Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Once More, With Feeling

I promise this is the last of my Portland posts, but seeing as I suddenly find myself back to the grind that sometimes is my life in the spring and summer, I'm going to relive my recent vacation times once more with feeling. When I'm really only getting through days by taking several deep breathing breaks throughout, it's nice to remember that there's ebb and flow to this madness, and I just jumped into the overflowing creek from the tranquil shores of Portland.

As much as I love my reality and try to remember that it's beautiful and inspiring,  I can't help but being a little nostalgic about a few things from last week's reality.

So long to wandering with intent and stumbling upon art and odd, interesting things.

So long to magnolias, cherry blossoms and the thousand yellow suns of my new favorite flowering plant.

So long to the sweetest little five-week-old, with wide open eyes and a love of stretching out in all directions.

So long to unhealthy breakfasts and forbidden coffee drinks.

So long to dry pavement.

So long (for now) to sunshine everywhere.

So long to city clothes.

So long to unpredictable and friendly fauna, and the kind that tries to rob your bagel from your hand.

So long to the f***ing squirrels.

So long to the endless pictures of flowers and magic hours.

Before I get too bogged down in glorifying tea houses, thai food, flowering tees and vintage frock stores, I should mention that I am trading all of these things to baby chicks, baby goats, kayaking with husband, wildcrafting season, building a garden, new challenges and long walks.  Well, once I'm done with work week from hell…so any minute now well return our regularly irregular programming.

How's your reality doing?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Talks

Did you know that cities have languages? That each one has their own individual parlance that reflects the mood, the civic order, the weak and strong points of a town. This language is not spoken (though of course there is always that), but rather written all over its sidewalks, electrical boxes, murals, street signs and on the walls of its abandoned houses.

I like collecting these writings wherever I'm visiting, because I feel like they offer insights into the layers of history and the true character of a city. Whether they be cool murals, illegal graffiti, signs from long ago businesses, or words chalked onto the sidewalk, the words of a city speak for themselves. Here's a choice few from Portland.


The cliche wall…

The cheapest form of advertising.

Kill your TV.

Mah-tu-re.

Post 93.

Where Freud drank.

Because milk is just ice-cream waiting for its true purpose in life to be revealed?

The essentials.


Screw highway signs.

Mayhym? Project Mayhym?


Public services.

A common mistake. Still, thanks Portland.

I will.

Got a favorite piece of street art? I used to live in London in the early days of Banky's reign and spotting the works of the then obscure artist was the best way to pass the time in East End. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Drink Coffee, Drink Whiskey

This trip, I haven't done enough of either of these two. Hanging out with a mama and four-week-old baby and with Piper and Mali working all the time, my time here has definitely been a little whiskey deprived, but I've made up for it with amazing green tea, flower ogling, chatting with random locals, and eating way too much Pizza and other treats.



While I won't deign to know PDX well enough to offer actual travel advice, having mostly hung out in about twenty block radius in the Southeast part of town, I did thoroughly enjoy a few local spots, enough in fact to visit them multiple times.

One of the awesome things about Portland for us Washingtonates, is that everything is much more affordable and there's no sales tax. I usually try to go to Oregon with an agenda of buying a few specific things I actually need.

My favorite vintage spot was for sure Artifact, a space with an eclectic mix of new, old, handmade and unexpected. Perfectly curated, yet entirely un-curated seeming, it's a really sweet place for a treasure hunt. I found quite a few adorable dresses, some useful household items, and ended up chatting with one of the folks who run it and they expressed interest in selling my jewelry. Expect to see more F&N in your neighborhood Portland readers!

I really couldn't be more thrilled with that development.

Though I spent a lot of time adventuring around on my own, I did have a couple of really sweet guides to the city.


It was so fun to see these two gals, who let me crash at their sweet pad and took me to good places to eat and talk about anything and everything.


It almost made me wish I was in my twenties in a new city again.


I was super impressed by how much focus these guys still have on their interests, their own thing, in spite the pressures of city life, new jobs, new people and surroundings. It'll be really exciting to see them pursue their crafts in a bigger setting.


Drinking tea, watching Piper work with wool, hanging out on the couch was a good antidote to meandering the city, people and flower watching, the overwhelming newness of it all.


I always feel really inspired by new scenery and get tons of ideas from surroundings unlike my own. Often, I go to places without guidebooks, or an agenda, a set schedule, or a list of -must-see things. I like to find sights for myself, to feel like I'm really exploring, not just following a lead, a pre-approved itinerary. Traveling this way sparks your imagination in a different way, and there are no disappointments, no grief over how small something seemed in reality, how lackluster. There's just wonder over all you do get to see.

And now I'm excited to head home to put those ideas into good use...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All Of The Things


Sorry about the interruption of Portland walks and Portland talk, but Erin's post from yesterday, got stuck in my brain.

So here's ten random things about me:

1. I love swimming in cold water.

2. Almost no one has ever seen, or even heard of my favorite movie.

3. I'm ambidextrous, but in this way where there's certain things that are equally hard for me to do with either hand. Maybe that's just non-dextrous. I write with my left, but do almost everything else with my right.

4.  In the past I've had hypersomnia, which is the opposite of insomnia and means that I can potentially sleep as much as I'd like to. The longest I've ever slept was 32 hours.

5. I was born with a lot of hair on my head and a tooth in my mouth, a sure sign of a witch in the old days.

6. The phone terrifies me, I screen my all of my calls,  most of the time I don't pick it up and almost never check our messages.

7. I'm an only child, but I have a sister.

8. I can speak French when I'm sufficiently inebriated. Well, at least I think I can.

9. I love mountain ash/ rowan trees.

10. I was raised in the theatre, dah-ling.

How about you?


Friday, April 11, 2014

Every Blossom Girl



Paris maybe burning, but remember when I said that Portland was blooming? I was not kidding. For a city it has an amazing variety of flowers all over the place. People seem to take great pride in their blooming gardens and flowering trees. Each morning and afternoon as I'm walking around the neighborhoods, I see residents weeding, planting and chatting with neighbors about their flowers.


Definitely more of a vegetable garden kind of gal myself, all these flowerbeds still hold a lot of allure. Meandering in the streets of Portland has a special magic, with rhododendrons, Growing Blaze roses and magnolias reaching onto the sidewalk to grab your attention. I spent an entire afternoon zigzagging between 36th and 43rd, from Powell to Division, just photographing the blossoming wild.

There is this sticky lovely smell in the air, emanating from every yard, the trees that arch over the roads.  Countless bugs and butterflies buzz the flowers.


It seems like the ideal city for keeping bees, because at least in this season, there appears to be infinite forage (though bees need forage for the whole season), and I was a little puzzled by why I was seeing so few of them, until I came across a huge patch of rosemary on a one yard, literally crawling with bees, and realized that with such an abundance, they are simply as choosy as the next person when deciding where to eat here.



This spring I seem to be overly enamored, for the first time in a long time, with pink, so excuse me while I photograph every pink flower in sight.



And every red flower while we're at it.

I'm particularly obsessed with redbuds, bleeding hearts and the gorgeous, paper-y yellow flower shown here on the very top, identified by a friend as a "Kerria Japonica Pleniflora". Each morning a purposefully walk by the house one my way in who's yard it grows, and the owners much think I'm a mad stalker for stopping by their gate every day.



This abundance of flowers in the spring is something I do miss from city life, though I never lived in one as flower-full as Portland. In the country, the flowers, other than short-blooming fruit trees, come later, in the summer.


I remember when I first moved to London, where magnolias bloom around March, I was absolutely floored by their appearance, how they transformed the drabness of the buildings and the gray English weather completely.





Not that all the yards here are an absolute groomed display. There are plenty just run wild with dandelions and forget-me-nots. I walk by them equally in awe, thinking of the ease of dandelion wine making, and the crowns that one could weave.


It's just wonderful to see so much life in a place that's still mostly concrete and asphalt. And now I'm going to head out and do some more blossom-viewing, mug in hand, breakfast waiting at the end of some unknown street.

Life and beauty, intertwined completely...

Favorite spring flowers?