Nov 12 2010

Surviving a poke.

November 12, 2010

9 things out of 10 I usually can do really well.  Those successes put me over the moon (probably not a glam scene but I do a jig around the kitchen that leaves no doubt I am happy with an outcome).  I am as good at fixating on the one thing not exactly stellar.  I’ve had 52 (just) years to hone my single-mindedness.  Trust me – it is powerful stuff.

When one is spinning around from major life changes (and I no longer believe they come in series of 3 but rather groups of 3 weekly), there are many opportunities to convince yourself you are a total screw up.

It can be just as easy, or should be, to celebrate staying in the game, unafraid and open to what chance brings.  When my tender heart takes a poke I remind myself, “good to be feeling something!”

Don’t miss out on life!   It is meant to be shared.

Trix


Nov 10 2010

My guy Tad.

“Tad, as in Tad the Cad on All My Children?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

About the name – pretty sure he’s been asked before by those of us familiar with the soap opera role played by actor Michale Knight. My Portland Tad is a homeless fellow I met him through the Whippets in the Fields.

My friends who know of Tad worry about me and our connection.  They needn’t.

The Fields is a rare undeveloped plot in Portland’s Pearl District that functions as a semi-official off-leash area.  In one particular spot it hosts a treasure chest of smells and discarded items. Most dogs and owners miss it, preferring the grassy fields for games of fetch. Whippets don’t play fetch. Leo gets the ball and then deposits it as far away from the person who flung it out there as possible. During Leo’s first days of living with us he and I indulged in games of Donut Dash in the long hallways of our Tulsa home. Leo would retrieve the greenish, tennis ball material, donut-shaped toy. He’d then quickly zip back towards me but always try to skate past me on the bamboo floors with his catch. I caught him, threw the toy back down the hall. The game continued.

The day I met Tad was a sunny, but slightly cool day. He was wrapped mummy-style in a green blanket on the pavement next to his heavily laden cart. The Whippets couldn’t resist exploring. They sniffed and poked around Tad during each of our first two walks of the day despite my effort to distract and chorale them. By mid-afternoon and our third walk, we found Tad standing, neatly folding his linens. I apologized for my nosey Whippets.

“I’ve found a huge bag of dog food. Would your dogs like some?” Tad asked.

Tad has eaten dog food, cat food, too. He definitely prefers dog food.

“Is it the oiliness of the cat food?” I asked Again, “Yeah.”

I worry often about financial security, especially starting over in my 50′s when many friends are retiring and embarking on fabulous trips I don’t see in my future. Tad didn’t once complain about his situation. He was, indeed, concerned about the disorder of his cart when I took his photo. Now when the weather here turns cold and wet, I text Tad. “Are you somewhere dry, warm?” He sends me a photo of an enclosed parking garage – his cart off to the side.


Oct 18 2010

Dancing Through Monday

October 18th, 2010

Good and Monday in the same sentence?  You bet!  Not really a stretch today to say, “Great Monday!” when describing the 4th, 11th and today (each spent in a different city).

There is a lot of wisdom and good advise in fortune cookie messages.  I think. My last TWO promised the 18th would be lucky. “Expect the best and that is most often what you’ll get.” I carried that fortune in my wallet for YEARS.

At around 6 o’clock I went to the kitchen to get my purse for an OfficeMax supply run.  Hearing music from the corner by the window, I thought I’d left the stereo on.  When I walked closer, I discovered the music was coming from outside - 11 stories down and 2 blocks away.  I RAN to the elevator.

10.18 Dancing in the Streets Watch the video, if you’re in the mood to dance or want to get in the mood.

On my way south to OfficeMax, while there and even on the walk home I found more delights and surprises – JUST as I expected!

Expect Tuesday to be over-the-top!  And share the details with me.  xo, Trix


Sep 26 2010

Belonging(s).

REALITY, MEMORIES AND DREAMS OVERLAP. Deb Hillner

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.


Aug 15 2010

Dog Days of Summer.

August 14, 2010

It’s hot.  The dog days of summer when Sirius joins the sun in the sky have arrived, creating sultry temps and casting an eerie quiet over the neighborhood during the time of day you can almost hear the sidewalk sizzle.   The dogs uncharacteristically pant and on each shortened walk, pull me toward every neighborhood water bowl to be found.  In a dog friendly town, there are many; Leo insisted we stop outside the Pilates’ studio, then the bank, the bakery, the clothing boutique.

The heat has me thinking again of garden hoses, or more accurately the absence of one.  For only the second summer in my adult life I don’t own a hose.   This time last summer I had a 10-foot Ace Hardware hose hooked up on the balcony.  On sunny, hot days I’d dress in a swimsuit and happily set about watering the trees, bushes, flowers, pavement and myself before happily collapsing, refreshed and relaxed for a cocktail or meal prepared by Joel.  I gave that hose to the couple who now occupies the flat because my newer flat doesn’t have an outdoor spicket. My current patio plants must be maintained with a watering can.   It’s green and made of rubber, a gift from The Plant Lady, Gay Hendricks.

Watering plants each day now seems more a chore than a summer ritual.  I know, it’s all about attitude. I’ve debated filling the watering can and dousing myself with its contents, saving just a bit to sip from the spout but it seems a wanting substitute for a real garden hose on a hot summer day.

I don’t have to think hard to remember dragging a hose across the lawn or the courtyard, using my thumb to shape and direct a rainbow-producing cascade of water over thirsty plants in a sun-baked yard or spraying an unsuspecting poolside sun worshiper. And no Alpine spring water in a plastic bottle I have ever had compares with the cool, refreshing nectar of water from a garden hose on a dog day summer afternoon.

As long as there are summer days there will always be such simple pleasures.  I try to make  the most of them during this time of transition when losses can still overshadow days.  Each moment of pure joy cancels out a moment of sadness and at least an hour or two of indifference.

Hoses may be gone from my life but there is still Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Money Ice Cream in a waffle cone.  Catch ya later, grator!

Stay cool. Trix


Aug 14 2010

Closer than you think.

Think about the drive to work today, or the drive home.  With or without a mobile phone in use, how often were your thoughts somewhere else?

We often cruise familiar turf preoccupied with thoughts outside the present moment and space.   Could it be we are similarly programmed to look elsewhere for things that perhaps are right under our nose?

Take hiking and coffee. The airplanes are full this time of year with travelers headed to Oregon to enjoy the state’s trails and java shops.  Since moving to Portland I’ve even taken up hiking. It bares a strong resemblance to what I once called walking, but the scenery is different and I do it regularly with friends – something I never did in Tulsa.  “In Tulsa,” I have explained, “the harsh weather keeps us inside socializing over food and wine.” In Portland I feel like a kid again, playing outside with chums.

I Goggled hiking Tulsa and got 322,000 results.  I Goggled coffee houses Tulsa and got 45,800 (substituting Portland for Tulsa yields 2,140,000 and 290,000 results respectively.)

Clearly I could have hiked in Tulsa everyday of the over 30 years I lived there. And despite 107 degree weather this month, I did – twice! Not with the same companion both times but that’s beside the point.  Come October, I am confident both will consider joining me again.  Both my August outings acquainted me with Turkey Mountain on the west side of the Arkansas River.  I’d only been there once before though I still own a house just three miles west on 71st Street.  With a heat index of 115 degrees, you may wish clothing was optional but the tree canopies protect you from the sun; bottled water combats the heat.  And (thanks Julie!) I learned a simple way to navigate this unfamiliar urban wilderness: consistently climbing up hill not only provides a better workout but makes later finding the parking lot and your car as simple as walking (excuse me, hiking) downhill. In Portland’s Washington Park, my strategy is simply to follow whoever is ahead of me and keep tabs on my off-leash Whippets.

When it comes to coffee, my approach is equally simple.  I usually get my daily dose brewed at home in one of those noisy “by the cup” machines that will wake the dead in the morning but yet go relatively unnoticed by chatty dinner guests many hours later in the day. Though I live in Portland, where Starbucks coffee beans are roasted, I buy Topeca Coffee in Tulsa and cart it home in my suitcase.  (Each and every time I open my suitcase to find an airport security inspection notice. I can only figure I am suspected of using coffee beans to throw off the hounds sniffing for other substances.)

I buy Topeca coffee as much for the story, as the taste.  Topeka was founded by John Gaberino and his wife Maria, a woman from El Salvador whose family has owned and operated a coffee plantation for six generations.  I remember years ago when John used to serve up samples of the coffee for Petty’s shoppers.  When the coffee market hit one of its lowest points, the Gaberinos and Maria’s relatives had determined the best way to continue the business for another six generations was to take the product from the field to the consumer, a process they dubbed “seed to cup.” This last trip to Tulsa I finally met Maria. It’s an easy task to find her in their relatively new cafe downtown.

When the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa reopened after 30 years -sporting a $50 million plus renovation, Topeca Coffee opened a cafe on the ground floor.  It’s an inviting spot with glass table tops resting on trays of coffee beans, comfy leather sofas and over-sized photo portraits of plantation employees, like Miguel, who works on the patios. As the portrait label reads, “Topeca uses a traditional method of sun-drying fresh beans on large patios.  Beans must be raked and turned often to ensure all moisture is gone.” In Tulsa, beans from El Salvador are roasted on site daily and freshly brewed coffee is served with an assortment of pastries and sandwiches. I’ve read the Starbucks story; I don’t get the same feeling from it as I do talking to Maria or John.

The next time you are yearning to explore or wishing for a change of scenery, try looking at home with fresh eyes.

Always, Trix

My finds:

http://www.topecacoffee.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_Mountain_(Oklahoma)

www.washingtonparkpdx.org/map.htm


Aug 10 2010

Dogs & neighbors

I awoke today to find cards slid under the front door of my flat.  Each addressed to Leo or to Leo and Tracey.

Leo is my five-year old Whippet. He was viciously attacked by a Pit mix in the Fields, an off-leash dog park two blocks from our home in Portland’s Pearl District.

Dogs, like children, jump start the process of getting to know your neighbors.  In my experience, dogs  even more so than children.  Children, after all, are heavily booked with after-school activities – keeping parents on the run to places outside the neighborhood whereas dogs provide occasions to walk the neighborhood, conversing with those you meet on the street.  At least in an urban environment it works this way.  Without a fenced backyard, one walks with one’s dog(s) and a proper supply of doggie do bags. If you are at all social, you easily have two or three exchanges per walk, of which there are 4 to 5 a day.  Do the math…walking a dog can be your entire social life and an enviable one at that!

Sunday night while Leo was in surgery at Dove Lewis, I felt alone in my adopted city and longed for the yard around our former house in Oklahoma – a safe haven where Leo could chase birds and squirrels and his only brushes were with broken tree limbs.  But Leo is a city dog now and he has made his mark in his urban setting…perhaps more than me, The Whippet Lady, companion of Leo and his sister Bliss.

Leo will literally stop dead on the sidewalk if a passerby fails to acknowledge him.  There’s not an ounce of ego involved.  In every instance Leo has made eye contact, lifted his nose, raised his ears…he expects (and, I think, deserves) a return greeting.   I tug at his leash when the offender, a snob, has passed.  He quickly returns to his mission of greeting those ahead on the path.  I love this dog.  He has taught me so much.

It has long been observed that dogs and owners resemble each other.  I used to joke that I got Whippets in the hope I’d become lean, sleek and graceful – like Leo and Bliss.  Now I hope they will keep me sensitive, forgiving, accepting and trusting despite what comes on a Sunday in the park.

Always, Trix


Jul 20 2010

Sangria.

Thursday he would have been 88 years old.

“I’ll return to Tulsa early enough in July so we can celebrate mums’ 89th and your 88th together (as we often did).  And I tell you what, I’ll figure out how to make homemade Sangria for you,” I said to my dad during our last time together.

“I’d like that,” he said.  His voice was soft but his eyes clear and focused, as anticipation  gently swept over his gaunt face.  My dad and I:  We like our wine, perhaps a bit too much.  We like a party.

Why had I waited 10 years to make the offer?  During a visit to Sydney in late 2000 my cousin Michael’s charming wife Dora surprised my father with homemade Sangria on Christmas day.  The feast was at the home of my Uncle Ron and Auntie Dawn’s.  After stuffing ourselves we posed for photos by the pool wearing shorts, Christmas cracker paper holiday crowns topping our heads.  The trip was a gift from my parents to my sister and me and our families. I hadn’t been to Australia since 1985. The gift was more than generous, it was life changing.

Tonight in Portland I arrived at R. damore, a new art gallery in the Pearl owned by photographer & portrait artist Robin Damore.  Author Wendy Burden was talking about her book, Dead End Gene Pool.  Serving refreshments was a beautiful, engaging, Latin woman, just the type woman my Pop would have flirted with – shamelessly!  She put ice in a stemmed glass and poured a Sangria Roja for me.   When he drank red wine, much to the horror of all around him, Bob (JR, Pops…my dad) always asked for ice, unless he could help himself to some.  “About 3 cubes,” he’d tell me.  Around the table eyes would roll.  Winos can be such snobs!   Hosts, proud of their wine selections, sometimes seemed insulted.  Bob’s pleasure was never diminished by their attitudes.   He asked for and got what he wanted; there is a lesson in that, I think.

The sangria I enjoyed will soon appear in Portland gourmet grocery stories such as Zupan and City Market.  It’s maker, Maria Corbinos  is a woman who came to Portland to earn an MBA.  In no time her friends quickly encouraged her to bottle the sangria she made to share at gatherings. Her personality and business accumen earned her an Angel Award and is bringing her product to launch shortly. (Visit http://www.mividasangria.com/index.htm) As I listened to her story, I shared mine.

At the end of the evening I walked home with a bottle of Mi Vida Sangria Roja – a gift from Maria.  I also had three new business cards in my pocket belonging to new friends I planned to call later this month, after returning from Tulsa.  As I walked home, my father’s spirit filled my heart and lightened my step.  True, we won’t dine at Andina’s, the Peruvian restaurant I told Poppy was a must when he came to see my new home. The trip is one he didn’t make.  But my dad is here, he’s wherever there is goodness and a sense of adventure…  An absence of expectations but a hope for something special. That is his legacy. That is what I will play forward.

Always, Jabberwalkie (my dad’s nickname for me)

Medaris, Jesse Robert (Bob) of Tulsa passed away June 14th, 2010.  He was born July 22nd, 1922 in Denver, Colorado to Jesse Roy and Loretta Mae (Wolfe) Medaris.  He attended Hawthorne Grade School in Englewood, Colorado and graduated from Englewood High School in 1940.  In September 1941 he enrolled in Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.  World War II interrupted his engineering undergraduate work.  He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps for three years, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant as a navigator with the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific.  He was proud to have seen many of the islands in that theatre: New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, New Britain, New Guinea, the Halmahera and most of the Philippines.  After the war he completed his studies at Mines, graduating as a petroleum engineer in 1949. While at Mines, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Gamma Epsilon and Blue Key.

In May 1947 he married Dorothy Patricia (Pat) Shelley, whom he met in February 1945 on Bondi Beach while on military leave in Sydney, Australia. Marriage followed a nine-day, whirlwind romance and two years of long-distance correspondence by mail. The couple had two daughters, Shelley Anne Ricks and Tracey Elizabeth Norvell. Three grandchildren survive Mr. Medaris: Michael Andrew Ricks, Corrine Elizabeth Mueller and Clay Alexander Norvell. Also, great-grandson Andrew Paul Mueller and brother Francis Medaris.  His brother Charles Medaris and sister Ruth Medaris predeceased him.

Immediately following graduation from Mines, Phillips Petroleum Company in Eureka, Kansas and then Venezuela employed Mr. Medaris.  In 1954 he began a 15-year career with affiliates of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) in Venezuela, Libya and Indonesia. Outside professional assignments, the Medaris family also lived in Palo Alto, CA, Sydney, Australia and Houston, TX.  Mr. Medaris’ second career as Manager of the Studies Department for Crest Engineering led the family to Tulsa, OK.  His work with Crest took him to Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Siberia, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, the North Sea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada and other oil and gas-producing areas. When Crest Engineering relocated to Houston in 1985, Mr. Medaris remained in Tulsa, serving as Vice President of Crown Tech, Inc.  In 1987 he joined Fluor Daniels Williams Brothers as a consultant until his retirement in late 1993.

Mr. Medaris learned many languages during his travels. He was a quiet man with a quick, contagious laugh.  Somewhat a rebel and never a follower, he was well respected and tremendously admired by colleagues.  His gentle spirit made him an instant favorite with children and pets, and his love of life and travel gave him countless friends worldwide. He enjoyed golf, ice skating and worked tirelessly in the garden. During the past seven years he kept the residents at Inverness Village well supplied with the jokes and stories he collected from magazines and newspapers. His blue eyes always sparkled with life and mischief. His favorite song was “ Begin the Beguine,” but the ones his children and grandchildren will most remember are those he sang at bedtime: “You Are My Sunshine,” “Oh! Suzanna,” and “Red River Valley.”  While some might mourn the loss of this most lovely, gentle, caring, kind soul, who was also extremely bright, funny and handsome, his response would be this poem he especially liked:

I AM NOT THERE

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there; I did not die.

Author Unknown


Jun 29 2010

Ask me on the third.

“Big plans for the 4th?!”  he asked, with a Cheshire Cat grin.

“Ask me on the 3rd,” I muttered, my mouth full of dental instruments.  It was Monday. I still had my head cold, was getting a silver filling replaced and my Match.com guy was interested – in someone else.  Did I really want to think of my first major holiday alone?   No.

But today is Tuesday.  The table is set for a madcap, potluck dinner with seven dear friends – or at least six. The seventh guest is my co-host for the evening, someone who “friended” me on facebook while he was traveling in Athens last month with his nephew. We are meeting for the first time at 6 o’clock tonight, roughly the same time my overnight guest and her dog Sofi arrive.

He has already written two poems for me. See if you can find me in this one:

Tulsa is where she says she comes from.

Really, she comes from everywhere…

Always, has, always will.

Creating her own sense of place

Each and every whistle stop of her journey…

You’d think she’d settle down by now.

Continue reading


Jun 8 2010

Short note.

June 8th, 2010

Sometimes life goes at such a dizzying speed there is no time to reflect, to share – in other words to take proper note of the magic, the realizations, the treasures.  Stuffed in pockets, filed electronically, littering my desk, stored on voice records, floating around in my mind are notes and thoughts of a zillion things and observations I would like to post, which is to say share…to offer for comment.

I hope this short notes finds you all enjoying the journey.

As always, Trix

Postscript: As I write this, Nina Simone sings, “For Myself.” It makes me smile.