Jul 16 2012

North Star Golden Ruby Adventures.

Shimmering golden seas spanned the globe.   The last of the afternoon’s sunshine spilled through the nearby window, highlighting the globe slightly, understatedly.  My eye was drawn to it repeatedly.  A story certainly accompanied it.  It occupied a space in a home packed to the brim with such items, each clearly given floor space because of rich memories:  Balinese doors from a family home of decades past, walls of wooden African musical instruments, prestigious community awards stacked many frames deep against the baseboards and mountains of travel books earmarked and filled with scraps of notes protruding from their borders. It was a home filled with mementos of many adventures.  One would spend days exploring and still miss something.

This visit I picked the globe, with ruby red crystals dotting countries, to ask my hostess about. 

“Our kids gave it to us for our 50th anniversary.  The rubies mark each of the countries we’ve visited,” she explained as she gently spun it counter clockwise “Oh!  There are a lot of countries we’ve visited since then,” she exclaimed.

Add the task to a very ambitious to-do list!

I was the guest of a woman who graduated from a Chicago law school in the mid-40’s – 1940s.  Though in love, she at first resisted moving to Oklahoma.  “I wasn’t sure I could live in a segregated community,” said the Chicago native.  Her two female classmates in law school – both young African American women.

Her Tulsa bred suitor cleverly proposed with a challenge. “Marry me and change it!”

It was a marriage that would launch a lifetime of marvel and incredible contributions.  And the globetrotting hasn’t begun to stop!


Dec 30 2011

Fork in the road.

Do the most significant directional changes in our life come about by design or chance?  By accident, impulse, peer suggestion or careful consideration?  Five years ago, would you have imagined yourself where you are, doing what you are doing and focused on what has your attention today?

What can we truly control and direct and how much do we wish to do of either?

I find myself loosening my hold on the reins, becoming more fluid, choosing now over no and never.  Still seeking a home, a safe harbor for my golden years but increasingly content with an interim nomadic lifestyle and lightening the load of possessions.  Treading more softly and stretching further.

Daydreaming has lost its allure, replaced by exploring – with enthusiasm and the expectation of delightful finds.

Enjoy the freshness of a new year.

Always, Trix


Nov 27 2011

A lot is the same without Carl.

November 27, 2011

Find a few old letters and you’ve got rocket fuel for a trip in a time machine. And you may just like getting to know your younger self.

Three times one recent Sunday I loaded up a bellman’s cart with donations for the Salvation Army and headed for the lobby collection point.  I had scooted a good 100 to 150 pounds out the door before finding a crate of letters saved from the basement flood last December.  I dove in.  I was lost in memories before I had settled comfortably on the carpet.

A quickly scribbled draft of a letter later tidied up and mailed read:

Dear Carl:

Did you ever you make it to LA during mud season?  I keep forgetting to ask. Your lazy summer days in Steamboat are inviting. Are you painting at all?

I am writing from Cleveland – enjoying a break from stockings, hairpins and the Oklahoma heat for cooler, relaxed afternoons playing with my young nephew and niec Today we saw a Chardin exhibit downtown.  I liked his subjects and mood, for the most part, but eventually had my fill of images of dead rabbits nailed to the wall. And I have to say, I still really prefer to see art somewhere other than in a museum. Afterwards we stopped at the Westside Market. THERE I could spend HOURS strolling among the stalls.  Many have been in families for years.  Great faces, stories – so lively!

The trip and staying with family has been a nice break after indulging my appetite for solitude during my first two months living alone.  I am somewhat eager to get back to my place – a high rise flat.  I really like where I live.  My flat is small but the whole north side is one big window. I keep the drapes open to a view of hills and city lights.  Safeway, the library, the river, work – everything but school is within walking distance. Couples I knew in the building before moving in have gone on to buy houses but I meet plenty of new neighbors just coming and going  …

The letter was dated 9.2.1979.

Today the windows in my 11th floor Portland flat frame views of the West Hills and downtown.  A Safeway is next door and I am, again, relatively new to living alone. Neighbors still come and go and I regularly visit the Waterfront to spend time strolling through markets, taking in all the stories, sights, music, people. After years of involvement with the arts, I still view vibrant museums as those flinging open the doors for events with living artists and could-be patrons and I seek out galleries in a new town before paying admission to museums.

The girl who wrote to Carl was less than half my age. At first I felt shamed to have spent 3 decades seemingly going nowhere.  Then it struck me.  Many days I feel 21 again – in a good way.


Nov 26 2011

In the black.

November 26th, 2011

This is the year I will (probably, pretty likely, almost positively) buy a pair of cowboy boots.

They will most definitely be new for me but THEY will not be new.  Baby, this is a perfect example of when to hit the consignment shops. And men, give it some thought, too.

My consignment shop finds to date include  a black leather jacket, fitted wool jacket with perfect lapels for  broaches, lace up boots that looked like they stepped out of my DJ Lafon painting Remembrance and a vintage evening dress that I can wear  fearlessly to any cocktail party knowing I won’t see myself coming and going.

A good outfit is priceless and timeless. And when you want to experiment with a new look, trim the investment by shopping consignment or the sales rack  so a misfire doesn’t send you back to “safe” purchases forever. It’s up to you if you reveal your sources.  It is fashionable to be a smart shopper and sometimes deliciously satisfying knowing flattery can’t include copying.

Save your money.  Support the local economy and shop without going into the red.


Jul 24 2011

Open To Experience.

“Have you looked at the menu? There must be 10 ingredients in each dish,” I said.

I was standing in a crowded, noisy dining room that only allowed for “sound bites” of conversation.

He picked a dish on the menu and began to count.  Scientists can be so literal.

Coffee and pimento-rubbed smoked pork shoulder with pomegranate glaze, Korean rice sticks, lop cheon on mustard green kimchee.  Fingerling potatoes in red miso with Roger Konda’s wild and domesticated mushrooms. Firm tofu with fava beans, leeks and sundried tomatoes with Szechuan peppercorn.

What was easily visible on the menu with the naked eye thankfully proved my hypothesis.

I didn’t have a clue what cheon was and hoped when the time came I could pick out the tofu but first I had to come face to face with the eel. I was attending my first open kitchen. I’d read about open kitchens AKA “pop up restaurants” and on the car ride over to Portland’s southeast side a friend had read aloud the press release about this one at Abby’s.  It was our crash course en route to the event.

In the gathered crowd were four couples I knew but I’d bought a single ticket. When guests and seat assignments are paired at food events it generally means seating all the solo explorers together with or without a stray leftover couple once all the other tables have been filled. I had done nothing to thrust the assignment at the community table with what turned out to be the food and hospitality industry types involved with or studying the production.  I decided my role would be iPhone photographer.

Roger (Konka) turned out to be a rather shy farmer dressed in a Tastykake shirt he’d bought at Good Will. We spoke across the table of the “mowing pigs” he was now raising and the gold mine in truffles. Under a mop of thick dark disheveled hair he had dancing blue eyes in a sun-wrinkled face. My mother would have had something to say about the dirt under his nails.  I thought it made him even more authentic and farmerly.  We both smiled broadly each time a farmers’ market regular came over to fuss over him and share their experiences with buying and cooking the mushrooms he sold.  The florist seated to my right was a retired musical theatre dancer who had left New York, heading west in pursuit of his next career, arriving in Portland two months before the crash of October 2008.  Through many twists in the path he seemed to always land on his feet.  The beverage and spirit educator to my right talked of her 10 years living in Japan and explained her unusual name was really quite common in Israel. When we visit next I will ask her about sake.

By the time I rejoined my Wyatt neighbors for the ride to Teardrop for a nightcap I had made three new friends. It was Saturday.  I had wandered out for dinner on my own the two previous nights.  Friday at a neighborhood outdoor Italian café I experienced being kissed each time the owner talked by my table – cannot say I felt sorry for myself being without a date since I was getting more attention than any other woman in the place. Thursday I had a bird’s eye view for people watching at Irving Street Kitchen while I enjoyed making a meal of just a simple but delicious white corn soup and studying the ink on paper artwork depicting farm animals.

I have said it before but it bares repeating: eat out alone occasionally.  Suck up your courage, let loose of some of your pop bottle money and don’t cook at home. Even if you don’t live alone, and especially if you do, leave the kitchen sink. I promise you it will be more entertaining than most any rerun on TV – certainly any I’ve seen in years.  You may not learn to like tofu (I haven’t) but the port-like flavor of cherry wine may pleasantly surprise you.

Be gracious but particular about the table you are ushered to and above all else, take the time to do more than strictly fill your belly.  Feed your soul, recharge your imagination.  You will live through the execution of such a plan and you’ll do it with a style that will impress the most important person in the room to impress – the one attuned to every detail and nuance of your actions– you.

Bon appetite! Trix


May 23 2011

Perspective 101

A crowd was gathered.  He had a captive audience.

“I mean, come on.  How many tornadoes or hurricanes is it going to take for those people to learn they should not be living where they live?” said the man in line at an airport in northern California, near the Pacific Ocean, near a fault line or two.   He must have been just passing through town. Nearby TV monitors were reporting a hospital badly damaged and the death toll already at 89 in Joplin, Missouri after a Sunday tornado.

The man didn’t single out Missouri; Mississippi was next up as he continued speaking from his soap box with the voice of authority about  undesirable locations to set up home.  I had already been in touch with friends near Joplin.  I moved to another part of the gate area while the A group boarded the Southwest flight.

“Yo, bro!  My bitch is in jail and I’m getting on a plane.  I need you to wire $1500 to the lawyer.  I’ll pay you back tonight.  I got the money.  I need you to do this.  I promised her she wouldn’t have to stay there again.”

A B47 boarding pass earned me a front row seat to learning more about the woman in lock up as the man went through his list of flush, generous friends, talking more hurriedly on the phone, urgency mounting as we got closer to the plane door, and then to picking a seat.   He was pretty young, tattooed and casually dressed.  I wondered what he did for a living to easy swing a 4-digit get-out-of-jail card and be traveling on a weekday afternoon.  I picked a middle seat between to run-of-the mill business men playing games on an iPad and iPhone.

Everyday I wrestle with location and finance decisions but relatively speaking, I’m free as a bird.  I was flying back from southern California.  I don’t see it as a place I’d ever live full time but I already have plans to pass through for a day again next month. I find travel delights, entertains and gives me perspective, sometimes (often) in rather unexpected ways.    Two hours later I was on the Trimet during rush hour in Portland.

Expanding your horizons is pretty easy.  Take a day away from facebook where only the good stuff hits the wall and get a more realistic, unedited take on people’s lives. Travel – around the block, to the next city, the next state or country but walk or use mass transportation otherwise  you’ll miss out on a lot – good and bad.  Tourist choose, orchestrating their experience.  Travelers take it all in.

Tell me of your travels!  Trix


May 14 2011

Common courtesy.

Ever want to muzzle someone?

My phone was pressed to my ear as I talked with a business contact.  I was standing in a dog park with my two Whippets, Leo and Bliss.

Bliss began to bark.  Bliss only barks for the equivalent of the most direr "Code Blue" type instances.  She immediately got my attention.  Her cause for concern: a wolf-looking dog baring down on us in that slow, creepy way.  We were in his sights.

I gathered up and leashed both Whippets. The wolf got closer and his mate, a sleek, black Great Dane, joined in - stalking us.  I looked in the direction of their owner. "Please call your dogs," I called out.

He made a half-hearted effort.  I repeated the request with more urgency in my tone.  Taking flight was no longer an option; the distance between prey and stalker was too narrow.

"I am calling them." was his (lame) response.

"Can you be more assertive? My dogs are frightened," I asked.

A nose distance now from his dogs and increasingly frightened myself, I said, "Get your dogs on a leash NOW!  I am scared."

We visit the park four times a day and have since October 2008.  I didn't know this fellow or his dogs.  The same could be said of the owner and the pit-mix that hospitalized Leo last August.

You know what the jerk said?  "Lady, this is a dog park."

Anything but a gentleman, he may have had the last word but I didn't catch it.  My back was turned after a volley from our camp about common courtesy being common courtesy anywhere.


Jan 29 2011

Now or later.

Do you live in “now” or “later?”

Do you wake up in the morning thinking about all the things you have to do before another sunset?  Do you stop regularly to ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in a year, with whom, doing what?” Do you reflect periodically on all the zillions of moments and memories you’ve already experienced?

Do you put as much energy into meeting new people as you do nurturing friendships?  Do you make a regular effort with either?

Do you make a point of learning something new each day?  Do you walk, ride or drive the same route everyday?

What choices do you make – for yourself?  Are you tourist or explorer or homebody?

I have cleaned my flat, bathed the Whippets, done the laundry, closed the door on my office and turned my back on the photo albums, household items and clothes soaked in the December rains that flooded Wyatt underground storage units and still in need of sorting and fixing.

A year ago I left my marriage of 24 years largely for “now.” I thought we’d fallen into a routine of  “When this happens, we’ll …” all the while living a wonderful life but not content enough.  Connected and not.  The half full glass is half empty.

Since last January  I’ve crafted a busy, full life between my two cities – on my own, sometimes feeling very alone.  Sometimes empowered by the possibilities.  Many times feeling doubly blessed.  I have not always been true to my mission. Routines have gobbled up hours, days.

Today, with almost seven hours until I dress for a theatre date, I have a blank canvas before me.  What do I pick to do first?! How much can I fit in?

Portland’s Pearl is my playground! I’ll share what I find!

Enjoy the moments of today, Trix



Jan 17 2011

Moving forward.

January 17th, 2010

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the United States.

How will you commemorate the day?

Always, Trix


Dec 27 2010

The company of strangers.

December 27th, 2010

“We are going to ride the streetcar! We are parking the car so we can catch up with it.”

On Lovejoy Avenue, just outside Sammy’s Flowers, I was stopped by a little boy colorfully dressed in waterproof clothes.    His sandy-colored dreadlocks swept  his shoulders with each wisp of breeze .  He was either an articulate three-year-old or a petite four-year-old.   He told me more about his plan.  I shared with him my idea of sometime just riding the streetcar until it stopped and seeing where I ended up.  As I watched him walk off with his family for their Sunday adventure,  I thought of my son at that age.  He is 23 now and lives in Tulsa, the city where he was born, the city where I spent all of my adult life until late 2008.

It was Sunday.  For two hours I had been walking a corner of Portland’s Nob Hill Neighborhood and the northern part of the Pearl District. Oddly enough I was thinking about all the ways to get around as I wore through a bit more shoe rubber.  I’d passed boats, cars, buses, streetcars, trains and lots of walkers and cyclists. The public transportation in my neighborhood is a chief reason the Pearl often places in the top five places to retire.  What other things go into deciding where to live?

A bit of goggling and I found sites with questionnaires to help a reader decide where to live.  Factors to consider included work location, cost of living, climate preference, cultural amenities, outdoor scenery, health care access…  I have tallied up pluses and minuses for both Portland and Tulsa.   There isn’t a clear winner.  My marriage brought me to Oregon.  My business client base is still in Tulsa.  I visit Tulsa monthly and still put full-time effort into staying connected to the community.  On Thanksgiving I passed the morning with an iPhone in one hand, a coffee cup in the other – texting and calling over 70 people – many of whom hail from Tulsa.  That Thursday night I dined with Portland friends.

I grew up living on four different continents and an island in Indonesia.  I don’t know that I need to be with someone to feel connected, especially not in this technical age.  Because I work from home, one thing I know I need throughout the day -as much as oxygen and food – is regular brushes with people, opportunities to smile, chances to exercise.  I meet the eyes of each fellow walker, chat with neighbors on the elevator, at the dog park, in the market…I wave as I pass businesses and store fronts to acknowledge the owner of Green Grocery, the designer at Smash Cut, the associate at Umpqua Bank, the concierge at Park Place… I wave back at people on passing trains.  Each walk is energizing.  Each  lifts my spirits in any kind of weather and collectively they’ve helped me shield some (many) pounds!

As I sat waiting for my Mac to boot up to begin writing this entry, I glanced over my left shoulder through my south window.  A neighbor standing in her living room folding linens,  stopped to wave.  Turning back to my screen I looked up and a 12th floor neighbor on his balcony smiled and nodded.

Making your way on your own can be daunting, exciting, scary, overwhelming and confusing – every day!  When you are ready to choose where and how to live, try to embrace it as an opportunity to find a good fit for you.  Listen to one voice – yours.  Make this your time.

And for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE_9CzLCbkY&feature=player_embedded#!

Always, Trix

Trix

http://web02.bestplaces.net/aarp/ls/