Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter-writing campaign

More postcards from abroad, with love from Mongolia:

Ryan sent this from Mongolia

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stocking up for the winter

Last weekend, Ev and I went to a farm just outside Portland to stock up on corn for the winter. After we shucked a couple dozen ears, I painfully realized that Ev is much faster at undressing corn than I am. Seriously, she was going at a 3:2 ratio. Either way, our freezers are full of Oregon corn, and Ruthie got have her picture made on the farm.




Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting it wrong

Sometimes writing interesting stories is so hard. You go out to an interview, the conversation is stiff, uninteresting. Still, back at the office, you have to figure some way to finagle a readable story out of something that nearly put you to sleep.

Other times, someone is so interesting that you have no idea where to start. Last week I met a woman, an air pilot, who was just so hilarious and full of life, so full of stories, that after 10 minutes I knew I'd have a rough time trying to boil her down to 15 single-column inches. You should be a book, a movie, I told her. She said Lifetime had approached her about doing a movie but it never worked out. And for a second I thought a Lifetime movie sounded about right (She was orphaned then became one of the first female pilots in the US. She restored her own plane and on her first trip, the battery compartment exploded, spraying acid all over her. She's still a total knock-out -- blonde, tan, youthful in her 60s).

But the more she talked, the more I couldn't imagine anyone else playing her but her. The next day I had the unfortunate task of trying to translate her. Nothing came out right. To top it off, I was trying to write the story on a laptop (for some reason, writing on laptops really stunts my writing ability) at an air show while planes thundered loudly overhead. After I'd turned in my article, I felt sad all night, knowing I hadn't shown readers how truly amazing this woman is. I'm still regretting it. So I just wanted to put down, somewhere, that I know I didn't do an adequate job, that sometimes this job is hard in different ways.

But I still got to meet her, and I'm grateful for that.

Here's the inadequate story I wrote: Air show pilot defies more than death

Monday, August 23, 2010

Can we pretend that airplanes are like shooting stars

I spent the whole day Saturday at the Oregon International Air Show. Basically I spent six or so hours watching planes make a lot of noise, twist through the sky and occasionally shoot out smoke or fireworks. After I'd written my story, which I'll write about some other time, I started fiddling around with my camera for fun. As you can see, I needed to clean the lens. Oh well. The weather was changing like every twenty minutes, so each picture turned out a little differently.





It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Friends, this is not a black-and-white photo. This is the real, live summer sky in Portland, taken just alongside my apartment. Sigh.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recent correspondence

From Alaska and Ethiopia, from my boys:



Monday, August 9, 2010

Dissonance comes together

This month's very short essay prompt from the Sun Magazine is "singing." I honestly thought I had nothing to write about singing, but I'm trying to really force myself to write something on whatever prompt they have, so here we have my offering. I don't think I'll mail it to them, but you, lovely readers, can see:

On road trips, everyone in my family wanted control of the radio. My mother wanted to play the Bee Gees. My dad wanted to listen to sports. I usually had some new mixtape, a combination of pop and Christian songs taped off the radio. My brother ignored us. He had a Walkman and a Green Day tape. Problem solved.

The only song the four of us ever agreed on was The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreaming.” And the only reason we could agree on it is we all liked singing along. The boys sang lead; girls sang harmony. That was protocol, no fussing. (Believe me, I tried to sing lead once. My mother told me to hush.)

It was perfect except for one thing: None of us could sing. Oh, my parents believed otherwise. They both sang in the church choir, and my mother confidently sang praises to the Lord as she swept and mopped the kitchen. But I know better. I have heard our individual tones ringing through the house, and the sound is not good.

My brother accepted his deep-throated croak early on. “I sound horrible,” he whispered to me after an early-childhood attempt at Christmas carols. I learned the hard way, though. For years, my mother told me nothing was more beautiful than the sound of my voice, and I believed her enough to volunteer to sing The Little Mermaid theme song at a seventh grade talent show. It was not pretty.

Still, all our dissonance came together into something totally bearable (and on a family road trip, can you ask for anything better than bearable?) when “California Dreaming” came on. All was right with the world. That is, until we got to the line about the preacher (does he like to crow? does he like the cold?). None of us knew what he was saying, so we mumbled a bit, turning our faces toward our respective windows until the next verse.

Then, full-voiced, we joined back in: “He knows I’m gonna stay. (Knows I’m going to staaaaay).” If anyone could have heard us, they would not doubt we were a family.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy birthday, Ruthie

Twenty-five years ago, the old lady who lived across the street from my dad when he was a kid bought me a present. That present -- a 1964 Madame Alexander baby doll bought from a garage sale for a quarter -- became my most prized possession. Mrs. Corley gave Ruthie to me right before my younger brother was born.

In late July, I celebrated her 46th birthday with Amanda, Ev and Neola. Amanda made her an adorable party hat out of magazine cuttings.




Saturday, August 7, 2010

The tragedy of distance

One of my favorite friends. Seattle seems farther away than it is:



Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer meals

When Amanda and Neola were visiting, we bought a bunch of produce (and bread!) from the farmer's market to make one hell of a dinner. Here is our loot:



This became Oregon beets with Humboldt Fog (California) goat cheese on a fresh Oregon baguette:


And caramelized summer squash over white and red quinoas:


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interview FAIL

Interviewing people is so easy that I forget how hard it is to be actually interviewed. Oh, I often wonder why people actually consent to it, but I forget how hard the actual act is. I remembered how hard it is, especially to be interviewed on camera, when Aubree, Aaron and I went to Louisiana earlier this year. Just in case we want to use in that movie, Aubree conducted periodic interviews with me. As you can see here, I wasn't so great at being interviewed (plus I was sick!).

We're going back in Octoberish, and I think I'll be better the second go-around.

Interview antics from Casey Parks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Her first banana

I found this little snippet of my grandma talking as I re-watched all the footage we shot in Louisiana while working on the Roy documentary. This isn't how the movie will look (it won't be in black and white, for instance) or sound (we had a real sound guy working, this is just off the camera), but I just really love seeing my grandmother talking about the first things she bought when she moved off the farm into town.

Test from ROY from Casey Parks on Vimeo.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summertime lunch

When Quentin used to live here, we made some elaborate sandwiches. My creations without him aren't nearly as ornate and delicious, but they're not half bad:


Add to these items some lettuce, pepperjack and pesto and voila -- my favorite summer sandwich.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In the freezer

All summer long, flour moths have taken over my kitchen. Finally, I had to move all my dry foods into the freezer or the fridge. Things are starting to get tight in there -- especially now that I spent last week making frozen desserts (ice cream, popsicles) with Neola and Amanda.