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


Jul 16 2011

Clues.

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.

Trix


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 23 2011

The guy next door.

January 23, 2011

“You are the closest man,” I said, I think.

It was a brief encounter with a neighbor.  The lighting was low.  He had eyes to triumph “old blue eyes,” and everything that went with it – including a wife I know and rather like.

From my freshman year at the University of Tulsa I have been described as “single-minded.”  I am.  Ditto when it comes to my two roommates, both Whippets. Try keeping up with a sight hound capable of 40 mph when attractive prey is spotted nearby. Some dogs cannot learn new tricks.  I am resigned to being one of them.

I was in the moment – focused on what I needed and prepared to knock on more doors because I was cooking with gas. Why must it be difficult when you just want to cheat a little, tiny bit?

Hours earlier I had done my time working on upper body strength doing sun salutations in yoga class.  There I was, nonetheless, on a neighbor’s doorstep with a jar of Arrabbiata sauce I couldn’t open by myself.  I don’t even know what Arrabbiata sauce is but it sounded spicy and I like spicy.

I entertain on a budget (with greatly diminshed cooking skills). I was making a huge pot of red sauce .  As I sautéed garlic, capers, scallions, wine, artichokes, I thought, “What is a jar of store-bought Arrabbiata sauce between girlfriends?”  Wasn’t the dinner more about talking, sharing – all that good bonding stuff even us A-types do?!

Say what you will about shortcuts.  I am 52. Simmering tomato sauce is but one thing I want to accomplish on a Sunday afternoon.

Your girlfriends will appreciate the big part: you organized the gathering of busy friends.

Always, Trix


Jan 13 2011

Baggage.

January 10, 2011

“Is there something in the side pocket you can take out to lighten the bag?”

I avoided eye contact with the fellow asking the question.   He had watched me stuff my lined, hooded raincoat in the zippered compartment. I didn’t want to carry it on the plane, across half the country – the long way.  Nor I was in the mood for someone who lived excruciating by the rules.  Twice a month I weigh in for flights with two bags, often each just under 50 pounds.  Last Monday I arrived with one 52-pound suitcase.

Charming the agent was out of the question.  A fowl mood was lurking just below my uncharacteristic, neutral, quiet, matter-of-fact demeanor.  I was worn down by two days with energy-draining people, the type whose complaining isn’t an occasional venting but a character trait.  I had wasted energy, time and breath with both, arguing the half full glass wasn’t leaking.

Many hours earlier a telephone call had woken me at 5:30 am from a dream of being tossed around in a vast, dark, bottomless ocean.   Two men were near me (in the dream, not in the bed). We were all swimming forward which seemed to me to be further out to sea; no land was visible.  I had paused to tread water, to question our direction (the dream mirroring my waking life isn’t lost on me).

The men had more reason for concern.  We were in shark-infested waters, they explained. We maybe had minutes until all was lost. I challenged this conclusion just as I’d foolishly argued with my weekend naysayers.  Once awake I wondered if the swimmers or the sharks were my two grumpy companions of late.

In the movie Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert is nicknamed “Groceries” by someone she meets on her quest.

My nickname might be “baggage.” I am not a pack rat. I regularly edit, delete and prune.  But I have always been a homemaker, even during my heaviest travel years.  An itch to travel, to economize is now rarely more than a thought away.  I have two dogs, heavy furniture and treasured possessions.  Each unique and irreplaceable, like the many people in my life.  I have been trying to travel with all of it, everyday.  It is time to maybe store possessions and distance myself from people that weigh me down and don’t make me happy.

Lugging baggage stops now.   Moving forward is about refueling, less about being grounded.

Suddenly it makes sense. Fifty pounds of baggage is the limit if I want to fly.

Lighten your load!

Always, 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



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/


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.


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