Jul 16 2011


Some things just stick.

In my early twenties I read an editorial column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I had always thought one could learn a lot watching another hunt and gather (AKA shop).  I dropped most of my money back then in establishments offering books, wine and music.   How a nest is feathered can also be most telling but, as the columnist directed, skip the art, the books. I would add: the wine cellar, the closet, the medicine cabinet.  Find an excuse to peek in the box, the icebox!

What is inside that GE, dacor, KitchenAid…Subzero will speak volumes!

Under the glare of bright lights, my fridge was quite chatty this morning.

“She’s drawn to farmers’ markets. Totes a camera and on rare occasion, a shopping bag.”

“Heaven forbid there not be a jar of oh-so-versatile fig jam in the place.”

“Might be getting older but isn’t dairy intolerant -yet.”

“There was more food in here before breakfast today.”

“Will be dining on Peppered Pork Loin, Trader Joe lentils and streamed carrots sometime soon – and leftovers for days.”

“Prioritizes. Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano is a must but life is to short to cook and peel beets when they can be bought that way.”

“Picks bananas not by the bunch. Safeway is out the back door, afterall.”

“Too green and too cheap to buy bottled water.”

“Should probably be thinking of buying more Washington wine during the 30% off sale because a girlfriend recently pointed out it costs more to cool an empty icebox than one partially stocked. Adding, “Wine counts, shoes don’t”.”

“Will graciously accept a dinner invitation!”

And that is just the CONTENTS talking!  What does your icebox have to say?

Always be exploring and listening but don’t let anyone catch you talking to the orange juice.


May 30 2011


Yesterday I pulled 49 books (mostly hardbacks) from my belongings and donated them to a nonprofit.  I’ve done it dozens and dozens of times.  And just as many times I have sworn to get a library card and vowed to read more books.  You, too?

I did pretty much give up TV over a year ago with this goal somewhat in mind.  Business reading and facebook, however, quickly filled the freed hours. And today where I am?   Undeniably drawn to two books, reviewed in The Week. One The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman and the other The Subtle Body:  The Story of Yoga in America by Stefanie Syman.

It is a holiday.  The library is most likely closed but not Amazon.com and Powell Bookstore (the largest privately-held bookstore in the country and just minutes walk away). I could use the walk and fresh air.  Then again, maybe a better choice might be to stash the review away for another year and start the running program I’ve been thinking about this weekend or suggest both books to more compulsive book buyers or …

I am a conflicted human being. Choices, though, are sure nice to have, don’t you think?

Make the best of what you pick! Trix

Jan 2 2011

Blue skies.

January 2, 2011

At first the tune was hard to discern over the hum of a crowded dining room equally bursting at the seams with an abundance of winter coats and luggage further muffing sounds.  It wasn’t my imagination; holiday carols were over for 10 months! Michael Buble crooning “Home” (the tale of a frequent traveler), signaled 2011 was approaching. It was New Year’s Eve. I was seated by a fire and an electrical outlet, recharging at Timberline Café in Denver International Airport.

As 2010 ticked down its last hours and minutes, I was traveling a new route to a familiar destination. It was refreshing.

“Why on earth are you flying north?” my mother asked via email. Experimenting with my iPhone, I had used the GPS feature to “check in” on facebook.  My route:  Portland -Spokane -Denver – Tulsa. Economics had trumped playing it safe and winging it over the southern states this time of winter.  Why else would I choose a bigger carbon footprint?

I don’t mind holiday travel.  Do you?  I find the scenery all around is more entertaining. I can take off in rainy season, climb to blue skies and drop into snowy white fields polka dotted by deicer trucks strategically stationed around the tarmac. It’s the closest to time travel I’ve come in my journeys.  Business warriors with vacant looks and cumbersome roller boards are also replaced with gaggles of families.  As I joined the gate-to-gate parade on the ground, I mused, “Boot sales must be recession proof.”  New Uggies dominated in Denver the way cowboy boots rule DFW.  I also caught myself playing a mental game of hopscotch as I passed seated travelers… Hardback, hardback, Kindle, soft cover, Kindle…” I was traveling with all three (and two pairs of boots).  Outward transformations can also occur as one moves away from home, away from routine.  Many parents at nearby tables were still tightly tethered to electronic devises. For some, the laptops and cell phones will retreat to carry-ons by the the time they board cruise ships down south. Conversations will begin with their children as bandwidth narrows. It was already true for a single mom and her daughter to my right.   The little girl had lots to tell the waitress about their itinerary.  Her bright face, unaided by a LED scene, was like a lighthouse beaming in the low-lit dining room.

What was ahead for me in 2011?  What do you picture around the bend?  As I set off for gate 47 my pace quickened.  Soon I’d be flying toward the New Year! I have seen for myself there is plenty of blue sky when you expand your horizons. Let’s do it together!

Here’s to 2011!

Always, Trix

Sep 26 2010



The seasons are changing again. In the past week Portland weather has dallied with fall, winter and summer but never quite the freshness of spring, the flirtatious nature of our most fickle time of year.  Instead the mood has been more the ripening, maturing, the rhythm of established and emerging patterns, routines.

Today it’s a rainy, quiet Sunday.  It’s the kind of day you start slowly over breakfast, reading a book or scanning a newspaper.  A burst of energy follows to set the household in order.  The laundry room hums, kitchen counters are scrubbed, a vacuum is given a spin around the house, trash is collected, pillows fluffed, dogs walked.  Then an eye is cast toward the week ahead.

Noon approaches. In the past I would be right where I am today, in my office.  I would be tidying up stacks of reading, invoices, media proposals, art production elements – doing all the things to ensure a running start on Monday morning and the piece of mind to savor an unrushed, lazy, restorative Sunday night.  This time a year ago Joel would have gone to the gym and returned from the market with armloads of vegetables, salty snacks and bottles of wine.  The TV or the CD player would be turned on in the other room and voices would mingle with the sounds of chopping and cooking, the scent of garlic would meander through the flat.  A rich stew would soon be in the pot, simmering for our evening meal.

A glass of wine deposited on my desk would announce the countdown to lunch and a movie – often a classic, sometimes a thrilling new mystery or a light-hearted comedy, if the week had been somewhat draining.

This sentimental journey of mine began today with dusting.  Every object in my home has a story, a memory.   A bit like my father, I early on assumed the role of Norvell family archivist.  Unlike him, I’ve learned to part with photos, cards… redundant or unused clothing and household items.  Still, even in less than half the space of my former Tulsa house, my collection of material items weighs in at TONS, not merely pounds – ask North American Van Lines. The objects are books, tables, art…  Everything is in its place though none of it selected or chosen to decorate but to amuse, to delight, to commemorate.

When Joel moved out and later when he moved back to Tulsa he took only essentials, leaving even his music collection.

I still qualify as a newcomer to Portland.  My belongings have logged nearly two years here, as have the Whippets; I myself only roughly half that time as business takes me to Tulsa monthly.  Here people do not know of my childhood overseas, they do not know of the over 19,000 hours I devoted to volunteer work for Tulsa arts and nonprofits.  They’ve not witnessed my knack for arranging furniture, events, life… To a degree this helps with the practice of “living in the moment” but I am the sum of many moments, of many encounters, many influences.

“It is important when people enter your home they immediately have a sense of who you are,” Joel said when I asked him why we weren’t dividing up household processions when we separated.

On rainy days, and Portland has its share, I smile as I survey the lush evergreens of the west hills beyond my office window, inhale the cooking scents of a mixture of nearby restaurants, enjoy the feel of the breeze blowing in through open windows and doors that are rarely closed because of the temperate climate, and pause to listen to the sounds of a lively, urban neighborhood 11 stories below.

This city that I am growing to cherish lacks but one thing:  the presence of friends who know me simply by the sound of my voice, the color of my eyes and our shared, intangible memories.

May 17 2010

Good questions.

May 15, 2010

I picked him up in a parking lot.

That’s the story John and I tell when people ask how a fellow from LA (Glendale to be exact) and a woman visiting Portland from Tulsa got to be friends after the briefest of chance encounters one night in late September 2008.

Actually it was a valet parking/taxi line.   Once upon a time there was an elegant south Waterfront restaurant known as Lucier until a wicked restaurant critic wrote a poison pen review that closed its doors.

John is like a big brother, the best kind: Caring, wise, confident. He’s the kind of person you wish you could pop in your pocket and take everywhere.  From the lobby of the Wyatt, as I watched him getting out of his car on Northwest 12th Avenue,  I thought how I like everything about him, everything except maybe his choice in dogs (basset hounds) but I got used (even attached) to cats this year living with Judith during Tulsa visits.  All in all, John is pretty perfect.

One of the first things I learned about him is he has a practice of meeting at least 10 people a day, from which he’s sure to get a respectable quantity of quality contacts.  Want to go to the Oscars, looking for a hotel recommendation in Seattle?  You should have John’s number on speed dial.

“Were you falling short?  It was pretty late that Saturday night when I struck up our conversation. Had you not met your quota for the day?” I’ve asked him, when referring to why he emailed the following day.

After a couple of decades as a hospital administer, John now owns a search company, traveling the country interviewing executives for open management positions at hospitals.  Naturally, he is in the business of asking good (revealing) questions.  He even does it in a way that makes you feel you’ve found the answer without being asked the question.   I have an epiphany following each of our chats.

Late in April we were having breakfast at Lovejoy Bakery.

“I ask but I don’t know the answer.  They die on me.”  John said.  “But I have seen couples handle it lots of ways. Some make a firm rule:  no contact for six months.”

What John wasn’t saying is, “I’ve not really seen your approach before.”

John is happily into his second decade with a partner that still curls his toes, someone in many ways different from him… think classical music meets show tunes, scholar meets life of the party, pianist meets rower type pairing.   His is a “happily ever after” following the death of his first great love.

John was gently, but pointedly asking me about the wisdom of regular, social exchanges with Joel, and doubly so, but to a lesser degree, Jake.  Was it keeping me tethered to the past?  Was it having a negative effect on “moving forward?”  Friends come and go.  Many reconnect periodically.  I have never been involved in severing a relationship. I believe I’m still on good terms with everyone but the mean-spirited, incompetent school director that made Clay’s fourth grade experience a living hell for all three of us. Even we made no plan to never set eyes on each other again.  I’d actually like to see her once and slap her.  I can forgive injustices done to myself, never my child.

Acceptance, responsibility, appreciation and forgiveness.  When your brain and heart work together through these emotions I find anger gets crowded out.  And isn’t that the emotion that dictates harsh endings?

I have always recoiled at hearing a couple “spilt.”  With the intention of remaining whole versus fractured, maybe I have actually prolonged the healing process – removing the bandage slowly.   If I’d walked away sooner what moments would I have skipped?   Would important things have gone unsaid?

Thursday night after a closing tour of “Disquieted” at Portland Art Museum, I visited the gift shop.  There I came across a book titled “Dear Old Love.”  Compiled by Andy Selsberg from postings to his site of the same name http://dearoldlove.com ), the book features anonymous notes to former crushes, sweethearts, husbands, wives and ones that got away.

What has been left unsaid in your past?  Post it here. Maybe it will get read by the person it is intended for, maybe not.  I bet you’ll benefit from writing it.

Maybe these from the book http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dear-Old-Love/Andy-Selsberg/e/9780761156055/ will inspire you:

Touchdown:  I root for the Giants because of you.  My husband has no idea.

Rocky Road: I got fat after we broke up, but don’t let that swell your head.  It was more because I was working at the ice cream store.

Near Miss:  I wish I missed you, so I could do that instead of just feeling empty.

Go Figaro:  Thanks to the tragedy of our breakup, I now love opera.  But I cannot find anyone who will go with me.

Pet Peeved:  I don’t care that you miss my dog.  When you cheated on me, you cheated on him, too.

Nude For Nothing:  Your tepid response to my naked pictures means we are never speaking again.

Not Quite A Regret:  On one hand, I should have kissed you.  On the other hand, I’ve had thirty good years imagining that kiss.

Whatever has gone unsaid, don’t leave today unlived.  As always, Trix

Mar 29 2010

Men’s book list.

March 29th, 2010

If you are looking for “manly” must-reads, this 100-book list should get you started!


Mar 28 2010

Okay to cheat.

March 28th, 2010

If you are reading this, you have at least considered cheating. The kind of person that gives in and then truly enjoys the experience guilt free is my kinda person!  Life is short and self control, according to Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath, is an exhaustible resource.   Liberate yourself! Confess with a post on this blog wall (emailing me doesn’t count). “The last food craving I surrendered to was….”

I may have outgrown it but there have been a few late nights, often after a healthy dose of culture, when I have wanted and had a chili cheese omelette.  The addiction started nearly 30 years ago in the French Quarter restaurant the Coffee Pot (thanks Lisa and Chris).  Before that in college I was known for dunking Pepperidge Farm Nassau cookies in a tub of Cool Whip.  Disgusting?  Which story?  Got me beat? Prove it, I say!

The trigger for this self confession was my last indulgence.  Earlier this month, I was cruising down Memorial Drive in Tulsa.  That’s when it hit me:  the scent and then the idea of a hamburger!   South of the two miles known as “Auto Row,” the heavily traveled street is peppered with fast food establishments and retail.

Now back when he was dancing with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Joel hit Wendy’s regularly for a double cheeseburger.  When we met, however, he was living a beefless life.   “I am  sure to sprout feathers and gills any minute,” I told my mother, commenting on our dinner menus after a few months.  Somewhere in the first year that changed. When I was pregnant we each had an emergency Burger Street cheeseburger in the freezer.  At the red light I texted Joel.  “Carving a hamburger.”

Typos are my trademark; Joel knew what I meant and accepted the assignment to find the ideal Portland burger for Wednesday night. By holding out 48 hours I was contributing to my knowledge of my new hometown, not just given in to a craving.

Speaking of research, many people may not know the shapely, dancer-looking author, publicist and NPR commentator Connie Cronley (Sometimes A Wheel Falls Off is a delicious read) has a hamburger named after her.  I suspect as many people don’t know the hamburger was invented in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was! If Michael Wallis says it was (and the Dallas Morning News publishes it), who dares question his powerful, deep, entrancing voice that can only be the voice of authority?

Michael knows his stuff;  Athens, Texas can only lay claim to a “patty melt,” which is ground beef served between two pieces of bread.  Doesn’t count.  No bun, no burger.  Michael’s research revealed Oscar Weber Bilby was the first person to serve a real hamburger.  The date was July 4th, 1891 – how American!  But wait; does this dethrone the hot dog?

When Wednesday found me back in Portland we took a cab across the Willamette River to… Burgerville.  Not the Tulsa legendary Weber’s in Brookside but a Portland icon, Joel assured me.  The Yukon Gold Fries were very tasty but my money’s still on the burger at Blue Hour.  And in Tulsa, it is hard to beat a Baxter’s Interurban Grill Theta Burger – my way, sans pickles.

Bon appetite!  Trix

www.burgerville.com www.webersoftulsa.com www.bluehouronline.com

Tidbit: In French literature, Blue Hour means any time of heightened emotions.





Mar 25 2010

Book smart.

March 24th, 2010

What is on your nightstand, bedside table?

Reading wise.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo seems to top a lot of lists – sort of the way Noble House and The Thornbirds did in the early 1980’s and The Pelican Brief did in the early 1990’s.  Remember those fun reads?

There have been similar blockbusters since then.  Forget the NY Times list, just take a gander at what people are reading in airports and on planes.  Speaking of which, Kindles are taking off. Do you have one?  On a flight to Dallas I sat next to a free spirit, retired from overseeing the food service of the Pennsylvania prison system.  He liked reading on the (clothing optional) beaches of his Carribean island. Over a glass of wine in the DFW airport I learned from him Kindles are a challenge in bright light conditions.

Switch for me was an easy pick up at Powell’s Bookstore this week since change is inevitable in both professional and personal arenas.  I read Fast Company and I cannot sit still, inspired by so many people doing neat things.  Travel guides for Oregon and Washington also creep into my stack.  It is very easy to work, walk the Whippets and want for nothing living in the Pearl – mixed urban land use at its best, delivering EVERYTHING within 6 short blocks of my front door.  I know I must expand my geographical horizons or face disapproving looks from visitors this summer, to say nothing of bluffing my way through conversations with locals when they speak of any ‘hood outside easy walking distance.

The magazine More came recommended by friends in Tulsa and Portland.  I found it a bit light on content and suggest you’ll do as well with a visit to their website.  On a wild hair I picked up the college day rag choice of many TU female students, Cosmopolitan, and of course, who can resist the marketing machine of Oprah, to say nothing of the cover hook:  REAL LOVE?

I leave you with two items for comment:

Somewhere in the sea of online literature this week I stumbled on a study that concluded 6 minutes a day spent reading boosted your mood.  As willing as I was to embrace this over a recommendation of 6 minutes on a treadmill, I found it rather vague.  Is subject matter important? Time of day? What do you think?

Oh, and here’s a thought-provoking, potentially scary observation: lots of fellows on match.com are reading Five Love Languages.  Are their motives for wanting to understand women honorable?

As always, Trix

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