Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Swifts

Tonight, Amber, Debbie and I met up at Chapman Elementary School to watch the swift migration.  The "Chapman Swifts" are a group of thousands of birds that come to Portland every year in September and nest in the chimney of the school in the NW area.  There are reportedly upwards of 30,000 birds who are a part of this group every year.
Every September you hear people talking about how the "swifts are coming" and family and friends bring picnics and blankets and gather on the school lawn at sunset every evening to watch the bird show.  It really is incredible to see thousands of birds swoop in all at once and swirl around the chimney for about 20 minutes before they finally dive into the chimney for a good night's sleep. The finale of tonight's live performance included a large hawk disturbing the the swifts' well-rehearsed act and actually taking the swift population down a few.  The crowd of people "ooh"ed and "aah"ed throughout the show and applauded at the end.
I was enjoying the peaceful evening... until one of the swifts pooped on my head.  True story.  I guess that's what I get for laughing when a bird pooped on the girl-in-front-of-me's head.  I suppose it's inevitable when you're sitting underneath thousands of birds.
the swifts flying around as the sun sets

the finale - the swifts swooping into the chimney

as pre entertainment, kids bring cardboard boxes and slide down the hill... yes Portland has some odd traditions

Friday, September 7, 2012

Waste Land

Tonight I watched the documentary Waste Land about artist Vik Muniz’s project with the garbage pickers of Brazil’s Jardim Gramacho landfill. This particular landfill is the largest landfill in the world in terms of volume of trash received daily. The ACAMJM (Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho) is a group of people who collect recyclable materials out of the landfill and sell it to companies that can use these materials to make products such as tires, buckets and PVC pipes.  Muniz is renowned for creating art out of unusual materials. When you combine this artist with this garbage group, you get incredible art out of garbage.
Muniz himself grew up very poor and started this project as a way to "change the lives of a group of people with the same materials they deal with everyday." The work he did was inspiring and he made a direct impact on the community by creating this art and then selling it and giving the money back to the association. But the documentary made me realize how much the way we live and the little things we do (or don’t do) make an impact on people like this and what they are working for as well. A little less directly, but an impact all the same.
One of the ladies in the documentary, Magna, who is a very humble, poor picker as well as a very beautiful and wise woman said, “It’s easy for you to be sitting there at home in front of your television consuming whatever you want and tossing everything in the trash and leaving it out on the street for the garbage truck to take away. But where does that garbage go?” That is a very real statement.
I know that we don’t live near Jardin Gramacho, but the garbage that we put in our trash bins in Portland, Dallas or Waco ends up in a landfill somewhere. We don’t see it every day (or ever), so we don’t think twice about where that garbage goes when it leaves our home. But somewhere it is creating a heap near someone’s home and is a dirty and smelly reality in their life.
Easy solution? Recycle everything that you can! Portland pretty much forces us to reduce our waste by picking up our recycling and compost every week and our trash only every other week. It may sound crazy, but it’s actually doable!  Dallas provides an easy way to recycle here.  And so does Waco. It may not seem like much, but every plastic bottle or cardboard box that goes into the recycling rather than the garbage really does make a difference for our world and the people living in it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crater Lake Camping

A few years ago I started the tradition of going camping for the long Labor Day weekend which always happens to be right around my birthday.  This year was quite an epic camping trip as we went to Crater Lake, which has been on the top of my Oregon bucket list for a long time.  I ended up being an all-girls camping trip which was completely awesome!  I've never gone camping without some guys who always end up doing a lot of the planning, cooking, fire-starting, tent-pitching, stuff-carrying.  But this weekend it was just us girls: Megan, Mollie, Melissa, Kathy and me.  And it was so fun!
We packed up the car and drove 5 hours south to Crater Lake National Park.  We checked in at the ranger's station, got our permit and some tips on good backcountry camping spots, put our heavy packs on and hiked into the woods.  The first night we hiked 2 miles into the Dutton Creek area and set up camp.  Kathy cut some wood, Megan started the campfire and we made a yummy quinoa and veggie dinner followed by smores.  It's funny how much better everything tastes when you're out in the wilderness.
We woke up at 4:45 the next morning and hiked out to a viewpoint to see the sun rise over Crater Lake.  It was absolutely beautiful - definitely the highlight of the trip for all of us.  We took naps after we hiked back to our campsite then did a bit more hiking and exploring when we woke up again.
The second evening we hiked 4 miles into the Red Cone area which is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail.  We set up camp and started another campfire.  That night we had a very delicious chili soup dinner topped off with a surprise birthday dessert that Megan came up with.  We individually wrapped a banana, chocolate chips and marshmallows in tin foil, put them in the campfire coals for a bit, then opened it up and dug into the gooey goodness.  It was delicious - especially paired with a nice bottle of champagne that Megan carried in with her.
It seriously couldn't have been a better weekend.  Definitely one of the best weekends I've had in Oregon.  It was an amazing group of girls - everyone was very laid back, easy going, super fun and fully capable of holding her own out in the wild.  Thanks for making my birthday camping weekend so amazing Firefox, Flo Rida, Honey and Scout!  You girls are the best.  Love, Trillium.

Camping Weekend Highlights
- cuddling with Megan in the tent
- dance party around the camp fire
- enjoying a cup of coffee as we watched the sun rise
- watching my friends from different groups (work, old roommate, new roommate, home community) get to know each other
- early morning yoga
- never knowing what time it was
- finally finding the trailhead marked with a tiny handwritten note
- great conversation