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.


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


Apr 13 2011

Bittersweet.

April 12th, 2011

If you are lucky enough to find a second love, be sure not to measure it by the first.

Be surprised… life is anyone’s guess!


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


Dec 27 2010

Exhale.

December 26, 2010

Most probably wouldn’t listen to a yoga class CD sitting bound in sardine pose on a packed Southwest Airlines flight between Phoenix and Portland during the holiday season.  Big mistake on their part.  Lifesaver for me.

We had pushed back from the gate only to return; mechanical problems – more delays.  I thought of work- tasks piling up while I flew between Tulsa and Portland on my monthly compute.  I thought of the house sitter who would have walked my two Whippets for the last time as I boarded and then gone off to work for eight hours, unaware of my dilemma.  A new version of Home Alone was surely in the making before I would land in PDX.  Bliss eats books when rattled.  And Leo?  Well, he does three-legged dog to make his statement.  As I imagined what was ahead, the two little boys under three years old seated next to me were warming their vocal chords for a grand aria.

Acquiring a yoga CD was my answer to maintaining my new habit of regular exercise while traveling for over a week each month.  Postal delays got the CD to me just in time for my return flight so there I was, plugged in and listening to a yoga class with my seat in its upright position.

The audio instruction began with breathing – deep, calming, audible breaths.  Even with the instructor announcing his name and the class first, a  giggle welled up in me.  I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing, which is too often shallow.  As I continued to listen to the CD  I was led at just the right pace by a confident voice walking me through the process of inhaling to “fill the belly” and “exhaling to empty.” Instruction and encouragement were delivered with a minimum of words. Just listening suggested the  pace gave time to work in each pose, gave time to breathe. Standing poses came next.  Still the focus was on breathing. Nothing was rushed.  I knew, for the first time, I had a chance at a home practice – a practice guided by a voice that seemed to be in the room, reminding me to breath first and foremost and giving enough pointers about the poses that I didn’t need a classmate nearby to follow (or mistakenly compete with).

As the teacher spoke of mind traveling, fantastic voyages and returning focus to the practice my three seatmates demanded attention.   The mom allowed me to hold the 1-year old.  I walked the aisle of the airline.  Together  he and I interacted with other passengers unable to resist the wonder in a 18-month’s eyes.  He was a doll! I enjoy traveling.  The last leg of my recent journey was especially nice.

A few minutes of yoga turned a delay around – letting me be in the moment completely, thoughtfully contributing.

Breath! Take it all in. And get yourself a CD!

Trix

www.bradkeimach.com and on facebook at Beach Yoga with Brad.


Nov 30 2010

A kiss.

November 30th, 2010

I froze.  One of the password challenge options was, “The name of the first boy (or girl)  that kissed you.”

How could I forget something like that? Yet, there I was – staring at my Mac, drawing a blank.  I have no trouble remembering the last time I was kissed and most days it doesn’t seem like the two were separated by (gulp) 39 years.  Isn’t it short-term memory that vanishes first?

Now that I was thinking about kissing, a new anxiety welled up inside me.  Would I, do I, remember how?  Would I poke someone’s eye out?  Would I break my nose, chip a tooth?

“It is like riding a bike,” someone said.

No it isn’t.  Riding a bike requires balance.  An unexpected kiss, even an expected one, can throw you quite off balance.  And that’s a good thing that feels pretty similar regardless of age, in my experience.

Maybe the later stages of life really do bare similarities to the first.  Here I am, like I was at almost 13, wondering if I’ll ever be kissed (again).  Not much I can do in the way of practice but perhaps work on the breathing part in yoga class. That should improve my balance  – in standing poses!

Always, Trix


Nov 13 2010

Marketing solo.

November 13th, 2010

I wanted a hamburger.   I didn’t want to walk next door to Bridgeport Brewery, pay a premium for a burger and sit alone.  As I recall it was a Friday.  Happy hour was underway.  I was more hungry than happy.   I made my way instead to Safeway.  In a brightly lit, refrigerated section of the store, I stood staring at a 2 1/2 # package of 85% lean ground beef.  I wanted a hamburger  – not 7 or 8  hamburgers.  I pushed my cart up to the meat counter.

Steve, the meat cutter, greeted me.  “How can I help you?”  he asked.  I explained that I was hoping to find single hamburger patties in the case.  There were none.

“I’ll make you one!” he said.

“You will?  Really?!”  I beamed.  A ready-to-cook patty without getting my hands cold and greasy!

Ever watch the movie Must Love Dogs? There is a scene involving a friendly butcher.  When asked by a customer for a chicken breast he opts to unrelentingly pitch the better value of buying a whole bird. His fate?  Sliced to ribbons.  Pushed to her limit, the shopper informs him,  “I am a divorced woman.   I live alone.  I eat most of my meals standing at the kitchen sink. Give me the chicken breast!”

I’ve done that – eaten standing in the kitchen, sometimes pacing.

Steve asked me, “How many ounces?  Tall or more flat?” (Sized to fit on an English Muffin, I decided, not wanting to buy 8 buns.)  “My wife likes her hamburger thick and juicy, so I make them tall.” I told Steve his wife was a lucky woman.

As I skipped off with my $.87 hamburger, I smiled.  Content with my purchase and amused by the line of singles forming at Steve’s counter.  Next time maybe I’ll buy the value pack and invite people over.

In Tulsa my son, Clay has had his own experiences shopping as a single chap.  I hope you’ll read his account at

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_156530951054013&id=156802497693525#!/home.php?sk=group_156530951054013&view=doc&id=156802494360192 (11.15 update: Not on facebook or trouble with link?  Essay included below)

Happy shopping, Trix

By Clay Norvell – Marketing

Beep…beep…beep…“Please place the item in the bagging area.”

I let out a labored sigh. Every damn time I’m at the “self checkout,” I’m told what to do by an automated female voice. It makes me wonder why it’s called “self” checkout if I am constantly demanded to “Please wait for assistance,” – really meaning the assistance of another human. It would almost seem that I cannot be trusted to bag my own groceries.

Beep…beep…

While I assume most people wander the store aimlessly, thinking of mundane issues, I find myself thinking about my future. Will I be buying frozen dinners for one at age thirty? Will I ever have the occasion to use two place settings every night, or am I destined to single servings for the rest of my days?

Reflections, aisle two…Reflections, aisle two.”

The grocery store is a strange place to have the thoughts about prospects (or lack thereof) of matrimony; if one day you may sire offspring, or if your boss may be offended if you asked for the day off “because it’s Ted Bundy’s birthday.”

Oops! Don’t forget the White Castle burgers!

I push my industrial sized shopping cart along slowly; seeing as how I always get the one that has that one wayward wheel that buzzes like a ripped windsock every five seconds. Add more embarrassment to my cart.

Still I have to stop and laugh about some of the products I see…

“Hey, I never thought about buying a metric ton of Chunky Monkey! What a bargain!”

Or:

“Oh look, there’s a kiosk of cold sore medicine…must be close to Valentine’s Day. That reminds me a lot of that commercial where the people looked really happy learning how to kayak…”

Once I navigate my way to the checkout line, the reality of everything sinks in – I’m just embarrassed of my lack of culinary knowledge! I think everything in my basket screams out, “He’s been single since 2006! He’s getting lazier! He eats peanut butter two times a day!” I veer over to the self check-out to avoid this paranoia-based judgment by the cashiers. I can just imagine what they’re thinking.

Beep… ”Yeah, this guy lives alone.”

Beep… “There’s someone who definitely has commitment issues.”

Beep… “He wants to be an author? Yeah, and I read Playboy for the joke page.”

Beep… “He looks like Boris Karloff’s lovechild.”

Perhaps I’m just delusional.

They may be thinking of kayaking lessons after all.

©. N.


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


Oct 16 2010

Add it up.

October 16, 2010

(Reading this is greatly enhanced listening to music links @ bottom of page – if you can multi-task!)

On days when it seems the good outnumbers the bad – DON’T STOP TO COUNT!

I was diagnosed this week with skin cancer (1), then arthritis (2) and wore my heart on my sleeve, when it might have been better closer to the vest (3). If less-than-wonderful things happen in three’s, would it be okay to ask for wonderful things in groups of 7 or 9, one of my other favorite numbers??  Three is becoming a wee bit of a crowd.

Speaking of numbers.  I took myself out for Chinese in Tulsa.  My fortune cookie read, “Your ability to find the silly in the serious will take you far. Lucky numbers 9, 13, 18, 24, 33, 46.  I went back to snag another cookie.  “Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.  Lucky numbers 18, 23, 32, 34, 39, 41.”  Woo Hoo!  Goal was to find one listing 52 (got a birthday ahead) but the 18th is right around the corner.  I am getting up early 10.18th to enjoy my double dose of luck!

The bad stuff, I figure, is the dues I gotta pay for the good.  Does that add up? My sister years ago, during one of the many times she tried to soothe my heartache or disappointment, insisted being happy all the time would be boring.  No it wouldn’t.  Bored is just not in my vocabulary and a charmed life would not invite it into my emotional 36 expressions. I think it’s a bit like the idea of heaven.  Great spin to put on dying.  Little wonder I gave up mass for Lent decades ago.

On a perfect 10.10.10 day (last Sunday) in a so-so warrior pose (and crescent pose) I was reaching for the stars to bring a bit more heaven to the beach. Stars, the way we envision them, are bright, pointy like things. One I snagged poked a bit of a hole in my tender heart but years earlier in another fun, unexpected, moment – dressed in flats and pants,  stacked up next to some hot babes (dressed differently) and facing an all-male judge panel (cruise ship experience – if you must know) I won the lip syncing contest prancing around to I Will Survive (my son Clay has since recovered from that experience of mom on the dance floor.)

The Trix is still here, dancing and singing and come the 18th, it won’t be just any Monday.  I got a loverly slice of heaven at a great price the last time I stretched.  I am reaching for the moon next time (and warming up at Sunday 9:45 yoga class in the Pearl)!

Look up to the sky tonight.  If you don’t see enough starlight, go where it is darker.  You will find there are more stars up there than you can stay awake to count. That is some kinda wonderful.

Postscript:  Two super people recently sent this info to me – This October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, all in one month.  It happens once in 823 years. Add it up!  And then November 1st is my birthday.

xo, Trix

Follow these 5 (!) leads to good things:

Loverly ~My Fair Lady: http://youtu.be/T-2CnRuk6Nk

36 Expressions ~ Funny Girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRbIjcKB_CY

Yoga ~ http://www.yelp.com/biz/beach-yoga-with-brad-santa-monica

Some kinda wonderful  ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RijxCw2NZH0

Add it up ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am8qrrZAtP4