Golden Girl and Golden Buddha on to Portland

Some moments driving the flat lands were dramatic. The heavy rainstorm that obliterated my view as the side winds whipped the semi-trucks around as I passed was what I remember most. The knowing that every journey will not be of a piece is helpful in these moments. The dreadful, frightening weather will not be perpetual. The obstructed mountain pass will not be eternal. Every moment begins and ends.

In Portland where I was born, I always feel at home. The mix of buildings from the 1880’s and 1920’s with contemporary towers is fascinating. Trains cross the town and free transit will take a visitor throughout the downtown core for free.

My favorite thrift shop is Buffalo Exchange just across from Powell’s Books. The lectures and cultural events that are hosted in Powell’s makes it a hub for meeting people in the arts.

I recently read an article which stated that the Willamette River which was notorious for pollution has been the focus of a clean up campaign. It is now suitable for swimming.

There is a real feeling of leisure in the city. People do not push pass you or pound the pavement. Most stop to engage in conversation along the sidewalk.

One thing I noticed in most of my travels was the willingness of complete strangers to engage in a conversation. It made me feel at home because well basically it is where I was born. The gregarious and curious nature of Americans is frequently seen as nosey by British Columbians. I made note.

Returning home was difficult. The adventure was over. I had a yard, a garden, weeds to attend to. How could I find new experiences in a town I have lived in for over 20 years and a place I have lived in for over 30 years? It is a challenge.

For now, my birthday is coming up and I am practicing gratitude for what I have. The handy man is coming in to finish the kitchen which was left with holes in the wall and ceiling. It will be another large debt on my line of credit. But it will mean the list of tasks is done.

Once my knee is operated on to have the torn meniscus vacuummed out from between the joints I am clear of all I have been waiting for. Do I stay here, sitting like a broody hen on my line of credit debt or do I find a destination?

Step by step. I am working on my body, on my blog and I have my first you tube posting of me reading my poetry.

I am praying for guidance and a sense of certainty. I am asking for purpose and passion and prosperity to re-enter my life.

And I bought a sequin animal print H & M swimming suit at a thrift shop in Kelowna. Now that is a good sign.

May you dance joyfully even while waiting for the music to appear.

Portland Pictoral

Walking through the Pearl District is a visual treat. Small shops, art galleries, furniture stores, small trinkets and high end items provide a range of experiences.

corporate and sidewalk gardens

I have seen this public fountain many times and there are always people gathered around it. This hot summer day showed it being used by families. I was a bit anxious to see young children standing in the unrailed pools that were above a drop of water over cement.

lady in red

Temperatures reached almost 100 degrees and the glass surfaces reflecting the sun catch the sky. I saw a woman in red standing alone in the open window and was pleased that she could connect to the outside world from her perch.

Well Fargo

Spending hours exploring Powell’s Book Store is wonderful. Go across the street to Buffalo Exchange to have a break, or go up two blocks to Stump Town Coffee.

One outfit cost me $16 dollars including Freedom XXI new jeans for $5, a lamb’s wool sweater $6 and a tee shirt for $5. Even thrift stores have 70% off racks. Look for them.

simply in love

I followed this couple down the street. They held hands and walked for blocks toward the hotel lobby where they met their wedding party. So simple and beautiful.

public art at fountains

public art at fountains

Walk the streets in the downtown core and look at the wonderful sculptures. The city places these treasures throughout the area.

Passing Moments

The baggage handler at the San Jose bus depot had a full arm tattoo that looked like a medical student had done it. All of his veins and muscles were revealed in ink. It was curiously repellent.
Back in Portland, I once again explored the city that I am learning more about. I walked into the Museum of Contemporary Crafts and found several things that really caused me to smile.
One artist makes felted watches with fuzzy hands that will never move. The “watch” is flat and closes on the wrist with a snap. I found the glass vases made of Twisp River sand stunning and the works of Labrie Rich, Barbara Cohen and Katherine Ace were wonderful.

I happen upon the Farmer’s market in the brilliant sunshine and select a nectarine, a blackberry creme soda and gluten free banana bread. After walking four hours, I headed to Buffalo Exchange and found a pair of jeans for $5 that I saw in San Diego on sale for $29. Same pair. After that I crossed the street to my happy place: Powell’s Books. Powell’s is the biggest book store in the world and has rooms that house books of every imaginable subject and condition. Often a buyer can find a used book for half of the price of a new book snugged up on the shelf next to the hardback pristine copy.
I got as many books as I could carry from the spiritual/self-help/philosophy section and went down to the coffee room. Five hours later I headed out the door to take the Red Line train back to the airport and from there to summon the shuttle.
Unfortunately, I had misinformation about how late the Red Line ran. I stood in the well lit square which was very, very quiet for over an hour. Blue Line trains kept coming. Finally a group of street people appeared with several party ablutions and began to welcome in their part of the day. I was very happy when a group of people from a medical convention showed up. A young woman encouraged me to ride the Blue Line. When I got off at the Oregon Convention Centre a very pleasant young man got off at the same stop. He looked up the schedule on his phone and discovered I was SOL. The convention centre was, apparently, even a worse place to be standing around at night so he called a cab for me.
The cab driver informed me that he was a former mechanical engineer and was driving cab to make ends meet. He had to rent the cab on a daily basis, much as my hairdresser rents a chair. “I go off of a 12 hour shift in another hour and I have only made 1/3 of what it cost me for the cab today.” I replied, “You make money at the same rate as an artist does.”
He expressed curiosity as to why all of the 20 somethings were flocking to the city and what they did to survive. “Guess the parents are keeping them afloat, until they get sick. Don’t have any medical.” I wondered out-loud if perhaps they were working on a project basis on the internet with others as I.T. workers. He just shrugged.
The trip cost me $25 and left me a little wiser about the “ease” of transportation in Portland. I finally made it back to my hotel at 1 am but I had met a nice man who offered me a free drink on the park bench, six health care workers, a young man who designs web sites and a cab driver with an education. So it was an interesting evening.

good luck symbol Lakshmi

San Francisco

Well Judith Orloff once told me to go to a city and check its vibe. Really open up to how you feel when you are there. I got off of the Greyhound bus with my heavy backpack and dragging my luggage behind. I headed out the door to where the taxi stand was and no taxi. So I went to where I saw there was a hotel on the map. It was close to 11 pm and the street people were everywhere snuggled in for a night’s sleep. They were frankly looking irritated with me trailing back and forth through their bedrooms which were the side streets.
While I didn’t feel actual fear, I wasn’t really comfortable either. The hotel was full and the desk clerk phoned around and all other hotels were full. There was a music festival and some sort of baseball game on so the entire town was booked with tourists.
Dragging my luggage behind me, I set off back to the bus depot thinking I would maybe just move on. I saw a local city bus a few blocks away and I asked the driver which bus I should take to get to the airport. He pointed back the four blocks I had just come from and said I should ask another bus driver for another system. I went to that stop, waited and asked the driver when he arrived.
He looked at me as if I were certifiable and in a very, very bored tone told me I should take another bus system with entirely different markings on the side which was yet in a third direction.
Condemning him with a cheerful smile and an upbeat tone, I dragged my weight to a third spot. When that bus arrived I went through the routine again. He pointed to the first place I had come from and said that would be the bus. I explained that, no, it wasn’t the bus. He shrugged and slouched back into his bus in a disinterested manner.
Now it is closer to midnight and it is just me, the occasional arrival of one of the three mysterious bus systems and the street people.
I was deciding if I should switch into despair mode when a single woman walked past me. She stopped and quizzed me about why I was insane enough to be alone that time of night. Oh she explained you need BART. She walked me to the BART station, showed me how to buy a ticket and told me to go down several flights. A train arrived but I wasn’t sure which side of the platform to stand on. I asked somebody and they pointed to the neon plane image. Oh.
When I got to the airport, I phoned airport hotels because I was just too tuckered to go further. The Marriott had a deal at $119 a night instead of the usual $195 because frankly who else is going to check in that late. Many thanks to the angel of a woman that appeared.

buzzing place in the lobby

The first day was mostly about reconnecting with a wonderful artist/actress/writer, Ann Tracy, from Sacramento. She drove almost two hours to come and visit me and was stuck on the bridge. All in all it was a really enjoyable day. We sat in the sunshine at the hotel and watched the tide recede and return while eating good food. The waiter was droll, attractive and attentive. Perfectly wonderful time and I had no regrets about getting out to the city. Sometimes what is happening is what is meant to happen. I am very happy to have Ann for a friend. She also told me about an astro-cartographer who can do a chart letting a person know where he or she should be living. I had that done since I got back. The universe keeps providing clues. Just listen. Be still and listen.
So the next day I got to sit and watch the tides moving in the beautiful hotel. I walked to the downtown bus and went shopping but the presence of the street people was so aggressive that I felt both deep compassion and fear. The disparity between the rich and poor is so vast. To get transport to the airport was $8.25 one way compared with 95 cents in Portland. The poor and working poor haven’t got a chance.
I was very happy to get on a plane to go to Portland.

Portland Living in the Light

Murals have sprung up all over the cityPillars of old structures are used to create sculpture

We have just returned from Portland where the sun was glorious, the art galleries plentiful, parks around every turn and the possibilities for exploring constant. Compared to other American enclaves that we had experienced in our stops on the drive down, the Portland resident seems to be either the cause or the effect of an environment that produces slim, healthy, astute citizens. Women in flowered skirts were carefully helmeted but got around the city on bicycle.

Perhaps, all of the “done to the eyes” matrons were up the hills and not mixing with the populous. At any rate, most of the fashion is studiedly casual. Thrift Chic has become looks like thrift chic.

One fair we attended had brilliantly redesigned recycled clothing which was carefully and fashionably restructured. We found this fair thanks to an email from Greg Pitters, a Portlander I met when he selected some of my designs for his modern, edgy wall decor (check out His wife and her business partner helped to organize the event. Even his young son had work on display and has had three one-man shows. The packed-full-of-art event was held at the Doug Fir Lounge. Cameron was very pleased to find his long-sought after lime soap. Three years ago he found lime soap at a high-end design store in Portland and has been yearning for that clean expression to waft in his bath ever since.

Brilliantly colored building in China Town

Portland has done so many things right that it is hard to discuss them all at once, so I probably won’t. Parks abound. We went on an urban hike up through the Washington Park area that took us up to the look out. The white puff of smoke from the Adams fire was visible and the mountains were hazily visible. People played cards, had pic nics, read books and just sleep on the grass. The feeling of safety, of utility in the public space was wonderful. It was an outdoor livingroom.

Creating Art for the market

Only once did we experience the presence of poor tortured souls who were trying to find happiness in a self-destructive manner. A group of four who were stoned and drunk got on the train and sat around us. The obese, highly flammable (gauging from his breath) man sat next to me… after he asked me if it was alright. Then he apologized for spilling over onto my seat. Even in the depths of what ever depths he had chosen to visit, he was polite.

After returning from hours of walking freely along the river, riding transport throughout the city and visiting over ten art galleries in a four block area, It is easy to see why Portland is considered to be one of the most liveable cities in the U.S. In addition, the people were answering the questions we posited to one another about when or where as we negotiated the city. They are discreetly helpful. No in-your-face questions about hidden tattoos or birthmarks, just a desire to be of use was the motivation.The red fire truck and yellow helmets of the firemen against this building!