Sunday, December 20, 2015


6:00 pm Pacific Time. Portland OR_12.20.2015
I'm soaked after a rainy walk to and from the supermarket
Dearest Readers,
Fall and Winter in Portland means almost daily rain and more rain, again and again. I was warned, but I didn’t really believe it. That’s me in the picture above walking back from the supermarket–drenched–in my London Fog trench coat with not enough fabric water repellant.  Sometimes the rain is just a gentle mist. At other times there’s a downpour for an hour, or a nice drip-drop under a passing black cloud. We’ve had a few days of solid precip that created puddles like ponds, that kids slopped through at a local park I attended with grandson Henry. Three Moms looked on, comforted I guess by the fact that all the children were protected by tall rubber boots, rain jackets and hoods. Everyone appears prepared for, or impervious to the dampness.

Preschoolers, decked out in slickers with hoods are undaunted by rain on a class outing.
Kids probably from Albina Head Start on an outing along NE Skidmore St.

Landscapers at my neighbor’s house are doing major terrain shifting in the mud and rain. If they stayed home on rainy days they’d be out of business.
Landscapers from Grass Stains take a break to smile for my camera

Bikers in Portland are ubiquitous rain or shine, with head protection or without.

I equate it to the can-do snow travel attitude in Vermont. Schools and businesses up there are generally open no matter how much snow has fallen. Roads are quickly plowed and people use good snow tires to keep themselves mobile. Likewise, people in Portland keep themselves dry and on the move with the proper clothing.

My daughter Ayla bought me a waterproof rain shell with a hood that can be quickly flipped up or down whenever the rain starts or stops. This eliminates the need for carrying an umbrella.
Wearing my rain shell for a selfie in my bathroom 
Joel lent me his rain pants for walking or exercising outdoors. (My jeans were always getting soaked during walks). 
Much needed rain pants for long walks in the rain

Even my dog Etta now has a lightweight yellow rain slicker with hood. She no longer resembles a drowned rat after a rainy walk.
Etta in my studio in her new rain gear

Everywhere I go the natives know how to deal with the climate. I listen well and this makes life so much easier.
Scotch-Gard is my friend
There's beauty in all of this volatility. The clouds will part, revealing blue sky and sun, or a glorious sunset after a downpour. A fresh batch of ominous clouds may rumble in with rain again, followed by a solid low ceiling of leaden whiteness overhead. Local weather seems fickle, and randomly dependent on which street you live on at what moment in time. Quite an experience!
A clearing of clouds at dusk on NE Rodney Avenue_Portland OR

Monday, December 14, 2015


Sierra my barista and the gluten-free bakery behind her
9:am Pacific Time. Portland OR_12.14.2015

Dearest Readers,
#1. Meet Sierra, the barista at TULA my favorite NE Portland neighborhood coffee shop, serving all gluten-free luscious pastries and earthy coffees.  It's sunny, welcoming and fresh inside. An excellent local coffee shop and cafe was top priority on my list of places and services to find…and Portland does not disappoint!

I found three other cafes nearby that served great brew, listed here in order of best to least favorite, but all excellent and within a 15 minute walk from home.
The Albina Press_N Albina Ave, Portland 

#2: The Albina Press–Great brew, and nice pastries, but nothing that was gluten free on the days I went there. (I’m not allergic, but I’ve found lately that ingesting wheat makes my tummy swell. I’m a bread addict, so this discovery is painful.) The Albina Press has nice outdoor benches with tiny built in coffee rests and a cozy interior with art shows on the walls–
The Albina Press inside-warm and comfortable

but the recorded music is too loud. It always drives me outdoors, even on rainy days. 

Ristretto Roasters on N Williams Avenue, Portland_Grandson Henry's hand on Dad's lap 

#3: Ristretto Roasters–Excellent, excellent coffee, but no gluten free items available the days I went there. The space is slick, sunny and swank. Maybe a little too open and hard edged for me---The atmosphere strikes me as industrial-modern and expensive, but serving delicious joe.
Extract Coffee Roasters_NE Prescott Ave, Portland
#4: Extracto-Excellent coffee, but a long wait for it, and loud music. All coffee at Extracto is a “pour-over”, which means they individually prepare a single drip cup of coffee for you. In my case, it’s a decaf Americano. 
Barista making Pour Over drip coffee at Extracto 

Preparation involved several steps that confused me and took forever.  
Fanciful dragon and monkey mural at Extracto

Luckily the interior was cozy and downscale, with paintings on the walls, and cute repurposed school desks and benches (pews?) for seating.

I’m establishing my new life in Portland by finding anchors, and navigating the neighborhood on foot and in my car, scouting out essential stores and service providers–like a vet for Etta (my aging pooch), a hairdresser for me, a spiritual community, a bank, a drug store, a daily exercise regimen, an artist center, and a nearby supermarket that I can walk to. I’ve zeroed in on most of these. More exploration adventures to come.

The best...and so close to home!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


I'm thrilled to present to you the freakin' Empty POD!

6:00pm Pacific Time. Portland OR_12.3.2015

Dearest Readers,
I’ve done it! Slowly emptied my giant POD of furniture into my little house in Portland (with help of course).
The Ark of My Possessions landed in Portland

My furniture arrived from Atlanta about two weeks ago in the biggest POD unit available. It looked like an ark ran aground in the driveway, packed to the yardarms with at least two of everything in my world. Today the POD man hoisted it up and took the empty shell away. This is a milestone in my change of place.
POD Man hoists the empty ark

And takes her away!

For years I’ve claimed to want to live simply, but this time the rubber hit the road, and I really did have to downsize from a 960 sq. ft. Georgia condo, to my lovely 496 sq. ft. tiny house in Portland Oregon–a reconfigured, redesigned two-car garage adjacent to my daughter Ayla and her partner’s home. 
Half-way through moving in, the house is full and the POD is still 1/2 full

It’s been a challenge sorting through all my boxes and bins of “must haves”, and constructing piles of stuff to donate, keep, or ditch. This is just a corner of the studio before the giveaways:

Some boxes still remain in the house to be unloaded, but I know where things will go. It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but I’m relieved and unburdened.
At some future date more accumulations from my mother’s, and my life will need to be jettisoned, but I can move around in my house now, do Tai Chi and dance in the studio, entertain little Henry, (my grandson), Ayla and Joel, and readily retrieve what I have put away at a moment’s notice.

Creating my nest and studio space was step one in feeling at home. Check!
Cute isn't she? Kitchen on the left, Living Rm/Studio on right. Bedroom behind the kitchen, bathroom and closet behind the studio. Big loft for storing paintings above the kitchen

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Through my windshield driving down into the Continental Divide Basin desert

Dearest Readers,

My journey West is done. I’m here in Portland two weeks now, but I must relate a turning point before I plunge into stories of my new life and new city.

There was a moment on my trip when I felt I had reached a crossing over.  It seemed sacred and momentous, as though I had driven through a doorway into a wide new reality. Something inside my Self stirred when I crossed the Continental Divide seven miles outside Rawlins Wyoming, and dove down into the Great Continental Divide Basin. I wrote about it in my travel blog on Day 7.

The desert is not a welcoming landscape, but it offers deliverance.  Ask any of the early Christian “Desert Fathers”, or our own Henry David Thoreau who used isolation in nature to find the essence of the self. (Thoreau’s Walden, an experiment in living deliberately alone in the woods, exerted a big influence on me.) 

The desert surrounds – flat, exposed, dusty. The Rockies shimmered that day, faintly blue and tantalizing on the far horizon. I was my own Moses on the mountaintop glimpsing the future.
Rawlins WY roughnecks' pickups wait to start the day in the oil fields

Before dawn that morning I walked out of my hotel in Rawlins, Wyoming surrounded by a dense cold fog. Pickups in the parking lot created fuzzy pools of headlights, waiting for the “roughnecks” inside to finish their big breakfasts and head out to the oil fields for their day of dirty and dangerous work. It was another world. Me and my little dog were the outsiders. Yet we were a part of it all.

I began to remember my dreams for the first time in over ten years. In dream number 1, I am athletic, pioneering, and the originator of a big idea to organize and find financing for the colossal task of building a bike route for women across the USA from Miami to Seattle.  The second night I discover a new planet in the sky. I see the entire round shape, and can discern the intricate detail of patches of sagebrush growing all over its surface. These dreams are vivid, memorable and more continue each night.
Me in the creative spirit in my new bedroom (wonderful window shade behind).
The imaginative self is bursting inside my unremarkable body-self. I sense a wellspring bubbling within that will be the source of different ideas for creative artworks. Right now all I can do is open my eyes, and that is not hard. Whatever this new direction will be, I feel very attuned to this place and time.
Strange seed spinners on a vine (or droopy bush)

So much has changed around me. The flowers, trees and bushes delight me in the odd shapes of unfamiliar species. 
Dark-eyed Junco-"Oregon Junco"

Western Scrub Jay-Jreeeet! (rising)

Western variants of juncos, chickadees and jays fly with familiar crows and sparrows. 

I bought Stokes Field Guide to Birds Western Region in New Seasons Natural Market yesterday. Can’t wait to use it. 

Coffee shops brew outstanding coffee, but none so far offer a regular cup of decaf. I know now to order a decaf Americano that they create on the spot. (more expensive however). I’m meeting neighbors and learning all about my grandson Henry, and the wonderful lives of my daughter Ayla and her partner Joel.
Henry next to his artwork in my new studio
Ayla on the right with her friend and business partner Lola on left
Joel on the right with Henry and Etta James in my kitchen

More to come beyond this threshold!-

My little house in Portland_kitchen on left, studio right_bedroom and bath beyond.