Archive for November, 2010

Cars Should Be Called Fatmobiles!

As most of you know, we made the decision to move back to Portland as renters, living center city, without a car, plunking our children in their neighborhood public schools. And, we made it through last winter, spring soccer, and various summer camps sans vehicle. We were proud. But, as we all know, pride goeth before the fall.

Autumn arrived, and school started anew for the Zs, who were to be on two different campuses, playing soccer in two different leagues that called for four separate practices during the week and two to three soccer games every weekend. My parents were kind enough to loan us a vehicle when this crazy schedule began, and we planned to use it just until we worked through our various transportation challenges.

We began our brief stint of car possession with earnest promises to ourselves.

“We will only use it in place of the Zipcar. We won’t drive anywhere that we would typically walk, bus, streetcar, or bike.”

We super promised each other. But, somewhere along the way, someone must have been crossing their fingers because we learned, the hard way, that when you have a car at your disposal, when it’s parked right downstairs, you opt for efficiency and forget about walking altogether.

“Just this once, it’s so much faster…”

After less than a month, I am sad to say, we almost had fully regressed to the habits of the car owned. Tom knew we had jumped the shark when he drove the 6 blocks to Hot Lips Pizza to pick up food for the kids one night.

Aghast, we called my parents and asked them to take the car back, posthaste. They couldn’t do it for a few weeks, and we were in a panic. No lie, over that month-and-a-half, Tom and I each gained about ten pounds.

I am happy to report that we are again car free these days. (Although still very appreciative for the loan, Mom and Dad!) Yes, it is rainy, stormy, misty, and awful out, but we couldn’t be happier to be biking, walking, and streetcarring once more. The photos you see here in this post were taken on recent walks going about my daily routine — not moments one experiences from a car. I love the organic imprints left by leaves and rain on the sidewalk, which I snapped on the walk to my gym. And, this bare little tree with its few bright orange leaves still clinging to branches provided a stunning contrast to the driving wind and rain that marked a recent trek across the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge as I made my way to a work meeting. Truly, it was exhilarating!

Instruments of Torture, AKA Heels

I recently bought some pants that are a smidge too long, breaking my cardinal rule about never purchasing slacks that need to be hemmed. This deviation then prevented me from wearing a typical work shoe with my new suit in an effort to accommodate the longer leg length. You see, I normally wear something from my collection of Danskos for work (various colors and styles, but no clogs), which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. They are wide, comfortable, sturdy, attractive … well, in sort of a man-suit kind of way.

I have dubbed these faves my “nun shoes,” which could be interpreted negatively, but rest assured, it is an affectionate nickname! These shoes were my best friends when I worked in brokerage–valiantly trudging through construction sites, standing up to cold empty warehouses, shedding the rain, and not causing fatigue after a full day on my feet.

Strangely enough, I am used to comfortable shoes now. I am acclimated to not torturing my feet. To actually expecting my shoes to fit and be comfortable…ALL DAY.

This was a lesson relearned recently when I wore the pleather boots, shown above, to prevent my aforementioned new pants from dragging on the ground. I had to dash about 1/3 of a mile to pick up my Zipcar for a work meeting, and I have to say, I felt pretty hobbled. (Our new car-free lifestyle is, well, demanding on the old shoes.) Which is not to say I can’t walk in heels, because I can, but good grief, I was really missing the long easy strides I achieve with my nun shoes. And, I was left feeling…hmmm, maybe less substantial… because I was mobility challenged of my own making. (Thank God a train didn’t come, no mad dashes across the tracks for me.)

If you attend a wedding, you will notice as the event winds down that women’s formal shoes are strewn all over the dance floor and can be found tucked betwixt and between tables and chairs. The ridiculousness! Wearing shoes that destroy our feet…buying shoes in which we can’t walk for protracted periods of time! Footwear designed for sitting. I mean really, as we mince and wince around the city in our stilettos and wedges, can we honestly snicker about barbaric practices of the past, like Chinese foot binding? (X-ray of bound feet shown below.)

EPILOGUE: You would think that my desire to avoid sprinting for a Zipcar in the boots of death might motivate me to get those pants hemmed, right?

Sadly, it didn’t. I am lazy.

The next time these particular slacks entered the professional clothing rotation, I avoided my fake leather friends (which are clearly footwear designed for reclining on a black leather chair whilst pretending to be a Dominatrix) by instead using the college trick of temporarily raising my pant’s length with the strategic application of two-sided tape.

Yep, that meant nun shoes for me. Pain-free strolling on the way to my work appointment.

In truth, I felt very smug with myself as my meeting began. Stifling a contented sigh, I crossed my legs during the presentation to sneak a quick peak at my superior temporary hem job, only to realize that I was wearing the wrong color socks! *sigh*

Sometimes, I think I am a horrible girl!!

Hotel Murano, A Review

The quick and dirty: Cool boutique hotel on the inside, crappy post-mid-century modern (read: not attractive) beige building on the outside, with service that was mostly, but not entirely, “ept.”

For those of you who want more exhaustive details, then please keep reading below!

During our recent stint in Tacoma, we stayed at the Hotel Murano, which is owned by a regional upscale hotel chain. It is well located in the center of town and happens to be festooned with an amazing collection of glass art. The hotel itself is in a building that looks to have been erected in the 60s or 70s. So, while they have attractively rehabbed the interior, given what they had to work with, the exterior of the hotel is still less-than-compelling visually.

Pictured below is our standard king room. It was functional, well designed, the bed was comfortable, the view pleasant, and there were two great bathrobes, one of which actually fit Tom. (Often, when we travel, we are supplied with two robes that seem designed for Lilliputians.) We had a few quibbles: the phone didn’t work properly, nor did the television remote or the safe. We asked them to replace/fix the latter two issues, which they did speedily.

For lunch, we tried the hotel restaurant called Bite. I can say this about their food — what it lacks in excitement and quality, they make up for with portion size. The service, well, that’s a bit difficult to put my finger on. I guess it could best be described as accidentally brusque; I don’t think they realized they weren’t providing a good experience, if that makes any sense.

Some interesting features:

  • They incorporate a bit o’ whimsy into the mundane. Their “do not disturb sign” says “tied up” instead. And, they have a notice in your room that informs you: “A copy of the News Tribune is included with your stay. If you do not wish to receive the newspaper, please contact the front desk for a $0.18 refund.”

  • Each floor has an exhibit devoted to a single glass artist. Shown above is a corset from the artist on our floor: Susan Taylor Glasgow. I was enamored of this piece. She takes symbols related to the domestication of women and makes them into glass forms that are attached via non traditional methods, such as the stitching, shown here. Mesmerizing. (A snapshot of Susan working on this piece can be found below.)

  • On the restaurant floor, there was an Argentinian glass artist named Miriam di Fiore, who now lives in Italy. Her work is captured in a photo below, as well.

  • The lobby is very lively and appealing, with a bar, and also some fabulous works of art, such as the two canoes suspended from the ceiling.

  • There is a seating area outside the lobby, along the sidewalk, with music piped in, an outdoor fireplace, and some cushy upholstered furniture. I was delighted to see a hotel trying to contribute to an active street scene in this way. Bravo!