Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home and Portland Recap

One of the hardest things for me about being back from a trip after the summer solstice is the change in light. Because I get up before sunup a couple of times a week to go to the gym, every moment of daylight counts. I can tell if it's just a scoche darker as I drive to the gym. Yet I squander it at the other end. I come home from work and putter inside and do chores and watch TV rather than sit on the deck and ponder the zippy comings and goings of hummingbirds and the glow of sun on the oak tree in the back yard. And as the evening deepens, I wonder why I didn't spend even just a few more moments breathing deeply under the deep blue summer sky. Pardon me while I go gaze at the stars a bit. That was nice. It's funny hearing the cricket chirps mixed with the screams from the midway--the county fair has started up.

So. Portland was lovely, despite the long days and aching feet during the conference. Which was a solid success, thank goodness. The soaks in the tub most evenings helped keep my spirits up, and the general happy feeling of the conference attendees did too. High points included an informal lunch I organized for women attendees (I had to try very hard to be amused rather than annoyed when some took offense to being called "ladies" rather that "women"--lighten up, gals!) that seemed to go over well--trying to up the diversity of our speakers is one of my job duties. One participant said she had met me at another event earlier in the year and had submitted a proposal to speak at the conference in Portland in part because of my encouragement, and it was accepted--that made me feel so good, like I had made a little bit of a difference. And I actually made a bit of progress myself on a similar front--I had set speaking in public as one of my personal goals for the year, and I did! Well, sort of. It wasn't planned (which was probably a good thing, I couldn't get nervous) and I had two other people onstage with me who were really the focus of the presentation so it ended up being a low-key stage experience, which was exactly what I needed. I haven't actually watched the video of the presentation myself yet. Mom said I did a pretty good job, but I'm skeptical. The main thing is that I did it, right?

I consumed a number of very delightful meals while fulfilling my professional duties. I stopped for Walla Walla onion rings at BurgerVille on my way to convention center on the first day. I consumed fried goat cheese and local beer at the Farm Café with a group of colleagues. With my fellow managers, I slurped edamame and Japanese noodles at Yuki. After a somewhat disappointing trip to Knit Purl and a brief wander on the west side of the Willamette, I tucked into a solo dinner and a delightful pinot noir from McKinley at the bar at Clyde Common, which a friend had recommended months ago and I just sort of crossed its path in a way that seemed Meant to Be. Am I food obsessed? Well, I do have to keep up my strength.

Luckily, I'm part of a family of foodies. Uncle Lloyd picked me up on Friday afternoon and after swooping up Aunt Jacque, Jim, and Enid, we headed out to the Kennedy School, one of the McMenamin Brothers' many arty and delightful establishments. Lloyd caught me up on the latest family tree discoveries, and Heather and the Jones clan joined us much later that evening. The next morning we breakfasted at Bread and Ink then did a great deal of chatting and catching up during the day. Michelle brought the boys over in the afternoon and she, Heather, Alyssa, and I drove out to Edgefield, a former work farm and nursing home, another pleasant McMenamin Brothers establishment. We wandered in the garden and had refreshments, marveling at the bridal parties drooping somewhat in the heat. We enjoyed more conversation and a great dinner grilled by Forrest and Lloyd.

I had just enough time for crepes for breakfast in the morning before catching a flight back to Santa Rosa. What a difference it makes not to have that long drive back from OAK or SFO! M took me out to lunch to one of our favorite new spots, Jackson Grill, on the way home. It was so relaxing to be eating rather than driving. And it was just good to be home again, lovely as the trip was. I did have one PDX disappointment: I finally purchased my very own bag of Stumptown coffee (it was like going into a wine tasting room, discussing what kind I should buy) and I didn't like it! I gave it several chances. Luckily, one of my co-workers also bought some, but French Roast, so I swapped her with my Holler Mountain this afternoon. I'm pretty sure I'll like it better.

It's been tough keeping my energy up at work this week. I think I'm still a little burnt out from my travels. I did take Monday afternoon off to meet up with niece Felicia in honor of her 21st birthday. We had lunch and it was nice spending a little time with her, Denise, and Mike. I'm looking forward to hearing about her birthday exploits in Las Vegas. I'm also looking forward to some sleeping in this weekend! Maybe even napping in the sun one afternoon. I keep telling myself I'm going to do it, that it's really not frivolous at all, but I haven't actually done it yet this summer.


At 4:58 AM, July 30, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you once again Suzanne for a good morning read. There are many really nice things about this day and age, and one of the best is keeping up with the family on the other coast. Your writing is truly the best. love from a.j.

At 8:09 AM, July 30, 2010, Blogger bren said...

I agree with AJ, a good morning read and so nice to be with Lloyd's family. It was fun to see you on stage at the Portland conference, a confident woman.


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