If I had a dollar for every time my boss called me and said “Drop everything and catch the next flight to Singapore!” I’d have, well, a dollar. And also, these pictures :-).
Downtown Singapore skyline at night
The historic Singapore Cricket Club, with a game in progress. (That big thing in the background is the Marina Bay Sands casino.)
Walking along the riverfront. That’s my hotel in the background left.
Old and new Singapore live side-by-side
Local street art (commissioned, not graffiti)
In the national art museum, this is a new work, not old. Can you find the proof? :-)
Dinnertime in Chinatown
Yes, you can find “American” food here, including imported Iowa corn-fed beef. Besides food, Singapore is very visitor friendly — almost all signs are in English, and almost everyone speaks it too.
But I mostly tried dining where the locals go. Lots of really great Asian food stalls and hawkers, very inexpensive.
Unfortunately this trip was 80% of the time in an office building with no windows, but Singapore is definitely a place I’d like to come to on a real vacation someday. I just got back from 2 weeks there, and it looks like I’ll be heading back for another two weeks soon. But no reason to complain, and hopefully we’ll have a happy customer soon so I can come home to stay :-).
Where’s Waldo? I mean, where were Nancy and I this weekend? With this great bunch of volunteers, at the Nature Conservancy’s Yamhill Oaks preserve! (This is the same location we volunteered at last year.) This year, we helped clear more old fencing in a different part of the former farm.
Here are a few highlights from my visit back home for the 4th of July.
Dad: “This is a cow”. (I guess it has been a while since I’ve been on the farm ;-)
Tom and Emily show off their patriotic fashions.
Would you believe it? I actually cooked my “cream of anything” soup for dinner for my folks. Today’s anything is potato & kale, with some bonus carrots and onion. I think it turned out well, though Dad said “Who put green in my potato soup?” :-)
With family and friends, we made a “biker’s dozen” on the Stone Arch biking trail.
Along the bike trail, a bit of railroading history.
Did you ever get the feeling you were being watched?
You may think you know what Portland is known for: hipsters, bike commuters, bridges. But here’s the real story. Portland has the world record for the smallest city park! Mills End Park is a real, official, city park, in the median of the riverfront avenue next to a pedestrian crosswalk. It even has it’s own tree :-).
Oddly, even though I’d read about this amazing feature years ago, in all our time in Portland I’d never actually visited it. But I finally corrected this oversight. Can you feel the awesomeness?
OK feel free to laugh at me, but I just discovered that home-made pesto on toast is awesome. Also yummy: blanched broccoli crowns, swiped across butter and a dab of salt, just like sweet corn.
Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid is the latest in the Kid Beowulf series of graphic novels from Lex Fajardo, which make the classics approachable and fun. In Lex’s re-envisioning, Beowulf and Grendel are 12-year-old twin brothers, travelling the world (with their constant companion, Hama the pig) meeting many of the great epic heroes.
One of my favorite aspects of each Kid B book is a short opening section that tells the “classic” story as it has come down to us, with full drama and poetry the way the bards might have sung it, and then the story switches over to Lex’s own retelling. For Kid B and El Cid, many may remember the classic movie with Charlton Heston and Sophia Lauren, but Lex takes on the story at a much earlier time, when a young not-yet-El-Cid Rodrigo is still struggling to find his place in the world. Along the way, young Beowulf and Grendel unknowingly take a few more steps toward their destiny, and (unintentionally) even start the first “running with the bulls” in Pamplona!
I’ve liked the Kid Beowulf series from the start, but it gets even better in this third book. There is new depth and shading, in the art, in the characters, and in the storytelling, which is very appropriate for young readers who are growing up with the twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel. In this installment there are also some strong female roles (Ximena, Queen Urraca, and Boudi), and a story that very organically touches on always-relevant issues of tolerance and empathy, without losing Kid B’s signature sense of humor and playfulness. I highly recommend it for both kids and grown-ups — I love it! (5 stars in Goodreads)
Kid Beowulf and the Rise of El Cid, by Alexis E. Fajardo. Published by Kid Beowulf Comics (2013). Previous books in the series were Kid Beowulf and the Blood-Bound Oath (2008) and Kid Beowulf and the Song of Roland (2010).
The dogs are going to be 13 in May, and they’ve really started showing their age in the last year. So for our big vacation this year, Nancy and I decided to take them on a tour of the Oregon coast, to combine two of their favorite things, car rides and the beach, every day for a week :-).
We have a ramp for the car, which they much prefer to being lifted into and out of the back, and they get tired out much more quickly — no more jumping or running — but their tails still start wagging whenever they get to climb up for a car ride.
For the first few days, we stayed at a pet-friendly B&B near Cannon Beach, just a short walk from the beach. Maggie especially loves the ocean, which she made very clear by the way she led at the end of her leash all the way until she could wet her feet in the waves, and by her big big smile.
A few days later, we drove further down the coast to another pet-friendly B&B in Depoe Bay. It wasn’t quite as convenient to the beach, so we had to drive the pups to get to the water, but it was just another reason for a fun car ride as far as they were concerned.
Here’s something you don’t see every day: beach biking. It is an interesting fact about Oregon that the entire coastline from California to Washington has been legally considered a public highway ever since 1911, with the public having the right to “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches”. I guess this guy is just exercising his rights :-).
Hank and Maggie aren’t up any more for the kind of long or strenuous walks they used to love when they were younger, so after each day’s beach walk we’d find a nice shady spot to park so they could take a well-earned nap. While they snoozed, Nancy and I could check out more of the amazing scenery. Our southernmost point on this trip was Cape Perpetua, which had a trail that led down to the Devil’s Churn, a wave-carved cave whose ceiling has collapsed, leading at high tides (we’re told) to waves throwing spray hundreds of feet in the air. Luckily, we were there at low tide, so we could get a close up view safely.
The trip wasn’t all beaches. We also stopped for a few forest hikes too, which were very welcome on the warmer sunnier days. Munson Creek Falls was a short 1/2 mile walk and pretty level, which was about as far as the dogs wanted to go. I don’t think they were particularly impressed by the waterfall, but Nancy and I thought it was lovely.
April was the perfect time for the trip. It was far enough into the year that the days weren’t winter-short and the weather was great, but the beaches didn’t have the summer crowds that will be coming soon. That’s my kind of vacation!