Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Solstice

Last night, Daniel and I ran in the Summer Solstice Six Mile Run in Vancouver, WA. We signed up along with 3 other coworkers and have been training together for the past month. Race day was warm (82 degrees) and sunny with a little wind. The course was scenic, fairly flat, and scattered with cheering fans and music (running to the Rocky theme is incredible, by the way). Daniel and I encouraged one another with a high five at each mile marker. We entered the race with no expectations and ended up both getting 1st place in our age division (top 3 runners not included)! Overall, I finished 9th out of 183 female runners with a time of 51:51. This was a great race to run while training for my Hood to Coast relay in August. I hope to have a few more races along the way.

on your mark... get set... go!

me and Daniel post race

an example of good running form

To Daniel: You finally made my blog! Thanks for being such an encouraging running partner and for not leaving me in the dust!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


This week, the Murdock interns took up putt-putting, a recreational sport which I've never really loved (probably because I've never been very good at it). So we set up a practice golfing area in the middle of our office and I received some helpful putting lessons. We left work a little early that day and headed toward Steakburger Golf-o-Rama. Maybe it was my superb address, alignment, closed stance, the flex of my golf club, or my impressive blade shot, or maybe it was pure luck, but I ended up tying Brad for 1st place. Maybe I should look into golfing as a full time career! Overall, it was a great work outing and I have a new attitude toward putt-putt. I know what you are thinking right now: "Do you guys ever actually work?" No comment.

office practice

fellow putt-putt champion

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Parents in Portland

This weekend my parents came up for their first ever visit to the Northwest! We had a good long weekend together and fit in as much as possible. They arrived in Portland Thursday afternoon and we hit the ground running. Thursday evening my home community group came over to my place and we had a nice picnic dinner in Creston Park which is right by my house. My HC group has been such a blessing to me since the week I moved here, so I'm glad that my parents got to meet some of these special friends.

Friday morning we grabbed breakfast at Stumptown Coffee and drove to Seattle where we spent most of the day at Pike's Place Market. We walked around and enjoyed the fresh flowers and produce, saw the famous fish market, ate lunch by the waterfront, visited the original Starbucks, and listened to some great local bands singing on the street. That evening we went to a Mariners game at Safeco Field where Seattle scored 4 runs in the 8th to win it (unfortunately we left at the bottom of the 7th). We had breakfast at B & O Espresso (one of cousin Claire's favorite local spots) on Saturday morning before we headed back to Portland. We arrived back in the city just in time to visit the Portland Farmer's Market where we bought fresh flowers, bread, cheese, and deliciously juicy strawberries. Then we walked through the Portland Saturday Market where my parents got an idea of what the "Keep Portland Weird" bumper stickers are talking about. I don't know if "enjoyed" is the right word, but we did hear a small band play some very interesting music. I think the word my parents used most to describe Portland is "different" - which it definitely is compared to Waco. Saturday evening we met up with my friend Carrie for appetizers at The Bagdad and dinner at Silk in the Pearl District. Afterward, we stopped in Powell's Bookstore where Dad found 2 of his books and personally autographed each copy - I'm sure they sold pretty quick after that.

Sunday morning we went to church at Imago Dei (another "different" kind of worship experience) where my parents got to meet some more of my home community friends. After lunch at the Detour on Hawthorne, we drove out to Multnomah Falls for a beautiful, scenic hike to the top of the 2nd tallest continuously running waterfall in America. Sunday evening we had a wonderful family dinner at the Moore's house. My parents loved being able to visit with them and express gratitude for the kindness they have shown me here in Portland.

Monday was another full day around the city starting with a 10-mile bike ride along the waterfront. Way to go, Mom and Dad - soon you'll be ready for a triathlon! Since we got such a great work out in, we treated ourselves to Pine State Biscuit fried chicken sandwiches, a real finger-licking treat! Then I was able to show my parents where I work at the Murdock Trust in Vancouver, Washington. It was great for my parents to finally meet all of my wonderful coworkers and put faces with names. We ended the evening with dinner at the Portland City Grill which is located on the 30th floor of the tallest building in the city - the view was incredible! Then we made our way to NW 23rd Street where we indulged in the most delicious desserts (after all, calories don't count when you're on vacation, right?).

This morning we had a quick breakfast at Pine State Biscuits (yeah, we're becoming regulars) with my friend Drew before I dropped my parents off at the airport. I loved being able to show my family around my new town! And this was the first time I had seen them since I moved up here at the end of January nearly 5 months ago - the longest amount of time they have ever gone without seeing one of their children. Yes, I am becoming a professional Portland tour guide, so come on up... I can promise you a good time!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Specialty Coffee Fast

I'm sipping on a sweet, delicious iced peppermint mocha. I'm a little low on energy and wasn't sure if I could make it through the day without a little coffee boost. I often hear myself or others say, "If I don't have some coffee I might die." Its quite an addiction - especially in this part of the country. People literally have coffee built into their monthly budget. So I paid $3 for my coffee fix, took a sip and decided the mocha was definitely worth the cost. But is it really worth it? And would I have "died" if I didn't get a coffee?

I'm sitting in a park off of Burnside Street in downtown Portland. I lift my head and look around me: I see a man carrying his guitar and a pack of what looks like all of his belongings, a girl laying on the grass with an old bike proped beside her, a group of young people with dreadlocks, scruffy beards and grungy clothes. I am reminded of this morning's Call to Worship at Imago. A woman read a reflection on how many of us face difficulty in showing grace to people on the street. Why can't we open our hearts to people who's appearance or presents makes us feel a little uncomfortabe? So often we walk past someone who is in need and turn our eyes and our hearts away from them. My mind usually says, "I'm not the person who can really help them; I'm just a young person living on little money, I don't have enough to spare; It wouldn't be safe to even say hello to them; They don't want my help any way." But my heart tells me something different. The truth is that I do have a responsibility and I'm not doing my part. I can do something, even if it is small.

I take another sip of my specialty coffee drink. It isn't so sweet anymore. It's not worth the $3 I spent on it. So here's my challenge to myself and to you: whenever you feel the urge to buy yourself a coffee drink, when you feel like you might die without it, resist. Use that $3 for a greater good, something sweeter than a mocha (or skinny vanilla latte). One month. We can do it! The money doesn't have to go directly into the hands of someone on the street. It could be used to buy them a sandwich,though. Or donated to a homeless shelter. Or simply saved as a reminder to live a little more simply. This month make conscious decisions to smile at a stranger or ask someone in need how you can help. A little less indulgance can be a lot sweeter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Roller Bladding on the Waterfront

Tonight I went roller blading for the first time in about 10 years. Kaitlyn Amos has inspired me to become recreationally spontaneous (I think she also brings out my innate randomness and wierd nature). We met up by the Wilamette River this evening and bladed over the Broadway Bridge, along the waterfront, and back over the Steel Bridge. I didn't think to wear long socks and now have some bubbly blisters on my lower legs (by the way, Portland seems to be the easiest place to get cuts, scrapes, bruises and scars). Kaitlyn and I have decided to start training for the Portland roller blade derby this summer and hopefully continue on to the Summer Olympics in 2012.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Granddaddy in Portland

This weekend, Granddaddy came up to Portland for a visit! He was only here for a day and a half, but we did a lot during that time. Saturday afternoon we had a great lunch at Elephant Deli, one of my favorite spots. Then we went to the Rose Gardens which are finally in bloom. The amount and variety of roses is incredible and absolutely gorgeous. That evening we had a nice northwest seafood dinner at Stanford's.

Today was another full day. Granddaddy went to church at Imago Dei with me and got to meet some of the people in my home community group. Imago is definitely different from the typical Southern Baptist church, but I think he really enjoyed the service. Then I gave him a tour of my house and neighborhood before we headed east to Multnomah Falls. The drive toward the falls is a breathtaking route along the Columbia River. The falls is a popular tourist attraction and was quite crowded this afternoon. We took in the beauty of the waterfall, then took in the yummy brunch at the Multnomah Falls restaurant. Tonight we went to the Andre Rieu Symphony Orchestra concert - the main reason Granddaddy came to Portland this weekend. It was different from any concert I've ever been to. It was very lively and upbeat and I never knew what to expect!

Overall this was a fun weekend with Granddaddy and I'm glad that I got to show him around the city. He was my first family visitor, but I know he won't be the last (hint hint)!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Burgerville and Bubble Tea

People up here feel sorry for me because apparently I've been "sheltered my whole life". This morning I mentioned that I had never had a burger from Burgerville (a popular organic fast food chain here in Portland). "What?! You've never eaten at Burgerville?" exclaimed my boss Terry in his overly excited, high-pitched voice. "That's it - drop what you're doing. We're going there right now!" "But it's 9:30. I haven't even eaten my yogurt and granola breakfast yet!" He insists, so the other two interns (Katie and Mat), Terry and I load up in his Prius and head down the street to the little drive-in hamburger joint. I figure I will get a little breakfast smoothie or something light, but the guys start ordering cheeseburgers and pepper steak sandwiches! There's no way I could stomach such a meal with my morning cup of coffee. So I get an order of hash browns, which are pretty much 2 huge greasy fries. That wasn't exactly how I pictured my first Burgerville experience, but at least I can say I've been there (although I would like to go back sometime after noon and actually try their famous burger).

Earlier this week, I overheard Katie and Mat talking about a strange concoction called "bubble tea". Curious and intrigued, I asked what exactly this foreign drink is... possibly a tea/soda mix? "You don't know what bubble tea is?!" You would think I was an alien from another planet. I felt like a wierdo, an outsider, a total freak of nature! So tonight, the three of us took a trip to The Fat Straw so that I could experience this drink which originated in Taiwan. It was interesting to say the least. I can't say whether I liked it or not, but I probably won't make it a weekly indulgence. It's a sweet drink made with coconut milk and flavored tea (I chose white peach). But what makes it "bubbly" is the tapioca balls they top it off with (or more like bottom it off with because they quickly sink to the bottom of your cup). The reason this place is called The Fat Straw is because you have to slurp through a big fat straw in order to suck up the tapioca balls (which one might mistake for large, squishy, gummy, flavorless bug eyeballs). Well, I think I've been descriptive enough about this specialty drink, but don't be afraid to give it a try if you are ever in Portland or Taiwan (which are probably the only places in the world who actually know what bubbly tea is).

the 3 current Murdock interns: Katie, me and Mat

Katie and I at The Fat Straw

There's a 1st Time for Everything...
Oregon has an odd state law: you are not allowed to pump your own gas within the state of Oregon. We are the only other state beside New Jersey in which it is actually illegal to pump your own gas. This week, we discovered that Katie has never in her life put gas in a car! But now she works in Vancouver, WA every day so she should experience the gas-pumping freedom she has always been denied. So we made a special trip to Exxon with her yesterday morning so that she could partake in this glorious yet grimy priveledge. It was a slow, difficult process for Katie (I'm not sure if it was the petroleum fumes or the inexperience) but she successfully filled her gas tank and her self-confidence!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tons of 2s

As you all know, I have been an avid babysitter for the majority of my life. When I was 10 years old, I used would beg my oldest sister Emily to take me along with her when she would babysit. "Pleeease, Emily. You don't have to pay me - I'll pay you! Just let me go with you." I was desperate to play with little kids, even though I was just a kid myself. Soon I was getting my own babysitting gigs. As an eighty-pound thirteen year old, I was responsible for the safety and care of young children, including putting the little babies to bed (some of whom I could barely lift over the crib bar). I remember the akward drive home at 10:00 (way past my bedtime!) with the father, since I was way too young to drive. As a sophomore in high, I began nannying for a three-year-old little boy, Will. I would pick him up from school several times a week, so his car seat was always buckled into my car. Many times when I was getting my backpack out of the back seat in the Waco High parking lot, a fellow classmate would notice the car seat. "Ooh, Mary you got a baby? Girl, we didn't know you was a Mama!" Babysitting is how I earned my spending money throughout high school and college. But it wasn't just a way for me to make money, it was something I loved doing; time well spent.

I've really missed babysitting and spending time with kids since I've been up here in Portland. I haven't babysat once in the past five months! However, I have received several phone calls from Wacoans - one even as recent as last week - asking if I would be available to babysit that night (a little too much of a commute for a few hours with the kiddos).

Yesterday was my first day as a volunteer in the Imago Dei two-year-old class. I had a great time playing with play-do, cooking in the PlayMate kitchen, reading stories, having kids climbing on my back. Every other week, I will help out with the little ones during the 9:00 Sunday service. Its incredible how little ones have the power to brighten up out lives!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bad Rep

I admit it - I've been known to pull pranks a time or two, but I wouldn't consider myself a "prankster" by any means. Yesterday Dana, one of the program directors, walks into my office, gives me the eye and comments, "My jaw really hurts from those jaw breakers." I felt somewhat sympathetic, but mostly confused. "Oh, um, I'm sorry to hear that...?" "Yeah, I bet you are," he said sarcastically. "What? I don't know what you're talking about!" I quickly become defensive. "Yeah right. You know exactly what I'm talking about," he says as he rolls his eyes. We banter back and forth as I try to figure out why I'm part of this very odd conversation. Apparently, someone replaced several of Dana's golf balls (which are orderly arranged on a shelf in his office) with large, bright, colorful jaw breakers. After a few other coworkers saw the absurd wall decore, a consensus was reached that I was the culprit. Why they would even consider me a suspect is outrageous! I have to say, it is a pretty clever prank... so if I was responsible I would take full credit. However, I have started a full investigation and intent to find the guilty party and prove my innocence!