Saturday, May 02, 2015

Walking Alberta Arts In The Evening

We're in Portland... let's go walking, you and me...

Q: How did you find this gem of a neighborhood?

A: Pure dumb luck. I searched Airbnb for something in range of the airport, so I wouldn't have to stress-out over navigating in a new city, hoping to make my flight in a timely manner. And lo! Once again, Airbnb steered me right, and after an easy, pretty drive up from Albany, over rivers, through woods etc, I pulled up to the curb of a comfy and inviting house, street, and neighborhood: Alberta Arts District. I was so instantly attracted and intrigued, I didn't even check out my room, or bother taking my suitcase out of the trunk. I parked, then walked. And walked. And walked. And I took pictures, of course. Here is a lot of what I saw that evening.

Did they name the district, and then art came? Or was art always growing here, like the trees, the moss, the flowers, and then they realized, we have something special here, let's give it a name?

It has a Madison look, but it's funkier, grittier. It reminds me of San Francisco, but less business, more play. There's a hint of Leucadia, but Alberta Arts is bigger, deeper, with a stronger sense of community, purpose, like it has a certainty of its own worth, and destiny. It seems neither apologetic, nor defensive, and wholly available to be explored. So, I kept walking.

Anna Banana's... I was so delighted to see my friend's name on this eatery in the old Rexall Drugs. I was nostalgic for the corner drugstore I knew as a kindergartner, in Ramona, and happy to think of Anna B, who I imagine would very much enjoy this walk, too. In fact, many of the pictures I took were because of the people back home, who I was thinking of, missing, and was feeling quite certain would love this view, or those flowers, would enjoy that painting. In my head, I was talking to William, to Alex, Max, Maria, to Geoff, and my goats, the chicken's too, all of you... and saying, "Oh my gosh! Look! I wish you were here."

Would you believe? This might be one of my favorite pictures.

This is certainly my favorite ATM.

I will, shamelessly, try to incorporate this art into my life, somehow. I cannot speak for their tea, but the charm of these two signs convinces me it must be delectable, and good.

This is the band that Mister Washburn Foo drums for, when he can. He's a cool cat.

And the goats want to go to Pickathon, the Independent Music Festival... they're being a bit petulant about it, really, but can you blame them?

Okay. So. This might have been an emotional moment for me. Because, yes, I get strong feels about connecting dots, and stumbling upon truly exceptional discoveries, particularly ones that relate to creative pursuits! When I saw the name, {Collage} I felt a I-know-this-place tingle in my heart. It was, I suspected, the shop I heard mentioned by Amy Karol, Angry Chicken. When I went in, I was certain. Do you like stuff, to make stuff with?? This shop! It's your basic independent crafter-art-maker mecca with loads of inspiration and supplies, and things that make you say, "I need this. No. I need five of this. And maybe one more, to share." I got weak in the knees. I asked if I could take pictures. I asked if I could fondle the merchandise. Not really. But, you guys, please tell me you understand! It's a maker's candy store in there! You want all the flavors! I do think I showed admirable restraint, but not too much.

Every street off of NE Alberta led into the neighborhoods of houses, of front yards, and porches, of kitchen windows, and soft evening lights. People were coming home, sitting on their steps, greeting neighbors, dashing out. It was a pleasure to see so many flowers, and trees, that are new to me, like meeting friendly strangers... you don't catch their name, but they feel like they could be kindred spirits. I brushed my hand along the beautiful mound of thyme growing in the walled bed, and smelled home.

Back to my Airbnb base camp, to find my room, re-charge my phone, call my people. Then out, again, on a dinner quest!

I totally have a crush on cycling culture, and the cool people who travel on two wheels. This is me shouting-out to The Community Cycling Center, and my father-in-law, Phil, Georgia, Bill, Hans, Gretchen, Alison, Dan and Marla, Thomas and Dallas, Bob, Chuck W, Anna B... I think you all are brave, and genius, and strong.

My second episode of emotional feels, where I felt like I was brushing with fame, happened in the very local, very Comic-Con-esque shop: Screaming Sky Gallery. Art. Everywhere. And also in this shop, where I realized I was standing face-to-face with a wall full of Emily Winfield Martin. Both William and I are smitten with her art, her books, her world. She's a Portland person. {I am waving to her, in my mind, and she's waving back, because she knows I admire her stuff, and not in a creepy, overly presumptuous way, but just in a cool way. We could be friends, basically.}

I am such a dork. But in a cool way.

Okay. Dinner. This was easy. I asked in Screaming Sky for dinner suggestions, and he said, "Anywhere. Honestly. There are too many good choices." Then a another guy, a customer, chimed in, "Yeah, I am thinking about dinner, too, and it's just so easy, because everywhere is good." So, I walked outside, and tried to pick. Something unique. Something where it was smelling too delicious not to stop, and I found Petite Provence: warm and welcoming, good smells, interesting menu, and it turned out to be the right choice.

Do you ever feel like you might totally blow it? Gah! My one and only chance to have a "special" dinner, and be in a hip spot. And you want it to be tasty, not just "okay." But hopefully affordable, too. That was my state of mind. I am on an adventure. Out on my own... so rare. I've been walking for two hours, and smelling great foods, seeing obviously popular joints, and I want to find a memorable meal, something unique, and, and, and..." Yes, basically, way over-thingking it, and aiming for perfection. I am happy to say: I enjoyed my dinner. Salad. Pommes Frits a la Truffe... oh, yes... much better said in French, oui? There was live music, too. And from my window seat, I could observe the gentle rain fall, the people still out walking, the many dogs on leashes, and babes in strollers. I have happy memories of my special dinner.

Also: Portland has their own ketchup? On a hilarious, serious note: There were undeniable Portlandia moments. I did not double down, or lobster-ate, my dinner, but the couple that so passionately talked to the hostess for five minutes about "the gluten-free choices," and whether the hostess herself was "gluten-free," well, I would like to thank them, because they made me feel like an extra on the set. The ketchup was delicious on my Pommes Frits a la Truffe, by the way.

After dinner, I walked. I love Portland.

Window shopping. Do you think I could have that owl print shipped to me??

Like our Little Free Library, but everything.

I love Portland.

To finish the day, I sat on the porch, and watched everything. Rain, people, cars, flowers. And I wished you were there.


Anonymous said...

So the big question is...what did you buy in these wildly cute and quaint shops? If you say "nothing" I will faint straight away.


Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Only two things made me hold back:
1. lack of a bigger suitcase
2. lack of an income
But... you're right. How could I leave empty-handed?
I bought yarn for the flight home... crochet soothes my nerves.
I bought glass eyes, for William, because I knew he'd "need" those.
Let's see... there were some cool laser cut kits for making little wooden altar/niches. Hard to describe, but pictures, soon! I found blank metal dog tags... we have metal letter stamps, so I can hammer in a message. And... oh, blank canvas bags for decorating. Our town has banned plastic bags, and charges for paper bags. These new ones will be good to toss in the wash, and fun to customize. Next time I want to see Powell's Books, and Voodoo Donuts... restrain there will be impossible!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What fun purchases! Portland sounds like an artist's colony.


Linda said...

Since you are in CA, I am guessing you were in Portland OR? OR is a nice state to visit and guess live too. I have several friends located there. I particularly like Salem south of Portland. Now if you were in Portland ME, I do not know that state, one of the few in the USA I have not been to visit.