In May, Martin and I met my mother, Uncle Joe and cousin Ali in Palm Springs. It was the perfect combination of poolside lounging, eating, hiking, tennis playing, scoping out real estate of the rich and famous, visiting art galleries, hiking and riding around under the beaming sun, top-down in Joe’s convertible.
(There was also a now-classic line from my mother. Driving by the massive wind farm outside of Palm Springs, she asked, “What makes them spin?” and then wondered if they were solar powered.)
But one of my favorite parts of the trip was finally getting to see Joe’s condo, which is by far the most fabulous condo in the history of fabulous condos. He bought it 5 or 6 years ago, gutted the whole thing (minus the fireplace) and rebuilt it with bold, bright mid-century colors and modern concrete floors throughout.
OK. So you know how you always want to see before-and-after-photos? (C’mon. You do. Everyone does.) Well, staying with Joe was like a real-life before-and-after. Martin and I crashed at a condo two doors down, which belongs to an old lady who now lives in a nursing home. The two units had the exact same layout and the exact same fireplace. Aside from that, they could not have been any more different.
It was like mid-century modern meets Del Boca Vista. Behold:
And a few shots from the trip:
Summer is for snoozing… and playing fetch.
Did I tell you I have a new job?
In October, I left my outpost in downtown Vancouver, Washington, where, from my cubicle, I could watch the bridge lift up and down over the Columbia River. I now spend my work week in a windowless cube under blue fluorescent lights in a “skyscraper” in downtown Portland.
(Or what counts as a skyscraper in Portland. The building has less than 30 floors.)
My old view of the bridge during a lift. If you look closely, you can see some “skyscrapers” on the horizon. That’s downtown Portland.
Working in downtown Portland means I’ve been able to leave my car at home and take the bus or light rail to work, which makes me feel like I’m back home in New York (sort of). It has also meant that Martin could sell his troubled Toyota to a man who knocked on the door and offered cash for it, full well aware of the condition it was in.
Taking the bus has many perks. One less car insurance bill. Less gas. One less car on the road. My work subsidizes my pass, so it’s only $40 a month for unlimited rides. And I can lost in a book during my commute, play games on my phone or stare idly out the window and think about absolutely nothing.
It also has its drawbacks.
In November, Martin and I went to Hawaii to celebrate the fact that we put a ring on one another’s finger and agreed to put up with each other’s gas until we’re old and incredibly gassy.
(I jest. It was much more romantic than that.)
These are the iPad doodles I drew from our trip. We began in Oahu, where we camped on the beach at Waimanalo Bay while we played in an ultimate frisbee tournament. (I know. I know. On our honeymoon. But it was only fitting! We met playing ultimate, so why not celebrate our marriage by playing ultimate?) Afterwards, we drove up to the North Shore, where my cousin got us a family discount to a fancy resort for a couple of nights.
Then we flew to Kauai and stayed in a rental house I found the night before on the Internet. It was perfect: Ten minutes up a single-lane road outside of a historic plantation town that’s outside of the slightly larger historic plantation town that’s outside of the tourist outpost of Popui (on the sunny side of the island). We had a majestic view of the ocean from our lanai, where we could see the private island Niihau on the horizon.
The trip was relaxing and wonderful, save for the moment I slipped off of a trail while hiking on the Napali Coast, rolled my ankle and somersaulted off the edge, catching onto a palm as I rolled to stop my fall. Nothing like hanging off the edge of a cliff to make you thankful to be with the one you love.
I drew most of these in Hawaii, without my stylus (which went missing right before we left). I drew the rooster and the cat when we got home—you can see the difference the stylus makes.
Lately I’ve been documenting our adventures using my favorite iPad app, Paper by FiftyThree. It started with our honeymoon in Hawaii. I decided to sketch moments and memories, sometimes in real time, but most often after the fact using photographs. (I have a few more drawings to do for that sketchbook — but I’ll share it here when I’m finished.)
These sketches are from our recent trip to Omaha to see Martin’s family and watch Notre Dame in the BCS Bowl Game with them. (Nevermind the Fighting Irish’s dismal performance or the Manti Te’o fake dead girlfriend fiasco — we are still fans.)
The high noon sun beat down on the Great Plains as we made our descent into Omaha.
Grandma Gert has a new iPad. She uses it to play pinochle. Occasionally she attempts to use the internet.
Martin’s Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jerry let us use their season tickets to the Creighton Bluejays at CenturyLink Center. My first NCAA basketball game!
The Jays won, handedly.
Grandma Gert gifted us a jar of her famous plum jelly, this batch made by Martin’s aunt.
Martin’s parents bought him a new sweatshirt for the big game. This is the design on the front.
Every time we come to Omaha, we make a pilgrimage to Upstream Brewing in Old Market.
This is Old Market, my favorite part of Omaha. It’s all cobblestone and red brick. You can almost imagine how this former industrial/wholesale district must’ve been bustling with horses and buggies and Model T’s.
Two minutes after Martin’s mother dropped us off at the airport in Omaha, Martin realized he’d left his wallet (and his ID) at her house.
He called her and shortly thereafter she was zooming her way back home, a good 20-minute drive from the airport, to locate the wallet and bring it back to us. We checked my bag and printed our boarding passes and nervously kept our eye on the clock. We had only so much time before our flight.
Forty minutes later, she was back, and we zipped our way through security with plenty of time to board. In all, she’d spent one hour and twenty minutes that day driving to and from the airport.
“Our mothers do so much for us,” Martin said to me.
Just east of Portland is this amazing park called Thousand Acres. It’s a dog’s dream. There’s river access and miles of trails and marshland. On any given Sunday, hundreds of dogs romp through the brush there, sniffing butts and splashing through puddles and rolling in delicious smells.
Today was no different. We brought the dogs (including our 80-year-old neighbor’s puppy Golden Retriever-yellow Lab mix*) and they ran and ran and ran for hours.
It was a brisk day for Portland—high 30s, no cloud cover. Ice cubes lined the shore of the Columbia. Most non-polar bear mammals would consider this “too cold for swimming.” Not so for our dogs.