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.

Friday, May 01, 2015

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
We've made a friend.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Red Barn, Purple Trees & The Joy of Discovery

Honestly, I was not going to post anything today. {I feel self conscious about over sharing, wearing out my welcome in the blogosphere.} Then, I went out to feed goats, collect eggs, visit hens... and the day! The day is so beautiful I had to pick up my camera. I've waited to see how bodacious and riotous the barn would look, beneath a shower of purple blossoms, ever since October, when the boys painted it Barn Red. Now, the jacarandas are in full bloom, and it is a sight to behold. The sky is a blue confection. Nothing edited or enhanced on these photos. You can see, right, why I had to share? It's too beautiful to be contained. And the there's the smell of cut grass, and warm straw, sweet alfalfa, and sun. The sun smells like things growing, heat, something coming... summer, maybe? I found three eggs, and hungry chickens. They don't know that chicks will be arriving, soon... their summer will be one of adjustments, and negotiations. The goats were reclining in the shade of their cottage, and in no hurry to get up, but they smiled at me, then came for their second breakfast. They looked content, and mild.

Really, I didn't intend to write anything for Chickenblog, but as long as we're here... we had waffles this morning, an extra effort sort of breakfast, because the high school had a late start. Max loves a good breakfast and a late start. How many articles and studies have you seen that tout the benefits of late starts for adolescents and growing children? Seems like they're always "discovering" that young people fare better when they can get more sleep. They might go to bed earlier, but then there's the other frequently reported homework crisis we face. And even though plenty of studies suggest that homework isn't always beneficial, or necessary, it still manages to get heaped on them, more and more. The day is too beautiful for further pondering, so I'll just say... late start mornings are marvelous, and I don't hold much account for heap loads of homework.

If I were the benevolent rule-maker I would say, Let homework be play, and discovery, bring back show and tell, and nap time. Schools should send everyone home with seeds, and dirt, with flutes, and drums, with wood and nails, and ask them to build something useful, something to give away. Homework could be for tending a community garden, taking a sewing class, walking dogs, beach combing, surfing, cycling, opening a book, composing a tune, reading aloud, dabbling, tinkering, wondering, asking, answering, practicing the art of learning by doing. Not every day. I know there are "important" things to do, and duties to perform, but it seems like there is a lot to learn, a lot to grow from, when we make room to find something unexpected.