of  cookie-cutter ranch models with a tree planted in the parking strip out front. At every other major intersection or so was a shopping center and/or gas station; the differences were fairly few. Was the market a Vons, Alpha Beta, or Lucky? Was the drugstore Sav-on’s, Thrifty, or an independent? Was the gas station Shell or Texaco or 76?

Believe me, it was not a bad place to grow up. It was flat, so we could ride bikes everywhere; there were plenty of amenities;  the schools were good; and our parish, St. Bonaventure, had an amazing carnival. What more could a kid want? It was just bland, or worse. There was a “moat” (a flood control channel) around my high school, a Naval Weapons Station at the end of my street, a large industrial park just around the corner. But I had good friends and good times and it was all I knew.

Of course, the proximity to the beach elevated its cachet immensely. I mean, this is Surf City we are talking about. Miles of gorgeous shoreline (only some of which is across from extensive oil fields); great surfing; warm, sunny days. I absolutely love the beach and I am sure I always will. It gets into your blood, and a windy stroll on a cold Oregon coast just doesn’t cut it, beautiful as it may be.

Lifeguard Tower 10

I spent hours and hours on the beach, rotating my towel to get a better tan, listening to the radio with friends, body surfing (I was not a surfer, though a few girls surfed), taking romantic walks on the sand with boys or hauling kids we babysat in and out of the water. It was a short bus ride to Bolsa Chica, or a transfer and a longer ride down to the pier. (Either way, you’d get off the bus at a Jack in the Box, strangely.) It was fantastic.

But still.  Still, this town that I spent the first third of my life in never got the grip on my heart that Portland did. I came up here and I knew. This was my city. That other place, the place I grew up, is an interesting place to visit, to drive around and see what’s changed. But I don’t love it. I don’t miss it. I don’t wish I were there.

(Okay, okay. Sometimes I wish I were just a short drive from the beach. That will probably never change.)

plan #19 – host a dinner party

Blue Apron

I just realized I have not written a single thing about Blue Apron since I started doing it this summer.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, Blue Apron is a company that sends you a refrigerated box filled with everything you need to cook two fabulous meals (including the farm-fresh, pre-portioned ingredients), as well as the recipes to go with them. Katie Bower had written a few sponsored blog posts about Blue Apron (how does one get sponsorships like that?! This is definitely not sponsored in any way…) but I hadn’t paid much attention because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO COOK. So there wasn’t much point, right?

Ah, but then she wrote a post about how Blue Apron’s recipes were so easy, even her husband could cook them.  That put a whole different spin on things. A non-cook could do this? Hmmm… Maybe I should give it a try. I signed up for the meals-for-four plan, where they send you two boxes a week, just to give it a try.

Oh. My. Gosh.

You guys, it was like going to cooking school. The recipe cards break down every single step so clearly (and you can go to their website or phone app to watch videos of the steps if you want more clarification). They even teach you how to time things so they come out together. Imagine that! Your main dish, side dish and salad course all ready at once?! For me, that would be a miracle. I mean, Lori + cooking = smoke alarm, most of the time, since the timing thing is soooooo hard for me.

But take away the stress of meal planning, the stress of shopping, the stress of not having skills, the stress of not knowing what to do when, and suddenly I am a whiz in the kitchen. You wouldn’t believe me now, with the chopping and the coordination and the making salad dressings from scratch. I am amazing.

Right this second I am on a Blue Apron hiatus as we actually got backed up on food because a) their portion sizes are generous, and b) we were getting the meals for four, and there are only three of us. (I planned one to be a next-day lunch for David.) Taking a break is no problem, either. I just go into the app and click “Skip This Delivery” and – bam! – it is skipped.

I was wishing I hadn’t skipped this week, though, when Q unexpectedly had three friends over (my little Hannah plus two newbies) and I invited them to stay for dinner. We didn’t have the ingredients for a proper meal in the house, but I knew we could make pasta, so I ran to get salad makings, some garlic bread, and something for dessert.

It wasn’t a fancy menu. What was cool, though, was that I made a separate vegetarian pasta sauce (complete with fresh sauteed veggies) from scratch.  Scratch, mind you. Because that’s how fancy I am. Pasta, two different sauces (meat and vegetarian), Caesar salad, and garlic bread, with pie and ice cream for dessert. We all ate our fill, everyone liked the food, and we hung out and swapped embarrassing childhood stories. I got tons of compliments from the kids about the food. It just made me happy to be able to serve a meal to strangers and friends and have it go well. The vast majority of my stories about entertaining end badly.

(To be completely honest, I did leave the garlic bread under the broiler a little too long, and I had to scrape off the burnt parts. But it was still good, and I was able to laugh at it. Just as I am laughing at myself now: I just fell asleep with my hands on the keyboard and typed “m” a thousand times. Apparently I need to get even more sleep! Good night!)

First #healthy #food delivery from Blue Apron. All locally grown. #learningtocook #chef #gettingmyeaton#supportsmallbusiness  by Jon Lee Clark / CC BY