Thursday, December 25, 2008

Snowy Exploring

The next day, we're out and about exploring the town. Up to about a foot of snow has fallen and is now receding. Most businesses called off for the week, and everyone has decided to move by ski or sled. Hanmi tries getting used to the new cross-country skis, the dogs are having a blast, and the kids enjoy every short hill in town.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Walk

Hey all! Winter is comin' on strong here for the past week or so. It's been a mixture of snow, rain and lotsa wind. The city is moving slow and everyone is meeting in living rooms for big pot luck dinners and board games and music. Here's a short silent film of a walk to get some food.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks All

Well, after our trip East, I wanted to send a gracious Thank You to the whole family, for meeting up for a great party and wonderful food. I'd like to send a special Thank You to my Aunt Jeannine. Her enthusiasm and interest in my latest doings with her keen interest on how each step of my life has made me feel was heartwarming. I'm really glad to catch up with her and learn all about life in central PA, the latest with Steven and how her and Dan are joined at the hip from home to the office. Here in Oregon, we're drawn to the mountain places on our weekends, so we'll have to make a point to visit their mountain home on our next trip back east.

The trip was good - the doggies went along and were rock stars the whole time. We need to carry autographed B&W shots of them - so many people want to meet them.

As usual, my parents were gracious hosts to both us and the big gathering - we're always thankful to stay with them and spend time. While we no longer even try to beat Dad at pool any more, its nice to know he still pursues the APA masters league. The food was great, as Mom makes a great mix of things and everyone brings a interesting dish.

We also had a dinner with Dan & Jen at their home. The kids are adorable, playing and curious all the time. Dan is loud and proud, as we know him. I'm proud as well of everything he's achieved - seeming all at once (school, work, sports). I'm sure we'll connect up again soon.

We took the time to sit and talk with both Rose and Gmom, who has been feeling under the weather but seems to be back home and doing well. Rose's pasta lunch was yummy (the pumpkin martinis were great) - and we've made our own baked apples since returning, a new favorite dessert.

Lastly, I personally wanted to thank my Mom. Mom has been the grease to the wheels of the family for as long as I can remember. She keeps us in the loop when family news is rolling by, makes plans for our visits, and always keeps the food, drink and conversation ever-present and delightful. Over the years, Mom has seen Dan and I grow into unique adults (neither of which grew up on a farm!) but we've been able to each keep our family ties in the styles that fit us best. I'm very thankful for how its all worked out and for how accepting and loving she has been of all our choices, questionable or admirable, over the years. Mom is the first to defend our decisions and the most reluctant to deliver the "I told you so" after-comment. For this and so many other reasons, I must express my deep love and thankfulness for her care. We're truly blessed in having parents that have supported us so far and away from where we've started. Thanks so much!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Royce Butte Wildfire

Royce Butte Fire, originally uploaded by Hanmi.

Here is a set of images from the Royce Butte fire last month. When we drove around a bend in the highway we saw a small puff of white smoke... by the time we neared Crescent Lake Junction, it was a large white plume. A couple minutes after we pulled over it was a big, black, ominous cloud. In fact, when we slowed down to speak to a state trooper, I could feel the heat of the fire (though I couldn't see the flames) on my face. After I took a few shots we got back into the car, and stopped again at the top of the hill where I took a few more shots. The fire was clearly spreading very quickly. Pretty scary stuff. Click the image to see more.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Montague Balloon Fair

Montague Balloon Fair, originally uploaded by Hanmi.

More pics from my road trip with dad... The morning we were planning to head home was the first day of the Montague Balloon Fair just north of Mt. Shasta. This was good incentive to hit the road early, and about the only thing that could have gotten me up at 4am... We arrived before dawn and got rock star parking so dad could enjoy the show in comfort while I spent 2 1/2 hours wandering around taking pictures [and freezing my tookas]. Click the image to see more on my Flickr page!

Monday, September 29, 2008

How bad can it get?

If you've found yourself wondering, "what if" amidst all the hype and nonsense related to the upcoming election, here's one point of view...

I'm Voting Republican

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Road trip with Dad - day 1

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Mt. Shasta, California to visit a client [and now friend] to climb, learn to fly fish, take some pictures, and get to know each other. Originally Jim was going to come along, but his work schedule is tight and he had to bail. As Craig [my client] is a fly fishing guide, I started thinking my dad might really enjoy going with me. Sure enough, he was game and we took off on Tuesday.
The plan was to drive from Portland to Ashland the first day, with a detour to take us past Crater Lake. The drive ended up being much longer than planned, but our luck prevailed and we narrowly dodged the Royce Butte wildfire (the road was closed 5 minutes after we passed), falling trees, and a lightening storm on our side trip. We arrived safely in Ashland a couple hours later than planned, but had a great meal at the Black Sheep Pub [a discovery on last year's road trip with Jim], and topped it off with a Guinness float. Naturally, I took a lot of photos...
There will be more photos and details to come...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Climbing at Beacon Rock

Anna Climbing, photo by Hanmi.

Last weekend we took our neighbor climbing at our favorite local crag. She's been climbing indoors for a while at school, but has only climbed outside once or twice. You'd never know it based on how she attacked every route we put her on, though. She's definitely a natural, and I'm sure we'll be seeing her out on the rock a lot more in years to come. Nice work Anna!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jayzus it's hot!

Wow... as I type it's 100°F and climbing and the forecast is even hotter tomorrow... My home office feels more like a place to bake cookies than make photos. The chickens are miserable, standing around under the deck panting. I gave them some ice water and some frozen blueberries, but they still look very unhappy. And poor Delilah is molting... although, losing some feathers in this weather doesn't sound so bad. Chickens are notoriously grumpy when they are molting, and she's gone from the friendliest to down right mean. I tell her it will be over soon, but she looks at me incredulously, then tries to take a piece out of my hand. Poor girl.
I'm sure the tomatoes and peppers are enjoying this, though. The rest of us will just have to lay low [like in the basement...] and wait it out. And probably watch a lot of movies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LA Beach Trip

We were out of town this past week, enjoying the wonderful company of some old friends, and a few new ones, in Newport Beach, just south of Los Angeles, California. We attended the wedding Jeff and Nicole at a local boat "clubhouse" - really a very cool hotel and convention center along a marina. Their ceremony reminded us very much of our own, and their live singer and DJ were very cool indeed.

For the rest of the weekend, we visited some friends from up here in Oregon also traveling, another friend who recently re-located to LA [again] and hung out around the beach where we were staying. The beach was crowded but beautiful, clear and warm. We met a sea lion swimming by the pier, watched the surfing and ate some fish. Very fun!

Garden Box revisited

Well, its time to visit the newest garden box in the front yard. If you look back earlier, you'll see that this box was just built and filled this year. Through the miracle of photosynthesis and time, we're now on the cusp of a nice crop of Poblano Peppers.

As well as peppers, we've have Swiss Chard, Blue Lake Bush Beans and Snow Peas growing in the box, all planted in various phases so that we can harvest them in succession. This means that when the peppers are done, the peas will have more sun. As you can see, the bean plants are getting quite large. As we eat the chard the beans will get more sun to make more beans. Also, the shade the chard receives right now keeps it cooler in the sun, keeping it from bolting and extending the harvest.

It's been a fun little mini-garden to watch. Hanmi has been diligently removing the nasty bugs and giving a good watering every other morning or so. I think we'll create 1 new garden box each year and try different things. Today we saw someone growing corn in theirs! Last year's box is overflowing with pumpkins and soy beans. Yummy fun arrives in October.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Squamish Photos

Here are a few of my faves from our recent trip to Squamish BC. If you squint and cross your eyes a little you can almost see the cougar as it strolled past our tent. I have no idea why I was so shaky trying to take the shot...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Squamish, BC

Summer is perfect for climbing northward of us, especially when it's been dry for 6 weeks. So, with our dear friend Christine as our guide, we took a tip up to the town of Squamish, British Columbia in nearby Canada. It's a small but lovely logging and outdoor-tourism town that sits adjacent to some amazing granite monoliths.

Our trip was short by most standards, so we decided to hit a large adventure our first day our. With a team of three, we had to be mindful of the time out, but the peak was less important than simply all getting a chance to climb exciting rock. With that "The Ultimate Everything" delivers! All moderate grades and quite wild and bushy.

We began on a popular route on "The Apron" called Deidre, which was 5 pitches of wonderful low-angle slab and small cracks. We hit it early (about 7AM) and were the first team out. Eventually we saw more folks, but for such a popular climb it was nice to be climbing alone as a team.

Our team consisted of myself, my wife Hanmi and our friend Christine. Christine's been visiting Squamish for many summers, so we skipped the typical hunt-and-peck for the route starts. The base of many climbs is an exercise in finding an elusive trail or choosing the right path among too many. Also, the starts of the routes we hit were actually up the wall a bit, requiring us to scramble before beginning.

Once up above the traffic, the sky was a mixture of hot sun, cool breezes and hazy horizons. The weather is typically variable and occasional rain can be expected all summer long. Except for the shuffling of jackets and hat on or off, we were pretty comfortable all day.

Ultimate Everything is a link up from the top of The Apron to the top of the Chief, by way of a few trails and a ledge-access short pitch. After Deidre, we took Memorial Crack upwards, then hiked around a gully system to a bushy ledge to an obvious start. The pitches here were exhilarating and yet still moderate, in a word, wonderful!

We reached a ledge by 5PM and looked at the water/time/route options and decided to hit the bar. We didn't need to walk or rap down in the dark just to bag the peak, given that we still had 5 days of new rock to explore.

After a short tour through the Smoke Bluff crags and a day "resting up" bouldering, we were back to play on another route on the Apron: "Snake". This route was new for all of us, and involved some fun exposed climbing. There are a number of traverses, the crux pitch being a traverse where the climber can make use of a snake-like tree root running horizontally. It's great fun and worth a 1/2 day.

We made good time for a team of three, taking it easy and averaging about 1 hour per pitch, with lots of cheering and snacks along the way. I was most impressed with our abilities, given that we've not been pushing our climbing skills for a few weeks. Hanmi especially has progressed tremendously, as her abilities leading, following, building anchors and racking cleanly were great (though I'm not really one to judge).

Some more pictures from various spots on the wall...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The morning harvest

While puttering around in the garden yesterday morning, I couldn't help but notice how lovely the fruit & veggies & eggs looked when I set them down to attend a tomato plant... so I ran in and got the camera.

A full quart of blueberries, 4 eggs, and a half pound of beans... not bad for a 3500 sf. urban lot! I can't wait for tomato season!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Garden box o' leftovers [mostly]

On a hot summer day, we decided to build another planter box for the front yard. In our ever-growing need to expand our garden, we're always hunting around for nice designs that satisfy a few requirements:
  • Pleasant to look at
  • Pleasant to work with
  • Holds dirt, won't rot quickly
  • Good drainage
  • Above doggie pee height
  • Uses up some leftover building materials

It was a perfect day to take out the tools (table saw, miter saw, skill saw, drills and hardware) and use a bit more of our cedar woodpile. The rosewood stain and Trex decking make everything nice colors. The Trex top also makes a great bench, making a fun place to hang out while chatting with neighbors or just plucking weeds. We hope to have something popping up in about 3 weeks.

Hanmi came up with this design last year and it's held up well. The oil keeps it from rotting.

Here are some peechurs!

The staples can come out... they were a quick way to hold the end framing together prior to assembling the box. Also, the triangle braces for the Trex are the leftover miter cuts from the end frames. Overall we had very little waste.

Here you can see the original "prototype" for the planter on the left. It has been supplying us with lettuce, garlic, mustard & kale greens all spring. Next season crop is already on the way: pumpkins and soybeans! The only difference is the prototype was made with 3/4" plywood leftovers [the first box was made entirely of scraps].

Being fresh out of 3/4" ply, we got some 1"x6"x6' cedar fence boards and used those full length. The end panels were made with leftover 1/2 plywood framed with a leftover 2x6 that had been ripped in half.

words by Jim, photos by Hanmi

Monday, June 02, 2008

Another weekend at Smith Rock

Smith Rock is a wonderful place to adventure around. We've been there many times over the years. As we climb both new and old routes, with new and old friends, it keeps the air of magic about it. There's always a climb yet to discover, so we jump at the chance to walk along the walls and try something new. This past weekend was no exception.

Friday, we drove down with Gabriel and set up camp and relaxed with a beer. Saturday we climbed in the morning - some easer routes that everyone could have fun on - until the heat sent us down to visit the river. In the afternoon we met up with Claudine and Anwen, catching up along the way with a few other friends also spotted throughout the park. Then we romped over at the Phoenix area, climbing anything open. Everyone had a nice workout and we headed back before the angry skies opened. One remembers why climbing, anywhere, is such a great sport and past-time.

Hanging 'round the campfire. most of us with pants on...

Saturday evening consisted of a fire, a game of capture the flag (where is that thing?) and some delicious food. We took a short walk to Skull Rock, listened to the coyotes, and told many funny stories. I had to sew and small tear in my jeans from a clumsy fence hop (ever the nimble climber). Parties were all-around; someone (hey Chad!) brought a keg. Scout headed off the bed, the youngest climber in our group at 8 months old.

Zack explains how to climb with a newborn.

Tamar tells a story - Scout beams with pride. Jim sews pants.

Sunset over Skull Hollow Campground

Sunday was more climbing, getting everyone "good value" on a tough and exhilarating route - Smith is like that, being almost an outdoor gymnasium. Hanmi and Tamar had fun on Cinnamon Slab and Cry Baby, while we played on Lion's Jaw, Moonshine and Heinous, Ginger Snap, Easy Reader, Five Gallons and Light on the Path.

Tamar, Hanmi, Scout, Jim, & Gabriel mug for the camera

Alisha and Gabriel both seemed to get crash courses in cleaning and belaying. I'm happy to report that they didn't let anyone down. Great job! Gaby is visiting from Argentina for just two weeks and was especially adventurous in joining us, as well as helpful in helping to carry gear. Thanks for holding me up on that hard route, buddy!

Cinnamon Slab area at Smith Rock

We ate on Sunday night at Terrebonne Station, we were offered the "20-inch brown" - which I declined, not asking exactly what that meant. Hanmi was asked about a drink, the exchange went like this:

"I'll have a ginger ale."
"You say, a ginger ale?"
"Yes, please."
"Ok, you'd like a ginger ale?"
"Ok" [pause while he writes something on his pad]
.."we don't have ginger ale. Would you like something else?"

We all did a silent double-take.

But waiting tables is tough work, so I won't pick on our waiter too much. I am curious about what he wrote in that split second. Maybe something like "ginge..OOPS"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Climb like a girl!

In other news, climbing season is officially in full swing. We haven't been to the rock gym since April, and Jim and I are both proudly sporting the battle scars of climbing on real rock. I look a bit like a kid who's just started to run - my knees and shins are all bruised and scabbed from my recent ascents/attempts of several climbs featuring burly roof problems.

Historically, roof climbs were the source of much angst for me. Jim loves them, and being that when he has a reach of close to 8 feet, rarely finds himself unable to reach a hold. I, on the other hand, can reach about 6 1/2 feet, which often leaves me "short" [pun intended]. As such, I have to figure out another way to get through the crux, often making several more energy burning moves along the way. On hard climbs [5.10+ and up for me] I find that I pretty much get one shot to pull the move and if I hesitate or get the sequence wrong, I'm done - subsequent attempts, even after hang dogging and resting my arms are completely futile.

But I have been successful lately on some pretty spicy routes, and that seems to be feeding a new passion for the once dreaded roof climb. I am especially a fan of routes that require at least as much finesse and technique as they do brawn to get through. Sometimes my small stature proves to be an advantage as I can walk my feet way up so that I'm pretty much crouching under the roof, rest, then lean out or over and stand up to reach the next hold. This is far less strenuous than just trying to grab the next hand hold and pull myself over with just my arms, not to mention the fact that I often cannot reach the "next" hold. The best part is that occasionally it will get me through something that will shut down climbers much taller and stronger than myself. Those moments, combined with the huge confidence boost in my climbing ability combine to form the candy that keeps me coming back for more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

First Harvest of the Season!

We enjoyed our first harvest from this year's garden last week. The planter box in our front yard was planted with wild mustard greens, wild kale, and wild lettuce seeds back in February when it seemed the last frost had passed. The long, cold winter made the seedlings grow very slowly, until the recent spikes in temperature we've experienced here in Portland. The temperature neared 100° F less than two weeks ago, then dipped back in to the 50's this past week. But the brief warm spell made the mustard and kale grow like crazy and we were able to harvest enough to make a nice sized batch of braised greens for the two of us. Unfortunately, we had another unseasonably hot day this weekend, and now two of the mustard plants have bolted... It has been delightful, however, to watch them grow into such a lush and delicious bounty. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy the mustard for a few more weeks before they all go to seed. I am hoping next week we'll be able to get our first salad from the garden.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stop junk mail and save some trees

I hate junk mail. It seems to come from everywhere. Whether you buy something online, register a business, buy a house, or even buy someone a gift (!), chances are good you (and the recipient of the gift!!) will end up on a mailing list (or 10). By far the most effective way I've found to get rid of postal junk mail has been to sign up with Not only do they contact all the mass mailing houses, they also allow you to sign up for removal from specific catalogs and register everyone in your household. In fact, I've gone one step further and registered a couple folks who haven't lived here for years, but in whose name junk mail continues to be delivered. As new catalogs appear, I go online and update our account and everything gets taken care of. It's been about 18 months since we first signed up and it's working like a charm. In addition to reducing the number of trees that turn into junkmail, Green Dimes will also plant trees on behalf of everyone who signs up. This is one instance when convenience aligns perfectly with doing something great for the environment.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring Thing 2008

Almost every year, many of the climbers of the Northwest travel down to Smith Rock State Park in Oregon and perform a full day of trail maintenance. More than a simple litter pickup or tree planting (although we do that too), this is back-breaking work to construct safer trails on the steep slopes of the park.

Given the delicate desert landscape, having trails is a good way to join both the community and the climber crowd together to promote the park. This little park is a jewel of geological history and of course - it has awesome climbing routes.

The work parties started at 8 on Saturday and spread out across the park, each under a lead that directed the action. The supplies are carted or trucked to the edge of the park or area, but the majority of the work is bucket-brigade or simply walking with a heavy rock, putting it in place, then getting another.

But when the day progresses, finally wrapping up in the early afternoon (the hot afternoons shut everything down), the trails look amazingly new. These events are a great way to meet new climbers and catch up with old friends.

Also, the bolts that have gotten notices about being ready for replacement are all checked and replaced. This is especially reassuring, as the rock qualities at Smith are touch on any fixed gear, due to the high thermal expansion cycles of the desert and the rock actually being a "welded tuft", a form of petrified volcanic ash.

These pictures aren't a great way to capture Smith's expansive vista, especially from the top, where the majority of central Oregon's lower Cascade mountains are visible across a green blanket of farms and small towns. I believe Oregon to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, but you'll just have to take my word for it. No picture would suffice.

Smith Rock is located centrally in Oregon, not far from the larger town of Bend. It gained popularity in the 1980's as "this birthplace of American Sport climbing", which is to say, some local climbers cleaned the loose rock , bolted the walls into very tough routes, and invited the world to try the climbing. The entire process was bumpy in a few ways, including getting a community used to a new tourism feed in their area, and getting a climbing world used to a few "new school" techniques of putting a climbing route on a wall without always starting from the ground each time.

Many times, routes were so difficult that they demanded a series of "practice sessions" of small sections until they could all be linked up into a single, highly gymnastic sequence. This was new to the world of climbing, where a more mountaineering atmosphere was the norm ever since "traditional climbing" broke into a sport of its own decades prior. During the 1980's, "sport climbing" sought to create or find routes that didn't achieve a goal height, attain a peak, or adhere to a crack-based, naturally protected route. Instead, stone anchors were drilled into the wall and thus every face, however devoid of features, become yet another "project". When records for difficulty appeared at Smith (5.14b), it finally attained status world-wide as a place to visit on every climber's list.

We climbed later that day, in the shadier areas, then met up again that night for a party of beer and burritos. A slideshow, a few movies of some outrageous climbing from around the world (shown by attendees of the party) and the highlight of the evening, an auction and raffle of some great donated gear. This year, a huge amount of gear seemed to appear from some new sponsors.

We're very happy and thankful to get an opportunity to join in with our friends and help make a park a bit prettier and a lot safer for everyone to enjoy. I recommend anyone who has time to visit that park, and a few others, here in Oregon. And if you can find a way, throw some donated labor into your community. It feels great.