Sunday, March 31, 2013

Monday Listicles: kissing all over the world

And no, it doesn't mean parts of my body--get your mind out of the gutter! Stasha at Monday Listicles has us thinking about romance..."10 places you've kissed" is the theme for this week's listicle.

So here goes--here are 10 places I've kissed and been kissed by my romantic husband!

Dohtombori Bridge, Osaka
1. Our mutual friend Cath's apartment in Wakayama, Japan (at the raucous Robert Burns party, the night we met)--although it was just a kiss on the cheek and totally the time...

2. My apartment in Wakayama, three months later, at a party we hosted and where I saw Mike again (and boy did we kiss...on the dance floor, constantly and incessantly on a moonlit walk, and so on, especially in the next three years!)

In our fancy tailored clothes,
 Hong Kong, 1987
3. Dohtombori Bridge, Osaka, one month later again, when we made out for all to see (NOT done in Japan in 1987!!)--I'm sure we shocked everyone around us!

4. Hong Kong and Macau, summer 1987

5. Portland, Oregon, summer 1988 (when Mike came to visit Oregon for the first time)

6. Malaysia and Singapore, Christmas 1988

7. Udaipur, India, 1989 (where we got engaged)

8. Delhi, India, 1989 (having to say goodbye to each other for four months was excruciating, not helped by the hostile Indian policeman who forced us apart at the airport!)

Osaka, 1989
9. Portland International Airport, January 1990 (reunited after four long months apart, and it could have been longer thanks to the horrible INS agent in Minneapolis, MN--another story altogether!)

10. Every day in Portland, Oregon, and everywhere we go, for the past 26 years and 2 months!

I'm so glad I married a warm, affectionate man, who still kisses me daily.

If you're interested in learning more about these adventures, follow my "Oh, the Places You'll Go" blogging in the month of April. I'm taking the A to Z Blogging Challenge, promising to post each day.

Read about more kissing, if you like, on the other Monday Listicles blogs.

A to Z Challenge: Oh, the places you'll go!

For the first time ever, I'm participating in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge. We are encouraged to choose a theme to make it easier, and also make our posts more interesting, so I have chosen:

Oh, the places you'll go!

I didn't get on an airplane until I was 20 years old and flew to the Bay Area with college friends to visit another friend. Even though my family had traveled extensively through the United States by car and camping, the only time I'd ever been outside the country was to see Niagara Falls (the Canadian side) when I was 16.

At the airport, getting ready to board the plane
 (my travel buddy, Debbie, is in the red skirt)
When I was younger, my parents considered taking our family overseas to live for a few years, and my sister and brother and I protested vociferously. (I can't believe my parents let us sway their decision. What an experience that would have been!) They had lived in Germany before I was born and traveled throughout Europe...but from the time my mom got pregnant with me (1964) through 1988, they did not travel overseas either. Airfare was expensive, and we didn't have a lot of disposable income when I was younger. Camping and car trips were much more affordable.
Getting ready for my adventure!

At the age of 21 after I graduated from college, I got on a plane and flew to Japan, where I ended up living for three years. I had only one month to prepare for my first year abroad, and I did not speak a word of Japanese. Fortunately I convinced my college roommate and friend Debbie to come along. I'm so grateful that we could take that adventure together--getting from Tokyo to Osaka the first night would have been terrifying and traumatic if I had been alone. In the next month you'll see photos of Debbie and other adventurous friends.

When I met another travel bug in Japan, my British husband, I found a compatible and fun traveling companion to last me for life! During the three years we lived in Japan, and for a few months after we left, I was able to visit many Asian countries. I'm glad I got to travel so much before having children, as now we are not able to travel abroad nearly as often as I would like.

My blogging challenge will focus on the places I've traveled to outside of the United States. Each day (with the exception of Sundays), I will take you through different destinations from A to Z. I hope you enjoy the journey!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food cart adventures: Sindbad Halal

I was planning to try out the next food cart in the pod, Hog and Hen: an Acadian Kitchen, but they were closed today, with no sign posted. Strange. Seems that I'm determined not to be able to try that one out.
So on I went to the next cart: it doesn't have a sign, but the man in the cart said they are called "Sindbad." (You can see the name in very small print amidst the menu items.)
I wanted the chicken tikka kebab with rice, but he said he was out (it was almost 2:00 by the time I went out to get lunch...conference calls!), so I had the chicken shwarma instead. Barbecued chicken and lettuce in pita bread, with a yummy yogurt sauce...with a few fries, heavily sprinkled with paprika. For $7, it was not enough for two lunches and heavy on the bread. It was tasty enough, though! I do like chicken shwarma.
I liked the food, but not as much as the last few new food carts I've tried (Tandoor's Saffron Indian Kitchen and Nong's Khao Man Gai). I gather that this food cart is less sophisticated than some of the distinct sign, no mention on the Internet anywhere, etc...or maybe it's new. Who knows?

My verdict: I'll refrequent it if I'm in the mood for schwarma but onward I go to continue my adventures!

My chicken schwarma

Pope washes the feet of a WOMAN!

Shocking news from Rome today.

The pope has always washed feet on Holy Thursday, just as priests do the world over.

Today, for the first time ever, the Pope washed (and kissed!) the foot of a woman--in fact two. One of them was even a Muslim prisoner.

I'm curious to hear what the diehard conservative Catholics are going to do about this. The Catholic clergy wash the feet of men because they believe that all of Jesus' disciples were men. To wash and kiss the feet of a woman is simply shocking, radical. What will the traditionalists do? Diss a sitting pope, who is infallible?

Beyond this radical act, he also urged Catholics to "go out to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord.”

It's not the first time that Pope Francis has washed and kissed the feet of women--he has already done so in jails, hospitals, and old people's homes, including pregnant mothers and AIDS patients.

I know that the Catholic church is not going to be ordaining women anytime soon, much less supporting gay marriage, but this is an amazing step forward for the church.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Monday Listicles: Ten things about spring

Monday Listicles is sponsored by Stasha at The Good Life. Join the fun!

When I was in sixth grade in Miss Knerr's classroom, my friend Colleen and I won first place in a poetry recitation contest, and we recited a fun poem about spring. It took me a bit of Internet research to find it, but I finally did. We alternated saying each line--and we rocked the poem.  I love spring!

“Spring” by Karla Kuskin
I’m shouting
I’m singing
I’m swinging through trees
I’m winging skyhigh
With the buzzing black bees.
I’m the sun
I’m the moon
I’m the dew on the rose.
I’m a rabbit
Whose habit
Is twitching his nose.
I’m lively
I’m lovely
I’m kicking my heels.
I’m crying “Come Dance”
To the fresh water eels.
I’m racing through meadows
Without any coat
I’m a gamboling lamb
I’m a light leaping goat
I’m a bud
I’m a bloom
I’m a dove on the wing.
I’m running on rooftops
And welcoming spring!
This week's topic: Ten things spring

Celebrating the big 5-0
 at the Old Spaghetti Factory
1. Family birthdays: My husband's is in March (this year was the big 5-0!), and middle son Kieran's, my dad's, and my mother-in-law's are coming up in April. 

One Easter--I must have been
around 10 (in our new dresses)

2. Lent and Easter: Growing up as a Lutheran, we have always celebrated Lent and Easter. My mom used to make me a new dress and I'd get new shoes for Easter every year. My boys are not quite so enamored of dressing up for Easter, so that tradition has pretty much died out! I'm lucky if I can get them to dress up slightly.

Last year with Mom and Nadine, Mother's Day
3. Mother's Day:
My favorite thing about Mother's Day weekend is spending quality time with my mom and sister, which we try to squeeze in over the weekend! Living with all these men, I greatly value my estrogen-charged moments!

Kieran (3) and Chris in 2006 (10) at the market

4. Farmers market:
It's that time of the year! Our family loves going to the Portland Farmers Market in the Portland State University area on Saturday mornings in spring, summer, and fall. The market opened last weekend, but we haven't had a chance to go yet.

Visiting our friends in Boise last year

5. Spring break:
Spring break is this week for our kids, and for the first time in years, we have nothing planned. I am saving up my vacation time for my next surgery in June and also for the summer, plus my mother-in-law is visiting from the UK. Kieran is much distressed that we are not going anywhere! Last year we went to Boise, Idaho, and in previous years we've gone to the beach, Seattle, and Victoria BC

6. Blossoms!

After I mentioned my love for daphne and my poor-performing daphne plant on the smelly listicles a few weeks ago, I happened to notice that my daphne plant was heavily flowering this year! I picked a few sprigs and put them around the house...and they fill the whole room with their fragrance. I need to go pick a few more to replenish the vases. Love that smell!

7. Rain:
It can't be helped...if we want green, we have to put up with a little rain. Fortunately, it also produces one of my favorite smells! I don't mind the rain too much (usually), because it makes me appreciate the sun more when it arrives! And as we all know, we need rain for a rainbow.

At "Into the Woods" with friends Myla and Ari,
 this spring break they are visiting Portland!
8. More theater!
Last year at music camp
First our oldest son performed in Jesuit's spring musical, "Curtains" (or technically an end-of-winter musical), on Mike's birthday we went to see "The Whipping Man," last night I took the kids to see "Into the Woods" at Northwest Children's Theater, and next up will be Kieran performing in Northwest Children's Theater's Kids Company Northwest show, "Hillbilly Heaven." The show will be on the mainstage on his actual birthday, and he's excited about that...he'll be doing his favorite things (acting/singing/dancing) on his birthday, with his friends there to watch.

9. Music camp:
For the past few years (with one exception when it coincided with Easter), I've been going to Northwest Women's Music Celebration with my mom and friend Lois at the end of April...and this year is no exception! Can't wait!

Vacationing together at the beach in summer 2011
10. Vacation planning:
We are trying to plan a vacation for August with my sister and her family...we've been thinking about Kauai but are being scared off by the exorbitant airfare (for five!!) and wondering if we can find a less-expensive option...California? It's much harder to justify Hawaiian trips while we are paying an arm and a leg for private high school tuition. At any rate, as much as planning vacations can be stressful, I do like having something to look forward to. After I'm mostly done with the planning, I can spend the next few months anticipating my vacation...which is second best to actually taking it!! Wherever we end up going, I know all six boys will have a good time together!

Check out the other blogs posted on Monday Listicles for more things spring!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Whipping Man

This afternoon Mike and I saw "The Whipping Man" at Portland Center Stage. We had planned to see it a few Sundays ago but postponed it until today, his 50th birthday. It wasn't exactly the most uplifting theater choice for  a birthday, but no question about it: the play was an excellent, gripping drama.

It's the story of former slaves, Simon and John, and a confederate soldier (and their former master) Caleb, who all end up in Caleb's antebellum home, stripped of its former glory. The Civil War has just ended, and none of the men know what their future holds. The additional twist is that all three of them are Jewish. I was not aware of the fact that the confederate south was a more accepting place for Jews than the north, and more than 10,000 Jews fought for the confederacy. This article says more about the Jewish history of the south.

As the men unfold the secrets that bind them together, they also face serious questions about their faith in God and in humanity. It was a serious, heavy play with moments of levity. Gavin Gregory, who played Simon (the older, wiser former slave), was excellent as always and truly shone in his role. Previously we had seen him in "Ragtime" and "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." In a play with just three actors, the weight is heavy on each man's shoulders, and none disappointed. Carter Hudson was the deeply conflicted, traumatized soldier, and Christopher Livingston played the troubled and morally ambiguous John.

Typically when we attend weekday matinees, we are the youngest in the theater, but not today--the theater was full of two busloads of teenagers. Most of the kids were really well behaved, but a few of them sitting behind us were not particularly quiet. That was the only thing that marred the performance today for me...whispering, tittering, and kicking the back of my seat. Usually it wouldn't have bothered me so much, but in the case of such a serious, dramatic production, it did mar my engagement a bit.

This video gives you a glimpse of the power in the play. If you can, go see it! It will stick with you--I promise!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

10 reasons the birthday boy is awesome

Yes, can you believe it? The week my honey turns the big 5-0, this is the Monday Listicles topic of the week:

10 reasons my partner is awesome!

The young couple (Osaka, around 1988)
If you know Mike, you are aware that he loves to be the center of attention!

Before I met Mike in Japan, I had seen a counselor when I was in college. My college boyfriend--who had broken up with me--expressed interest in reconciling, and I was confused. My counselor asked me to make a list of the characteristics I was looking for in a man. Several years after I married Mike, I found that list again...and was amazed that he possessed every one of those characteristics...down to the fine details of spirituality, similar political beliefs and moral values, close to his family, sense of travel and adventure, and a great singing voice! The bottom line of that list--and why I decided not to reconcile with my college boyfriend--was SELF-CONFIDENCE. A person with true, healthy self-confidence doesn't need to make other people feel "less than"...and self-confidence supported many of the other characteristics. I also knew that I wanted a man who appreciated a strong woman--those are extremely hard to find! I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met him at the young age of 22, and I can't imagine a more perfect partner in life for me.

So here are just 10 of the reasons why he is so awesome:
My handsome groom at our wedding in 1990

1. He is truly kind and compassionate (even though he likes to pretend that he is a snob!) the elderly, homeless, underprivileged, and children. In spite of attending a posh British boarding school and being raised with an au pair, he is a true man of the people.

2. He has an outstanding wit and ability to be silly. The first time I met him, he read a funny, obscene Robert Burns poem.

3. He is extremely intelligent and wise. I have improved my vocabulary just by knowing him. He broadens my mind.

Mike with a young Chris and his Aunty Gena
 (he has always been so dedicated to his family)
4. He loves his family, community, and friends with an open, genuine heart, and expresses his affection freely. He is also an amazing dad!

5. He is upbeat, outgoing, gregarious, and social, even though he's actually an introvert (defined as needing to recharge on his own, which is why it works for him to be a stay-at-home dad).

Mike with the boys during "Banned Books Week"
6. He has a lovely English accent. I never get tired of listening to him!

7. He is a talented writer who will be famous one day, I'm sure of it! When I read his writing, I am delighted by his creativity and imagination. I prefer to stick with nonfiction myself! I don't know how he comes up with all of his ideas.

8. He is deeply spiritual and cares about social justice and equality for all of the world's inhabitants.

9. He loves to travel and explore new places and ideas. What better place to meet a fellow adventurer but in a foreign land?

Digging into birthday cake
 with his sister and sister-in-law
10. He brings joy and love to my life every day. Before we got married, we spent 3 months traveling through Asia together (and got engaged in India). If one can survive 24 hours/day with someone for 3 months and rarely squabble or tire of each other, you're set. In the past 26 years, I have never gotten tired of spending time with him.

Mike turns 50 on Thursday, March 21, and he also LOVES birthdays. So we are celebrating his birth week in a big way. His mum and sister-in-law arrived from Cambridge, England, last Thursday, and on Friday night our sister-in-law from Australia flew up from California on Friday to take us all out for dinner to celebrate. I am delighted to be able to honor my amazing husband in Monday Listicles this week. I cannot believe I got so lucky to find him in Japan and marry him!

I love you, sweetheart! Here's wishing the very best in the next 50 years of your life.

Monday Listicles is brought to us by Stasha at The Good Life. Click the link to read more!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Food cart adventures: Dosirak

Before I prodded myself to branch out and try some new food carts, most of the time I would go to was my standby, my local, because the owners know me well and I have a "usual" there. All I need to do is walk up to the cart, and the friendly female half of the couple says "the usual--half brown rice? Yep?" It's like having a Cheers in the middle of the food cart pod...reminscent of our beloved Shanghai Noble House, a family-run Chinese restaurant in Portland (with admittedly mediocre food, but speedy service) where they all knew our whole family, watched our kids grow up, and would always give us extras each time we went in. (Sadly, that restaurant closed last year.)
Chicken Chili-rejected Hog and Hen

Today I was going to continue my methodical efforts of trying each food cart in a row, but hit a wall with the first two. Hog and Hen, an Acadian kitchen, only offers two entrees a day, and today's choices were chicken chili and jalapeno macaroni and cheese. I like mac and cheese but opt for healthier options for lunch...and recently I've noticed that I get a stomachache whenever I eat beans...even white beans (which are my favorite, and were in the chili). In an effort to avoid stomach issues, I decided to skip that one today and return another time. (When I started these adventures, I told myself that I would skip a cart if I couldn't find anything appealing.) The reviews are great, so I will go back.

Boarded-up nameless BBQ cart
The next cart was boarded up--they must have been running behind because while I was waiting for my food they finally opened. It's some kind of smoker/barbecue joint, but I couldn't see the name clearly while it was boarded up. Stay tuned for more on that one.

So it was back to my beloved Dosirak--they are the next cart in the line. They have a simple menu--serving teriyaki charbroiled chicken on a bed of rice (they are one of the few carts to offer brown rice!), with "mandoo" (Korean term for dumplings, or as they say in Japan and our family, gyoza) and salad with a delicious miso dressing. Not only is the food delicious, but it's also enough for two days--for $7, that's a great deal! Some might find the teriyaki sauce to be a bit sweet, but I like it.

It really does help, too, that the couple who run Dosirak are incredibly sweet and friendly...not just to me! They take a month each year to go visit Korea, and I know I'm not the only patron who misses their food.

My Dosirak lunch
I always look forward to my Dosirak leftovers the next day! Yum!!

My verdict: Of course, I'll be back.

Happy birthday, sweet Caley!

Working together--a photo from a group leader retreat in 1997--
Caley's in front middle (in blue),
I'm on the far right, second row, and that little baby is Chris!
Having lunch at Marco's with our hubbies
Today is the birthday of my wonderful friend of many years, Caley. (Notice how I didn't write "old," because she is in fact younger than me!). I first met Caley when I hired her back in the 1990s...I can't remember the exact year, but I remember that her cover letter struck me as the best-written cover letter I'd ever read. I've searched my files, but I must have recycled it! Drat!

When I interviewed Caley, I liked her immediately. Two things impressed me about her early on, about her ability to take risks: (1) she legally changed her name from Martha to Caley, just because she liked the name, and (2) early in their marriage she and her husband Mark jumped in a car and drove west without having ever visited here...because they saw Oregon on a TV show. They MOVED here without knowing what they were doing or if they would like it.

Book group holiday exchange, 2011
February 2011
She was the Technical Publications group leader in our Portland office for several years, and I loved working with her. She quickly developed highly loyal clients who valued her immensely...often clients who I personally didn't care for! She also led the group through a massive Title V air permitting project, which required several editors and document processing staff working long hours and weekends under severe stress. She was a master of organization in addition to being an excellent writer.

New HP addict with a light-up wand
I remember when she told me that she was thinking of leaving the firm, and I somehow convinced her to stay on part-time, at least for awhile. I couldn't let her go so easily! Well, finally she did leave the firm back in the late '90s when she started popping out baby girls.

Holiday book exchange, 2012
Over the years we've stayed in touch, but sometimes sporadically as we both got very busy with our young families. Caley is similar to me and Mike in that she loves celebrating birthdays! I remember attending one birthday party at a tea house in Sherwood--a ladies' tea party--and celebrating her 40th with many of her other girlfriends at a restaurant in Lake Oswego. She is also a gifted musician and loves books and the Sylvia Beach Hotel like I do!

In the past five or six years, we rededicated ourselves into getting together more often, as we have always been drawn to each other. Although we are different in many ways, we share the same values and positive, spiritual outlook on life. Even though she has three girls and I have three boys, we have similar views on parenting as well.

Celebrating a birthday at book group,
with her coworker/friend Nicola
(Caley makes friends everywhere she goes!)
All of our six kids hanging out at the beach
Mark and Caley dancing at the Governor Hotel
Caley and I have seen each other through many heartbreaks and difficulties over the years--Christopher's extreme prematurity and NICU stay, infertility for both of us, Mark's brain tumor, parenting challenges, and recently my own health problems, among others. When Mark was receiving treatment for his brain tumor (stress that would have toppled most people), Caley held her family together, not only managing the household and activities of her three children, but doing all the driving and all other activities while Mark was incapacitated, while continuing to love and support him every step of the way. Our challenges have strengthened our friendship and love for each other. Even though actress Emma Thompson said (and I do believe it), “ I really like people who have suffered. They are kinder..." Caley was already kind. She is one of the kindest people I know...always looking out for other people's feelings, being compassionate and caring, and finding ways to put other people at ease. It's hard to imagine anyone meeting Caley and not liking her!

Caley, you are one of a kind!
A few years ago my friend Kristin and I started a book group, and I asked Caley if she wanted to participate. I wasn't sure if she would say yes, because even though she was an English major like I was, I knew she typically read magazines instead of books (or perhaps that was because of her three girls keeping her busy). She said yes, with the enthusiastic support of her husband, and I was thrilled. That has been a great way to stay in more regular touch, ensuring that at the very least, I will see Caley once a month! And two other wonderful things about book group are (1) we got Caley hooked on Harry Potter (she'd never read it before) and (2) she now drinks a thimbleful of wine each month (after not drinking most of the time I have known her). As she claims to get tipsy on a thimbleful, she's great fun to tease!

Saturday night we had the gift of spending the evening with Mark and Caley at the Thomas A. Edison High School auction...we were planning to go with our friends Lynn and Jolie, like last year, but they were unable to go and offered up their tickets. We always enjoy spending time with them and realized we need to do that more often!

I feel so, so blessed to be Caley's friend.  Happy birthday, sweet Caley! You are such a gift to the world!

Monday, March 11, 2013

God save the rainbow Queen!

Today Queen Elizabeth is expected to sign the Commonwealth Charter, which lists the core values of the 54 member states. The following statement is included in the charter:
"We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds."

The Daily Mail says: "The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality – but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws. Sources close to the Royal Household said she is aware of the implications of the charter’s implicit support of gay rights and commitment to gender equality."

Although we can hardly expect the Queen to be marching in gay pride parades, the fact that she is signing the charter and understands what it means is a great step in the right direction for an extremely traditional culture (the British monarchy). This is particularly important because more than 80 percent of Commonwealth countries have anti-gay legislation. She is setting an important example by standing up for equality and justice.

God save our rainbow Queen!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ten fabulous (Northwest) smells

It's Monday Listicles time, and this week I've put a local twist on the topic, "10 fabulous smells." I live in a part of the world full of great smells...good thing, as I have a very keen sense of smell! Two smells I am most definitely not fond of are eggs cooking and boys' bathrooms...which can be a challenge in my house of egg-loving males!

But here are wonderful smells I never get tired of, many native to or widespread in the Pacific Northwest:

Tryon Creek State Park,
 near our house
1. The forest after spring rain
This is, hands down, one of the best smells in the world. And in Oregon, we have abundant forests and rain! I wish I could bottle it up to sniff whenever I need a lift!

2. Roses
Photo taken at the Rose Gardens last summer
Portland, my hometown, is known as the City of Roses. We have a number of beautiful gardens, including an amazing Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, the Rhododendron Garden, and several public rose gardens. The most famous of all is the International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park--which is completely free. Wikipedia says it has 7,000 plants of approximately 550 varieties and it's the oldest continuously operating rose test garden in the world. Roses bloom there from early spring to late fall--absolutely gorgeous and so fun to go from rose to rose, smelling as many as possible!

Mike's cousin Tammy had a flight attendant
 layover last year, so we took her to see the roses

3. Fresh rosemary
One of my two favorite herbs, we have found rosemary to be prolific in this climate. We have a large bush in our front yard (which grows very little because of the enormous trees) and another one in the back garden.

4. Fresh basil
And this is my other favorite herb. We grow some every year, but never enough, it seems, to satisfy my demands! I love to eat fresh basil on garden-fresh tomatoes with mozzarrella cheese...or make pesto pizza.

5. Daphne odoro
This is one of my favorite flowers, but our plant doesn't seem to produce many of the wonderful-smelling flowers. I guess rosemary does better in our front yard than daphne. When daphne does flower, the blooms don't last very long...similar to lilacs.

Stumptown Coffee
6. Local coffee, freshly brewed
Portland is a big coffee town, and we have amazing locally roasted and brewed beans. Stumptown is the classic Portland coffee (it prides itself on its direct trade with coffee farmers), and as much as I enjoy coffee, I do think it smells even better than it tastes!

Perhaps the last time we
 went to the beach--last summer--too long ago!!
7. The beach
Since the kids have gotten heavily involved with theater, we haven't been able to get to the beach nearly as often this year. I miss the sounds, the smells, and the feel of the ocean and the beach. Whenever I smell the sea air, my cares ease away and I feel much more relaxed.

Just to point out to Erin and Ellen, I would have fit in on your Big Love camping trip with my Keen shoes! Can I come next time? ;)

8. Lilacs
We have two lilac bushes in our backyard--one lavender and one white--and they smell heavily in the spring. I usually cut a few bouquets to place around the house and take one to the office. They always make me think about Walt Whitman's poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."

Stash tea store
9. Looseleaf tea
We have so many great tea outfits in Portland nowadays...we are the home of the world-famous Stash tea, and last year I visited their local store for the first time. We now had a tea shop right in Multnomah Village, the quaint little village within a city that is just 1/2 mile away from us. Service is still a bit uneven there, but it's fun to be able to choose your own teapot and drink freshly brewed tea. Teabags don't smell like much, but looseleaf tea is aromatic and reminds me of the terraced rice fields in Bali, Indonesia, and the sweet smell of fresh tatami in Japan. I do use teabags often for convenience, but the taste of looseleaf tea is vastly superior.

Tea Zone in the Pearl
Having tea with my dear friends Shelia and April at Medley
 10. My homegrown babies' heads
Babies smell so delicious, especially when they are your own! Of course, boys don't smell nearly as delectable as they get older! But even now, when my kids have bathed and shampooed, I still like smelling their heads! Babies no longer, though...
Chris, June 1997 (9 months adjusted)

Kieran, 2003

Nicholas, 2006
Visit Stasha's blog to read about more wonderful smells or join in the fun!