Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home for Christmas

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Texas for the Christmas holiday. I am so thankful that I was able to be home for such an extended time period. It gave me a chance to see lots of family and friends and to really catch up with everyone (unlike the usual quick, crammed, rushed weekends I spend in Texas). I took the overnight flight to Dallas on the 17th and arrived at 9:00am just in time for Hannah’s 4th birthday party – breakfast with Santa. Hannah has been talking about her party for months and was so excited that it was finally the big day and that Aunt Mary made it all the way from Portland. I’m so glad that I was able to be there to celebrate with her – she’s getting so big!!

I headed to Waco the next day and was there for the rest of my trip. I loved being able to relax at home, go for walks with my mom around the neighborhood, watch old home videos, eat at all of my favorite local spots, enjoy 85 degree sunny weather, go to the 7th & James Christmas Eve Service, see all of my high school friends, run into people I knew all over town, drive to Austin to have lunch with Merrill and Baby Parker, spend lots of time with Hannah (including my very first Zumba class), do workout videos with little cousin Genevieve, go shopping with my mom and Sarah, have dinner with family friends, play the piano whenever I wanted, go with Carter to get his first haircut, and just be with all of my family who came in town for the holiday.

I especially enjoyed having dinner and spending the night at Sarah and Taylor’s house on Christmas Eve so that I could see Carter open his stocking and gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. He literally screamed with excitement when he saw his new train set, and was nearly just as excited about the chapstick and bandaids he got in his stocking.

Emily, Brett and the girls drove to Waco on Christmas Day.  It was great to have the whole family together - a rare occurance now-a-days.  Poor little Alice Anne was sick the whole time and just wanted to lay in her mommy's lap.  But Hannah and I spend lots of quality time together.  We were pretty much attached at the hip.  We played hide-and-seek, colored, played Disney princess songs on the piano, went out to dinner and breakfast with the "big kids" (the older cousins), and had sleepovers every night.  It was a sad morning when she left to go home - you would have thought we were never going to see each other again.  But I loved getting to spend so much time with my favorite four-year-old neice.

Overall, it was a great Christmas in Texas.  It couldn't have been better!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anne in Portland

One of my best and longest friends, Anne Olson, came to visit me in Portland for a long weekend.  Anne and I have known each other since we were seven years old.  We went to elementary school together at Hillcrest PDS as well as high school together at Waco High.  Some of my fondest memories of me and Anne include a 5th grade trip to New Orleans with our French class, our elementary school theater show (S.O.S.), high school choir and show choir, vacation with her and her parents in Santa Fe, countless nights and weekends hanging out at Barnes and Noble with her and Sydney, and making the roadtrip up to Portland together nearly two years ago.

Young Mary and Anne at Hillcrest PDS.
Please notice the appliqued, oversized, tucked-in tshirt and the one shoulder overalls.

Sydney, Mary and Anne at a WHS Choir concert.  You've gotta love the silk vest and bow tie, crushed velvet dress and sweet letter jacket.

I'm so excited that Anne was able to visit me in Portland now that I really know the city and could show her around.  She got to see where I live, visit some of my favorite spots and meet my friends.  She flew in this past Thursday; we went to happy hour and caught up on life.  We realized we hadn't actually seen each other since last Christmas - crazy!  Then she came with me to my home community group.  I was able to take off from work a little early on Friday and we headed to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.  We stayed at a great resort and had an amazing view of the ocean and Haystack Rock from our balcony.  We ate some delicious clam chowder at Mo's that night, then watched one of our favorite movies, Once, together and just relaxed.  The next morning we wanted to go for a nice little walk along the beach, but it was pretty windy and rainy so we just ran down there, took some pictures, and headed back indoors.  After a yummy brunch, we headed back to Portland.

I've been wanting to visit the Portland Art Museum to see the Lee Kelly special exhibit.  Lee Kelly is Portland's most well-known sculptor who donates one of his amazing pieces to our auction each year.  I knew Anne would appreciate the art museum as well, so we went straight there on Saturday afternoon.  After grabbing some hot tea at Stumptown, we headed home to rest a little before a progressive dinner that night.

Our first stop of the night was at The Bagdad for cajun tots and beer with my friends Megan, Alan, Drew and Madison.  Then we headed to The Montage, a very hip Portlandy cajun restaurant, then to a great European-style pub called The Horse Brass.  It was a great night with good food and even better company!

Sunday morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed and made it to the early Imago Dei church service.  I was excited for Anne to be able to visit my Portland church since we went to the same church, Dayspring Baptist, in Waco for a while.  Then we had a nice brunch at Isabel's in the Pearl District and headed over to the Portland Saturday Market under the Burnside Bridge.  Despite the oddities and quirkiness of the market, its one of my favorite things in Portland!  Anne found a unique flower hanger and I got an awesome picture of the St. John's Bridge (which I ran across in the Portland Marathon).

That night we met up with one of her old college buddies for an early dinner then went to see The Nutracker ballet.  I haven't seen that ballet since I was probably about 6.  It was incredible.  Really beautiful.  We stopped by the Moore's advent party to say hello to them and then headed home.

Monday, Anne enjoyed the city by herself while I was at work and that evening we went to see the Portland Zoolights.  I love Christmas lights!  The zoo was completely lit up and we rode a train through the whole area.  We topped off the night with dessert at Papa Hayden's, the best dessert spot in town.

I loved getting to spend so much time with Anne and really catch up on life.  Anne is such a dear friend and I value our relationship so much.  Thanks for coming to visit me Anne - you'll have to come back up when the weather is a little nicer!

 eating crepes at a food cart

 in front of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

 dinner leftovers at The Montage with Megan

the festive ZooLights train

after riding the zoo train

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soccer Mom for a Week

For the past week I have been acting as Soccer Mom for a friend who is vacationing in Hawaii for a week with her husband. It has been quite an experience taking responsibility for an 11, 14, and 17 year old. These kids are really great - not your typical crazy tweens and teens. Sam, Kelsey and Gerik are some of the smartest, most responsible, respectful and well-mannered kids I know. Kuddos to their great parents, Annie and Andy!

This past week has been an interesting experience that gave me a pretty realistic idea of the life of a parent. First of all, I realized the pressure of being responsible for other human beings and having them heavily depend on you. For example, if I oversleep and wake up at 7:00am instead of 6:00am, then someone might miss her carpool and the first 10 mins of gym class (sorry about that Kelsey – I guess I’m just not used to waking up that early). Or if the kids have soccer practice and friends invite you to dinner, you’ll just have to catch up with your friends another time. After all, your schedule isn’t really your own anymore. Also, the kids expect you to remain calm and make clear decisions (even when you’re still half asleep) in unexpected situations such as one of them getting sick to the stomach at 3:30am and needing medical attention and a little comfort. Even after they’ve headed to school and you’re at work, if one of them throws up after “over-running” in gym class (yet proudly breaking his personal running record) you’re going to get a call asking you to pick your sick child up from school. And just when you thought you were done with homework forever, a kid who worked hours on a book report might accidently lose the document and need your help retyping it and printing it out successfully.

I also learned to walk the thin line between having a good time with your kids and flat out embarrassing them. I dropped little Sam off at soccer practice last week and had an hour and a half to kill. I figured I’d take advantage of this precious time to myself and get in a little exercise. So I decided to run around the nice track where his team was practicing. Several other parents were doing it – it was like a parent’s running club. His shaggy blond hair made him easy to spot and I watched him headbutt a few balls and score a couple goals. Such a great soccer player! On our drive home he said, “I saw you running around the track during practice. That was my team playing on the field.” “Oh yeah,” I said nonchalantly. “You’re team plays really well (not that I was intently observing or anything).” And when a high schooler wants you to drop her off at the movies so she can see Harry Potter with her friends, don’t even think about telling her that you’re dying to see that movie too and would love to come along even if you have to sit in the back corner. But if you do think that, resist the urge and make plans to see the movie by yourself another time.

If you want to get on the kids’ good side, take them to Sonic for a milkshake after a long soccer practice, cuddle up on the couch and watch Toy Story or Twilight, teach them how to make cakeballs, cheer for their favorite football team on tv, offer to let them borrow your nail polish, play (and lose) a game of ping pong, admire their really awesome blanket tent, and just be available to chat over a bowl of ice cream.

I have to say I loved having the opportunity to hang out with these kids for a week and I learned a lot that will come in handy down the road (way down the road).

Hidden Talents of an 11 Yr Old
"I’m really good at not spilling. It’s like my specialty. Oh, and balancing. I’m really good at that, too."
- a really talented 11 year old

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Back on the Board

This weekend was my first time to hit the slopes since I broke my wrist last winter. I have to say I wasn’t too excited about getting back on my snowboard, but I knew I had to face my fear and jump back in the saddle (or the bindings). So on Sunday Alan and I made the hour drive up to Mount Hood in the snow and ice. The snow on the mountain was great – it snowed a lot last week (even in the city).

We decided to snowboard at Skibowl which seems to have a little bit easier slopes (and a slower chair lift) than Meadows where I snowboarded last winter. So we slid into the parking lot, started layering up and then Alan said “Um Mary, you only have one boot attached to your board.” I couldn’t believe I left one boot at home. I thought about throwing my scarf in and just heading home; I thought about snowboarding barefoot or maybe flamingo style; and then I realized I could just rent boots for the day (duh). So once we were fully geared up (with my new wrist guard tightly wrapped around my still achy wrist), Alan gave me a little pep talk to ease my nerves, reviewed Snowboarding 101 and I slowly scooted over to the chair lift. Now the chair lift is by far my least favorite part of snowboarding. I wish I could just relax and enjoy the gorgeous view while ascending the mountain and passing over snowy trees, but I’m just too anxious and worried about getting to the top and having to somehow dismount the still-moving lift while hopefully keeping some sort of grace.  I made it off the lift pretty well the first two times, but completely ate it on the third time.  A little 9-year-old girl standing at the bottom of the lift slope yelled out, "Oh my goodness! Are you okay?" and continued to ramble (loudly) about how embarrassing it is to faceplant in the snow like that.  Thanks, little girl.

It ended up being a great day on the mountain and I have regained my confidence as a snowboarder - a beginner snowboarder.  Can't wait to hit the slopes again!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving... and Now Christmas!

The holidays are here! It's by far my favorite time of year.  Within in the past week, the holiday spirit has quickly set it - possibly due to the inch of snow we got in Portland on Tuesday.  Yesterday was a wonderful thanksgiving spent with friends.  I had Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Drew's apartment.  His dad, his dad's wife and his niece were in town from South Carolina and they sure know how to make delicious Southern food.  We had a great evening of fellowship and fun.  I definitely missed all of my family back in Texas (and Uncle Rufus' amazing fried turkey), but I am enjoying this new tradition of spending Thanksgiving with the people who I am very thankful to have with me here in Portland.

It is now officially the Christmas Season! I can't think of anything I love more than Christmas lights, Christmas carols, holiday parties, and everything else that is part of this joyous season.  My friend Megan, her mom and I kicked off the Christmas season this evening by touring the Pittock Mansion which is exquistely decorated for the holidays and then going downtown to watch the lighting of the Portland Christmas tree in Pioneer Square.  It's rather chilly outside so we sat in the Nordstrom Cafe and watched the festivites from above out the window.  We ended the night by enjoying some delicious guacamole, queso and margaritas (which are always part of any season of the year for me).  Happy Holidays, y'all!

in Pittock Mansion

outside Pittock Mansion overlooking downtown Portland

at the Christmas tree lighting in Pioneer Square

a great ending to a great night

Christmas Time is Here...
"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely..."
~Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Fugitive

My cover has been blown.  They're on my trail.  My name is all over the news and on "WANTED" signs.

According to The Oregonian newspaper:
Troutdale Police are looking for a lilting Irish national, wanted in connection with a series of recent embezzlement cases at local businesses totaling over $225,000.

Mary Elizabeth Carter, 46, was last known to be living in Portland, said Troutdale Investigations Sergeant Steven Bevens. She is wanted on a pair of outstanding felony warrants for aggravated theft.

Carter, described as 5 foot 7 inches and 160 pounds has a slight Irish accent. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Mary Carter, the police need your help.
People at work are catching on.  Yesterday, Bill came over to my desk and said, "What's your middle initial?"  "L," I said.  Today a coworker passed me in the hall and said, "Didn't I hear something about you on the news last night?"  I'm doing everything I can to throw them off, but they are keeping a close watch on me.

I got emails yesterday from family in Texas saying they were "praying for me" and if I get caught I should "plead insanity".  At least they're still claiming me.

Thankfully I'm "housesitting" for the next few weeks (aka hiding out).  I'm hoping the dyed hair, weight loss and Texas accent are a good enough disguise.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blackberry and Rice

This evening, one of the worst nightmares came true: my phone completely died and I was disconnected from the world. For three hours.  I thought my phone was dead for good.  Not because of old age, not because the battery burned out, but because I handed it to a 6 month old.  Yes, I willingly handed it to a 6 month old.  Bad idea. Obviously.

I was taking care of two babies during a meeting at church this evening.  They were doing fine until one of them got fussy and set the other one off.  So they both started crying.  I just couldn't get little Abigail to stop crying.  After trying everything (rocking, bouncing, swaying, singing) I decided I should just go ahead and page her mom.  So I pulled out my phone to send an SOS message and baby Abigail instantly calmed down.  It was as if the lights and buttons hypnotized her.  At that point, I was just glad she wasn't crying and let her suck, drool, spit and slober to her little heart's delight.  From that point on she was a perfect angel.  She was giggling, laughing and babbling.  After about 30 minutes I said, "Hey Abigail, do you want to call Uncle Daniel and tell him hi?" (Her Uncle Daniel is a good friend of mine from Murdock.)  I reached over and grabbed my phone, which slipped around in my hand due to slobber, pressed the phone book button... and nothing happened.  Dead.  I couldn't revive the wet thing.  I was frustrated at myself, but decided to just let it go and take it in to the Sprint store tomorrow.  Abigail and I had a great time playing the rest of the night.  She sucked on her teething toys, pacie, and bottle the rest of the night.

When I got home, my phone still wouldn't turn on so I put it in a bowl of rice.  I had heard about this crazy trick for if you accidently get water (or baby drool) in your phone.  The rice absorbs the moisture.  And what do you know, it actually worked!  After 20 minutes of sitting in pile of rice, my phone turned back on and I was back in business.

Moral of the story: don't give your phone to a baby.  Duh.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This car double parked behind me this weekend.
Ironic?... I think not.
Just a reminder not to be a sore loser.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Deb and I had the opportunity to speak in chapel on Tuesday. We spoke on the blessings of the auction and thanked the staff for each of their roles in making the event a success. We played our Change-a-Life video which is shown right before the paddle raise on auction night (see video below).

The quote used by one of our honorary chairs at the end of the video is from a Hatian proverb that says, "God gives but he doesn't share"... meaning that God gives us humans everything we need to thrive, but he doesn't divvy it up. That charge is laid upon us. What a huge responsibility; and one that we don't do very well.

There is a scripture in Acts 4 that shows an incredible picture of what it would look like if we actually took hold of that charge and shared everything we had:
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had... There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."
We each have so much more than we need. And yet there is still hunger, starvation, homelessness, poverty and suffering in the world. It's an overwhelming charge to take hold of. Where do we start?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Great Adventure 2010

This past Saturday evening was Medical Teams International's 5th Annual Great Adventure Dinner and Auction.  The evening was amazing and we raised $1.34 million!!!  The weeks leading up to the even were long and stressful but I was suprised at how well everything went on the night of.  Of course there are always a few kinks throughout the night (for example: a lost puppy kennel which turned up on the bottom of a cart in the catering tent), but overall everything went very smooth.

It's exuberating to see all of the hard work that has gone into planning the auction come together.  It was almost surreal to see the doors open at 5:00 and watch 650 guests pour into our warehouse which was completely transformed into an amazing international silent auction area and tropical Guatemalan dining room.  I was also amazed at the generosity of our guests.  The live auction was so exciting (at least the bits and pieces of it that I caught while running around dealing with logistics) --- people were raising their bid cards high and often.  Each time a package sold, I thought of all of the effort our committee members put into procuring each specific items that ended up raising thousands of dollars.

So the night went well and was tons of fun.  But most importantly we raised $1.34 MILLION which will touch the lives of millions of people around the world!!

 The International Silent Auction room

our incredible Silent Wine section

Our auction intern Olivia with the $8,000 puppy and one of
the Trail Blazer cheerleaders (our spotters for the evening)

Father Ganz, one of my favorite people in Portland
- so glad he was able to make it to the auction!

Bas and the Auction Chairs about to announce the total

celebration dance!

me and our new Director of Development, Kristen Kirst

click here for more pictures

and here's a pretty cool video of our warehouse transformation

Monday, October 25, 2010

1 Year at MTI

This past Friday was my 1 year anniversary of working at Medical Teams International.   Exactly one year ago I started as a temporary employee just 2 weeks before the big annual auction.  I was thrown into the craziness and didn't really know what was going on most of the time.  I stayed plenty busy and after a couple of months I was hired on as a full-time employee in the Development Department.

I am so blessed to have a job that I love!  My workplace is definitely unique - in a good way.  For example, one day last week a coworker came in after a rough morning.  She opened up to us about what was going on and we all stopped to pray for her.  Prayer is not an uncommon occurance at my office.  It's normal for us to open or close a meeting in prayer or stop during a stressful day and take time to pray together.  We have a chapel service every Tuesday morning where we sing and then hear words of encouragement from guests speakers or fellow staff members.  I know that's not typical in the workplace and I try not to take it for granted.

I also really enjoy my coworkers.  MTI has an amazing and talented staff and I'm so thankful to be a part of it.

me, Deb and Annie during auction week 2009

The 2010 Great Adventure Dinner and Auction is this Saturday.  This is a crazy week at work. Pray for a successful event -- and our sanity!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Texas Engagement

This past weekend I made a surprise trip to Waco - at least it a surprise to my good friend Hannah who got engaged on Saturday!  Her boyfriend, no wait fiance, Ross called me about 2 months ago and said he was planning to propose to Hannah on October 16th and would love for me to be there for the celebration.  Well of course I quickly booked my flight and started making plans to come to Texas without letting anyone but my family know.

Let me start this story from the beginning... On Memorial Day Weekend 2009, my friend Hannah came to visit me in Portland and Drew's friend Ross came to visit him as well.  So we all hung out together that weekend, even took a day trip to Seattle, and had a blast!  I didn't really notice anything between Hannah and Ross that weekend - I was just glad they got along.  Well, they went back to Texas and started dating!  They both came back up to Portland to visit again this past Memorial Day Weekend.  And now, a year a half after meeting in Portland, Ross and Hannah are engaged!!!

Hannah was extremely surprised... Ross told her that he was coming up to Portland last weekend to climb Mount Rainier with Drew but he really just hid out in Waco and showed up where she was in Austin on Saturday and proposed.  And to add to the surprise, Drew and I were there to celebrate with them.  Hannah and Ross are quite possibly the best couple I know.  Congratulations, Ross and Hannah!!!

I also got to spend lots of quality time with my family (while I was hiding out in Waco making sure I didn't run into Hannah and ruin her surprise).  Emily and the girls came in from Dallas on Friday and the whole family was together - a rare occurance.  I especially loved getting to play with Hannah.  We ran around and did cart wheels in the front yard, played the piano together and she watched me sew.  At dinner on Friday night, she put her hand on my shoulder, leaned over and said, "Aunt Mary, I miss you." Made my heart melt.

It was a whirlwind weekend, but totally worth the trip.  I got to see nearly all of my college friends, hang out with the fam, and even meet Merrill's precious little daughter, Parker!

Deep Friendships
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."
- Robert Southey

Monday, October 11, 2010

Portland Marathon

Yesterday I ran my first marathon... and I survived!!!  Ten weeks ago Alan and Drew came up with the genius idea of the three of us running the Portland marathon together.  So we all signed up together, began a crash training program and hit the ground running (literally).  "Running a marathon" used to be on my "bucket list", but I haven't even considered actually running one in years because I always figured it was just bad for your body to run that much.  But after running my first half marathon this summer and the Hood to Coast relay again in August, I figured that if I am ever going to actually run a full marathon now is the time.

So for the past couple of months, a good chunk of my weekends have been devoted to long training runs.  I have to say, there is no way I could have done the training for this race on my own.  Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed going for long runs since my two buddies were running beside me.  It gave Alan, Drew and I time to just talk and enjoy each other's company.  Plus these guys were extremely motivating and encouraging to me since this was my first marathon to train for (they have both run marathons before).  Marathoner Bill Rodgers said, "Your training partners are key to your success, and friendships based on your runs together are strong."  --- this is so true.  Thank you Drew and Alan for helping me succeed in this race and for being such strong friends!

The anticipation and anxiety building up to the race was intense and yesterday morning I was ready to just do it.  After a sleepless night (including nightmares of missing the race), my alarm went off at 5:30am and I awoke to a disguistingly rainy and dreary Sunday morning.  Fall in Portland -- what can you do?  I downed a Clif bar, threw on my running clothes and hat and headed downtown. Unfortunately, while the three of us were on a training run 3 weeks ago Alan sprained his ankle which ultimately prevented him from running the marathon yesterday.  We were all really bummed that he couldn't run it, but maybe (just maybe!) that will give us a good reason to run another race together in the future (the very distant future).  But even though Alan wasn't running the race with me and Drew, he was nice enough to give us a ride to the starting line and then he biked nearly the entire course and stopped every few miles to cheer us on and take pictures.  Seriously Alan, you really went above and beyond for us and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support on race day.

So it rained (not drizzled, but rained) throughout the entire race yesterday.  That made for pretty miserable conditions.  The worst part was that my shoes were soaking wet and full of water making them much heavier than normal.  Around mile 10 I could feel that my body was already getting weak and instead of my original 4 hour goal, I decided all I wanted to do was finish this thing.  There is a big hill leading up to the St John's Bridge around mile 17 (right when you really want to die).  About half way up the hill I about lost it and decided I could only walk.  A random lady in blue ran up behind me and said, "Don't walk. You can make it. Keep going." I don't know who she was but actually several times throughout the race when I was struggling she came out of nowhere and told me to keep going.  Creepy yet really encouraging - thanks, lady in blue!  I made it up the hill with her encouragement and Drew pushing me (literally, Drew had a hand on my back and was actually pushing me).

Miles 17-23 were rough.  Several times I thought to myself, "This is the most miserable thing I have ever done in my life."  There were times when I wanted to cry, hit someone, puke, jump in the river, or just lay down on the side of the road (doesn't this make you want to go run a marathon?!).  But I had just hit a wall - a really big wall - and Drew was amazing in helping me get through it.  He stopped when I stopped, he slowed down when I needed to, he gave me food and water even when I didn't think I needed it, and he told me every few minutes that I was going a great job.  Drew, I would have never finished without you - seriously, I would have happily jumped in the back of someone's truck and taken the easy road home if you hadn't encouraged me the entire way!

There were so many other people that came out (in the rain!) and encouraged us throughout the race: Alan, our #1 fan of course; Drew's coworkers cheering at mile 11 and 25; Josh at mile 18 with a sign that said "Freight Train Carter" and a dry towel for me to wipe my face with; all 3 of my roommates yelling louder than anyone and giving much needed high fives at mile 20; the Dudleys at mile 24 giving us water and bananas for our final push to the finish line.  Drew and I finished strong with a time of 4:18:15.  One of the best signs I saw during the race said, "Pain is temporary, pride is forever."  My body was definitely hurting, but at the same time I felt so good.  Several people asked me yesterday if I wanted to run another marathon... ask me again in a few weeks and I just might say yes.

 early morning run in the rain

obviously early in the race - I'm still smiling

drenched to the core, but trying to push through the pain

smiling to keep from crying - getting so close to the finish

we did it!

the gang

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Piano in Portland

I took piano lessons throughout my entire childhood and teenage years (starting when I was 6 years old until I graduated high school at 18).  There were definitely times when I wanted to quite and escape the daily hour of practicing, weekend competitions and yearly recitals, but for the vast majority of the time I loved playing the piano (at least that's what I recall looking back on those years).  I have always lived in a house with a piano (for years we even had 2 pianos at the house - imagine the chaos of 2 little girls practicing piano at the same time) so I was always able to just walk downstairs, sit on the bench and play to my heart's desire.  I have really missed having easy access to a piano here in Portland.  There is an electric piano in the chapel at work (which I play every third Tuesday of the month at chapel service), but an electric piano just doesn't have the same feel or sound of a regular piano.

So for the past few weeks, I have been searching online for a free or inexpensive piano.  Alan and his roommates want to have a "music room" in there house and I was put in charge of finding the piano.  After hours of searching, I finally came across a posting that said "Upright Piano free for the taking. At the corner of 32nd and Hoyt, in front of the garage."  So I made that location the end goal of my run yesterday, and in the middle of a 13 mile run, I found the piano sitting in front of the garage and covered with a tarp.  I took a  quick break, played some scales on the keys to hear the tone, decided it was a pretty good deal (since it was free and all), and ran home to call Alan.  He and his 3 roommates and I piled into Scott's little truck, drove to the Laurelhurst neighborhood and picked up the piano.  It was quite a feat getting this piano into the back of the truck - we even had to recruit a random guy walking down the street to help.  But we (actually the boys - I tried to stay out of the way) got it in the truck bed, strapped it down and Scott drove the mile and a half extra slow and carefully while Alan and Chad pounded chords (or really just random notes) all the way home.  Just imagine you're walking down Burnside (the busiest street in the heart of Portland) and a little white truck with a huge oak piano passes by spreading piano music and laughter as it goes... it was quite hilarious.

The guys somehow managed to get the piano into their house without damaging their hardwood floors, their backs, or the instrument (well maybe a few scratches here or there).  I have to say it's not the best piano I've ever seen or heard: several ivory pieces of the keys have broken off and need to be glued back on, a few keys stick unless you pound them about 10 times, and once we got it to the house I realized that there are no pedals on the piano (we are currently using a screwdriver for a pedal until I find the right replacement pedals).  Oh well, it was free and it plays so we'll take it!

I brought a few of my favorite piano books up here with me and played through them for a good while last night.  Then I taught Alan the piano basics and he practiced in on of my old Christmas song books - he caught on pretty well and I wouldn't be suprised if he's practicing the piano right now.  I'm pretty excited to have easy access to a piano up here now - finally!

making a game plan for moving the piano

the previous piano owner, the random guy who stopped to help, and the boys lifting the piano into the truck

strapping it in for the ride home

thankful the piano didn't fall out - strategizing how to get the piano in the house

Scott taking a break to tickle the ivories with the piano half way out of the truck

it was tricky getting it through the door

the free piano - isn't she a beaut'?!

To Mrs. Lindsey
I truly believe the reason I love piano so much is because you were such a great teacher - seriously! You have been such a wonderful influence on my life ever since I was 6 years old and if I still lived in Waco I would want to start taking piano lessons from you again!  So many people say that they really regret quiting piano lessons when they were young.  Thank you for always encouraging me to continue playing and for teaching me all that I know!

2 ½ year old Mary learning to read music and play the piano young!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010