Friday, October 30, 2009

rightness of place

I'm loving my Friday mornings. Started working four 10-hr days in mid-September, and am now finally settling into a routine for the longer weekends. I "slept in" to about 6:30 today, made coffee and loaded the dishwasher while the coffee brewed; made the bed, tidied up the living room, and settled onto the sofa with my favorite mug 'o joe to listen to NPR and watch the light brighten outside my window. Contentment settles in.

Today I'm posting some photos of my new apartment. There is one corner with a view that satisfies some deep longing in me where I can stand for extended minutes, admiring the light coming through the windows, the mid-century style of the kitchen cabinets, and loving my great good fortune in finding my new home. I know that may seem ridiculous--the view is modest! But I am so happy here, and it seems I have been struggling to find peace for so long. Relief floods me when I walk through the door every night, and a positive perspective is restored. [Did I mention that 10-hour days are really long? And I walk home from work every night--about a 3 1/2 mile trek. So when I stagger through the door, I'm SO READY to be home!]

Anyway, isn't it funny how we can visit gorgeous, gracious homes, or see them on HGTV (oh, yes) decorated to a fair-thee-well for incredible quantities of money, and then look around our own unassuming nests and sense the rightness of place? The yearning for belonging to a place is one of my oldest emotions, something I can recall feeling from earliest memories. This new place comforts and challenges me creatively like I've not felt in a very long time. Here are a few little shots of my latest home, two have been post-processed with a watercolor effect, just because I thought it looked pretty.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

mmmmmmm, beachy...

My weekend at the coast with dear friend, Pat, resulted in a surfeit of beachy photos and the expected sunset shots (see slideshow). But here are a couple that signify that Closer to Home ethic I'm continually working out. Both were taken a few steps from the room that was our brief home in Lincoln City. 'Cause it's personal, you know?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Northrup farms

My coworkers, Anna, Todd and Laurie, started a small urban garden on the balcony/fire escape of the building where we work in Northwest Portland. The harvest is just about over, but the view from the hall is pretty magical~kinda reminds me of the view to Oz.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Petisco~Portugese for snack~is a comfortable and inviting bistro that opened in Irvington last winter. Only a few blocks from my apartment, I've passed it many times since moving back to the eastside. Looking for a light supper in the neighborhood the other night, I stopped at the menu displayed outside the entrance patio and decided to go in for a sandwich. And a sangria.

Oh, my. I may have stumbled upon a new extension to my living room. What a lovely place! The fare is excellent, tending toward sandwiches and appetizers but owner/chef, Michael MacFarlane expanded the menu recently to include weekend brunches and entrees for dinner service during the week. It's low-ceilinged ambience was so cozy, I felt right at home immediately. And the sangria is to die for. I have been back twice in less than a week, so probably should get my budget out and make some plans for a regular Petisco expense...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


NW 23rd Avenue is exploding with color, contrasting against the usual variations of charcoal sky so typical of October in the Pacific Northwest. I sit at my desk all day facing the computer monitor, away from the window, so when I get up to make a photocopy or check my mail, the views outside are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Seriously. NEON.

This is the time of year I always wish my skills as a photographer were up to the challenge of capturing accurately what my eye is seeing. But then, maybe all photographers share that dream? Here are a few shots representative of what the lens has grabbed so far this month.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yesterday wasn't as rainy as predicted, so I got some time outside on my break while the sky was overcast and the light was gentle, and shot around the "healing garden" of the metropolitan hospital where I work. Here is the shot I like the best.

There have been daily updates on protocols for dealing with the H1N1 virus, aka: swine flu. So far so good in the ancillary unit I work for, but other teams are reporting frequent absences due to having to care for sick kids at home. We were scheduled for a mass, hospital-wide vaccination today, but it was cancelled two days ago because the supplies could not arrive in time. There is a pervasive sense of urgency about nearly everything these days. Taking the time to go outside and concentrate on taking pictures felt indulgent, but necessary, somehow.

Actually everything feels indulgent but necessary to me lately. Paying off old debts while planning for new ones means I'm trying to find a way to make friends with ambivalence, an old nemesis. A few years ago I left a job that paid fairly well, but was soul-crushing and thankless. I like my current job better, and though it pays less, I get a greater satisfaction from my supporting role in a compassion-driven (if non-revenue generating) unit of a large Portland hospital system.

Moving from a tiny, jammed NW Portland studio apartment to a spacious, mid-century, two-bedroom apartment in my favorite neighborhood in NE Portland last month also feels indulgent and simultaneously necessary. It means that I'm budgeting even more carefully now and paying off old debts will take a little longer, but ultimately worth the delay in gratification, I'm sure. Now I have plenty of room for myself, family and friends; room for photography, cooking, books, movies, and poet/artists to drop in, and a little bit of grace to make a mess if I want to.

Speaking of messes: this month, I forgot my daughter-in-law's birthday for probably the 10th time in the 11 years I've been privileged to know her. At this point, I'm sure it's all she expects, but it always makes me feel awful. I'm getting a card into the mail today, Rachel, and all my embarrassed apologies go along with it, of course. I simply could not have asked for a better wife for my son, mother to my grandchild(ren?), gorgeous, accomplished and compassionate friend, or consistently-forgiving daughter-in-law. I adore you, Rach. No ambivalence there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meet the Neighbors

This morning I got up early to catch the light and wandered around for about an hour in the quiet outside, capturing the October harvests of my urban farmer neighbors. There were also some very arresting late dahlias and a single, gorgeous, aging rose.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

To Start With

I’ve mentioned several times to friends and in my other blog, Shots from the Curb, that I've been re-thinking my approach to blogging, and especially since my move back to NE Portland (all the way from NW Portland), I’ve wanted to center my writing and photography on more personal, even intimate subjects. Particularly appealing to me is the idea of featuring whatever catches my eye and imagination in the Portland neighborhoods I frequent.

Portland has a rich variety of distinct neighborhoods, apart from being a beautiful city to begin with, and so much of the Pacific Northwest is dramatically photogenic. Also, I’m a native to the dark, rainforested mists of the northwest and am deeply rooted here in Oregon. I’ve begun to want to express those aspects of my own nature influenced by belonging to this place. I love Portland. I love living here, love what the city offers to my creative impulses, and love my crazy collage of an extended family.

As a writer and reader I’ve noticed that the more specific the details of a story—even when far from my own experience—the more delight I have in recognition of shared perceptions. This blog has become my invitation to you to find those common elements we share while getting Closer to Home.