At The Park

The sun is deceitful on the Oregon coast. You can look out a window to a clear blue sky, the sun above, then walk out to the bone chilling wind. It’s not rain though, and for the parents in the area that means time to go to the park.

When I was a kid it was called a playground. Now that I am a parent it’s more like a meeting ground. The adults hold tightly to their various coffee mugs, exchanging tales of what their little person did today.¬†Intermittently¬†breaking up the conversation are the “gentle” reminders to our kids to not eat bark chips, as they are not real chips, or as they get old not to physically accost the other kids. There is always a “no” for every age.

They find their friends from school, from dance class, the ones they shared library time with as a toddler. That’s the nature of a small town. Even the kids all know each other before they realize what it means to be social, and exchange stories as well about what has been going on in the respective circles.

When I am not feeling particularly social it gives me an opportunity to follow my little blonde whirlwind around the playground catching some snapshots. My favorites are when she and her little friends don’t even think about my presence, and in this case while playing on some of the unusual equipment at this park, I got my shot.

And no, that’s not a UFO above them. Just because we live in Oregon doesn’t mean we all claim to see UFO’s… often. ūüėČ

Spinning

A person’s a person, no matter how small – Dr. Seuss (Horton Hears A Who)

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Tiny Dancers

When I was in the 1st grade I wanted to try everything. Basketball, baseball, soccer (definitely not for me) and gymnastics. Living in Gold Beach, OR only afforded so many actual opportunities to do these things as there weren’t retired NBA stars or Russian Olympian tumblers living just down the street. But, the community made it work

I don’t actually remember how long I participated in the gymnastics program, from what I recall however it was not for very long. I had one goal, and that was to master the balance beam. I trotted along curbs enough that how hard could the balance beam be? It was just a narrower curb elevated a few feet off the ground, no big deal. For some reason they kept ¬†dissuading¬†me from the beam, which at the time angered me, but now leaves me relieved that I didn’t suffer some agonizing fall, straddling the beam and eliminating my change to have my daughter later in life. My daughter who now is in dance class, and gets to walk across a balance beam at the end of each day.

"Warming up"

In December all of us parents finally got to sit in and watch a small demonstration of the class. Since these are all 3-5 year olds a curtain typically hangs across the door so we don’t act as a distraction glued to the glass cheering them on throughout class. But for this day we got to line up along the mirror in fold out chairs and quietly cheer on the little ones.

They stretched. They pretended to be various animals, as well as rocks. They jumped, and swung their legs at the barre. All the things their awkward little bodies could muster. One of the families was going out of town so the older sister did her demo with this class too. The rivalry was minimal.

Sisters

They jumped some more.

Jete`

Finally they twisted and turned, and giggled as little girls in tutus do before a bow from all and a stuffed bear given to each one of them from their dance teacher.

I am glad we can provide these opportunities for my daughter. She’s the blonde with the dual braids by the way. Its an outstanding group of young people. I once remember hearing one of the other dads say “watching them just gives you hope”. Granted, he had been working with them backstage at last years show so I can only imagine he was heavily sedated, but ultimately, I think he’s right.

The Yaquina Head

Yaquina? Yuhkwinuh?¬†It’s ok if you stumble a little when trying to pronounce the name, it’s an Oregon thing. We like to confuse tourists with names like Yachats, Neahkahnie, Umpqua and the ever popular Boring. But on the central Oregon coast there is the Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area, home to Oregon’s tallest lighthouse.

It may not be Oregon’s most photographed lighthouse (that goes to Heceta Head about an hour south) but it ranks amongst the windier points of interest. On this evening it was no exception. I took my daughter out to grab a couple shots when the tourist population was low. I prefer to keep fanny packs and straw rimmed hats out of as many of my shots as possible.¬†

It was blowing hard, as usual, on the bluff that stretches about 1 mile into the Pacific. My daughter ran in circles, tracing the cement compass while I fired off a couple of shots. The lighthouse was closed for tours, inside is a lengthy spiral staircase and usually a volunteer dressed as a caretaker. If traveling the coast this is worth a stop. There is a well designed visitor center with museum, and a small hike to the top of the hill giving an expansive panoramic view. Just remember, they close at dusk….

To see more visit http://www.Facebook.com/KrisMillerPhotography

Harris Bridge Vineyard

In the winter of 2004 I took my burgeoning wine¬†palette¬†to the holiday festival held at the Lane County Fairgrounds. It was a¬†smorgasbord¬†of wine, desserts, and of course nick-nacky holiday attire and potpourri. Filled with smug (yes, smug) I toured the various wine tables, while the group I was with was far more interested in the other goodies and didn’t mind at all that I was tasting my way to needing someone else to drive. Tucked in a back corner was a newer winery. Not that Oregon is shy on up and coming wineries, but this one had a niche. They only dealt in dessert wines.

As a young wine drinker this was immediately appealing since all new wine drinkers like sweet wine. Oh yeah, and they alcohol content was higher. I got to talking to the co-owner of the winery, Amanda Sever, and pledged that if I someday had a wine shop or restaurant I would sell their wines! As she was in the back corner, and many people had passed many other drinking pit stops on the way there, I am sure she was getting plenty of promises. Two years later though I was managing a small wine shop in Newport, Or and they were one of the first calls I made to stock the shelves.

Skipping ahead to present day, I’ve enthusiastically sent people to Nathan and Amanda’s growing winery down a rutted gravel road in Wren, Or. Nestled next to one of Oregon’s historic covered bridges they keep a small vineyard and produce dessert style pinot noir and pinot gris, and soon some liqueur! The cozy barn type structure that houses their vineyard caretaker, story writer, and tasting room frequently hosts live music events and various other activities.

I frequently call dessert style wines “candy wine”. The easy drinking high sugar wines that can easily take advantage of a person with their drinkability don’t always have a wide reach when it comes to being appreciated. ¬†But the variety here is what makes them special. A series of whites that are sweet and smooth served chilled, butted up against a series of reds that teeter on reminding me (at least) of a light port wine.

I’ve taken many ney sayers by for a sample over the years, and not one of them didn’t find something they liked and very often times purchased.¬†

The comfortable environment, the friendly wines and pourers make this an incredibly inviting stop between the valley and the Oregon coast. Find them on Facebook. Browse their website. Each bottle of wine has a “story” affixed to the top above the cork, enjoy their story while making your own.

www.harrisbridgevineyard.com/

Did I mention they have lawn games on nice days?

Those Hands….

Feminine. Dainty. Elegant. These are all words I’ve heard to describe my hands during my life. As a young boy that was right up there with women telling me they wished they had long eyelashes like mine (nearly took scissors to the eyelashes when I was 9, I clearly remember the view of sharp metal just inches from my eye). Not really the reassurance of masculinity I may have been looking for.

I have always had a fascination with other peoples hands. They are a feature I notice. Maybe because so much attention had been drawn to my own, but a girl with pretty hands was always a priority on my list of shallow things to find attractive. The “toe-thumbs” of Megan Fox are a clear example of something I would not be able to get pass, similar to Jerry Seinfeld and his many quirks.

When Natalie was born I waited to hear the doctor say that all those fingers and toes were accounted for. That fear of the unknown as she came into the world of whether or not she was done baking in the oven. As she entered and here little fingers squirmed uncontrollably I immediately realized I just wanted to hold those little hands and never let go.

1 month old Natalie asleep on my lap gripping my thumb in her sleep

As she grows through the stages of first just trying not to poke herself in the eye, to placing blocks through matching slots, holding a spoon or fork to practicing her handwriting, I am constantly amazed over what her little hands can accomplish. She has small, elegant, slender fingers that fit perfectly in her nose, where they can often be found.

Her nails are always short as she shares my bad habit of nail biting. Without knowing it I was passing down to her something I inherited from my mother, and who knows before her.

Easter Hands

She’s nearly 4 now. Her arms can easily wrap fully around my neck where she can interlock her fingers and nearly choke me out when she tries. She has the strength to hang upside down on the monkey bars on any playground. The preferred mode of transportation is still to be carried if she can get away with it, and post nap every day (when she still manages to take one) she sits up, wraps her arms around my neck, locks those dainty, elegant, feminine fingers together and for all I care doesn’t ever have to let go.

 

Sleepy Hands