Sep 14 2012

Music of the Street

Much as I relish music, I often find hours have gone by without the equivalent of spinning an album.  Is that the expression?  Or should I say, plugging into my iPhone music app, clicking on Pandora, streaming from… whatever. You get the audio visual.

Today temps in my flat at the Wyatt reached 80 degrees as the sun began to set to the west.  I closed up the windows and doors that I daily thrill to having flung open year round and I set both thermostats to COOL. 

The silence was deafening.My experience at home, at work tremendously altered.I felt there was a barrier between me and all the life outside my windows.

I cannot begin to imagine how I will miss the symphony of sounds of Portland’s Pearl District. There is the clink of silverware on a plate 11 stories below at Bridgeport Brewery, the jarring sound of a zillion glass objects  far, far too early in the morning being picked up and dumped into the trash trucks retrieving recycling at the ASA high-rise just to the south.  The barks of not-so-patient pups tethered outside Safeway or one of many neighborhood spa/salons, the engaging beat and musical strains of entertainment  from Pink Rose on Thursdays that pleasantly drowns out any attempt in my living room to follow a crime drama on TV. And the regular bosorius arrival of the Pedalongue party bike making the microbrewery rounds.

And did I mention the scents?  The dryer vents from other units that suggest a tropical island close at hand, the aroma of bacon cooking this morning that positively drove me to distraction while I ate fruit and Greek yougurt at my desk.

During the commercial breaks on Pandora a Fred Myers Grocery ad asks, “Have you ever woken up and said, “I live in the most wonderful place?”

“YES!” is my answer.  And then there are the sunsets. Oh…and street cars!


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.


May 13 2011

Take a look.

May 13th, 2011

As the song goes, “I have always been a woman who arranges things.”

Last Sunday in Tulsa, I moved a sofa bed.  I was very mindful of how it would look and function in the room in a new location but my real goal was to improve my view – from the sofa.  A handful of minutes and a dozen or so feet to the west and my daily outlook was radically changed simply by a more expansive, engaging view – seen from the sofa.

Three months after settling in Portland, I moved for a killer view and more balcony space.  No one would argue that it wasn’t 180 degrees of pure “WOW!” Floor-to-ceiling 11-foot windows 15-stories above the ground in the Pearl District offered sweeping views of the Willamette River, several bridges, mountains in the next state, the downtown skyline… and all the trains, ships, streetcars, planes, cars and pedestrians that crisscross the city regularly.  Rainbows were a regular, magical bonus after frequent showers. I sat for hours on the balcony, mesmerized by sunshine, clouds and countless things that drew my eye, ignited my imagination – even enchanted by birds riding the wind within arm’s length.

Yesterday I paused outside a nearby condominium building with marketing information posted near the entrance. I smiled reading it.  Accustomed to seeing information about square footage of living space, balcony area, I had yet to  read of “more square footage of window space than a typical Pearl District shotgun style studio.”  I was sold!

For years I was, I thought, a savvy business traveler.  I sat in aisle seats on airplanes. Now I will walk to the last row on a plane to snag a window seat. It has many rewards.

“When you fly into Portland, always sit on the left side of the plane,” a Tulsa doctor told me a few years back.  He is both a pilot and a frequent Oregon visitor.  “You’ll see Mt Hood on a clear day,”  he promised.  Indeed you will!

When taking off westward from Tulsa late one afternoon I enjoyed an extended, seemingly endless, very breath-taking sunset.  It was riveting.  Another time a Southwest pilot called passengers’ attention to the Grand Canyon below us.  It brought tears to my eyes. I hadn’t seen the canyon since I was six years old.  It still looks HUGE!

Try this: for a few minutes today lift your gaze from you iPhone.  Be in the moment with what is around you.  Take a look, a long look. I am willing to bet you will see something new and quite wonderful.


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