Snow Day! (Snow Week)

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Last week, we were excited to welcome my mom to Portland for a visit - especially since we thought she'd enjoy the warm temperatures we'd been having, compared to cold, snowy Ohio. The weather gods laughed at our plans and dumped 6 inches of snow and a half inch of ice on us while she was here. The city completely shut down. Everywhere we were meaning to visit was closed...even our snowshoeing adventure had to be cancelled!

So even though we love living in our temperate town, we unpacked all of our old winter clothes from back east and went on long walks every day of the storm. We weren't the only ones to brave the weather! Portlanders are intrepid souls - everyone had their ski gear out and their impromptu sleds at the ready. We decided that next year, we're buying snow chains and taking advantage of the snow more often than a once-every-twenty-years storm. (Even if we were both really happy to have temperatures in the 50s again this week.)

Luckily, my mom was prepared for snowshoeing - and came from even colder temperatures - so her visit was more of a winter wonderland than a snowpocalypse. Lots of tasty PNW beer, freshly baked bread, and Olympics watching. A very cozy week!

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A Visit to the Samurai Exhibit (At Last!)

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This weekend, we finally made it to the (last day of the) Samurai exhibit at the Portland Art Museum - and it was well worth the wait! The exhibit was the first museum tour of a private collection and was only being shown at a few museums worldwide, and Portland's was the only stop on the west coast, so we felt very privileged to be able to see it. 

The collection (which was much bigger than I was expecting!) was pieced together over the years by a family from Texas and represents one of the largest of its kind in the world. On our way out, we stopped in the gift shop and got the exhibition book, which has a really interesting essay written by the collector about how his passion for samurai armor began. The book itself is huge and filled with essays written by samurai scholars - and, of course, photos of each piece from the collection. 

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What an incredible collection it was! The amount of care put into the tiniest detail was something that spoke to us, being crafters of (at times) very meticulous pieces. 

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There were so many different types of helmets! It almost seemed as though no two samurai would have ever had the same one. It was really different than the armor at the European armor court I grew up loving to visit - that seems much more restrained and standardized in comparison. The samurai warrior seemed much more individualized to each warrior.

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I could have stayed for days, looking at every last thing - it seemed like there were inspiring details everywhere. I'm really glad we got the book, so we can look through it over and over again and find interesting bits that we haven't ever seen before.

All in all, it was a very inspiring trip to the museum, and a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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Otsukimi

Last week was a full moon - a special full moon! We went to the Portland Japanese Garden's otsukimi festival. Otsukimi means "moonviewing" in Japanese (o = honorific, tsuki = moon, mi = viewing); it's a festival celebrated around the harvest moon. We like any sort of nature festivals - hanami, autumn leaf watching, meteor showers (unless it's cloudy, sigh!) - so we decided we had to go. We bought our tickets and showed up at 6:30pm, not sure what to expect.

...It was such a nice night! Our tickets came with little stubs attached for sushi, rice, beer, sake, and dessert. We watched the moon rise over Mount Hood, walked around the garden in the twilight, ate delicious food, and took another walk when it was completely dark. Well, not completely dark - the harvest moon is really bright! Once our eyes adjusted, it hardly seemed dark at all.

We love the garden during the day, but in the moonlight it seemed extra special. Still, you get a pretty nice view of Portland from up in the surrounding park any night of the year, so we might have to venture up there more often after dark!

Garfield's Memorial & Chagrin Falls

Another place we stopped on our Grand Tour of Cleveland was Garfield's Memorial. It's a big stone memorial built for the ex-president, who was assassinated not long after taking office. The memorial is quite lavish - lots of artisans must have been employed in building it. I can't imagine how much it must have cost to build - all for a president who was barely even president!

It's located in Lake View Cemetery, where lots of important Clevelanders are buried - John D Rockefeller and people like that. After we left the memorial, we stopped in Wade Chapel, which is also in the cemetery. It's a little chapel built in memorial of Jeptha Wade, who founded Western Union and who donated land that later became the art museum, botanic garden, and museum of natural history. It looks fairly normal from the outside but the inside is pretty incredible - all of it was designed by Tiffany and his studios. The front wall has a huge stained glass window and the walls feature large glass mosaic murals. I'd never been very interested in Tiffany's work before seeing the chapel, but this was different than the lamps that he's usually associated with.

The next day, we headed out to Chagrin Falls, a little town on the Chagrin River that we used to visit when I was little. My grandparents lived not too far away and my dad grew up coming into town all the time. It's a cute place that still retains a lot of its old buildings and charm, even if they

do

have a Starbucks.

And I think that just about concludes any Cleveland posts from us - it was a great trip, if somewhat of a whirlwind, and we hope to be back soon!

Lolly the Trolley

Ever since I was little, I remember seeing Lolly the Trolley cars around Cleveland - old-timey red cars merrily going up and down the streets. I always wondered where they went - and I finally got to find out when we took a tour of Cleveland with my dad! It might sound silly to do a tour of a city where you've lived, but we'd done it before and it's actually really fun! We did a double-decker bus tour of New York a few years ago and we learned all kinds of stuff that we didn't know. It's also just a nice way to see a place without having to worry about where you're going. There were lots of things I didn't know about Cleveland (and things even my dad, a Cleveland native, didn't know!).

It was hard for me to appreciate growing up, but Cleveland used to be a really important place - and because of it, there's all kinds of interesting history, amazing architecture, and other things that I would have expected in places like New York but not Cleveland. It was really fascinating to hear about the history of industry - steel, ships, railroads, cars - and its downfall and the city's current resurgence. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon - maybe next time someone visits, we'll have to do a tour of Portland (by trolley or boat!).