Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Begin Again

I think it's time to come back to this blog. Not because it's important, but because every so often I have something I want to discuss deeply with myself, and it works well for me to do it here. If I write something I know others might read, it forces me to take better care with my words and my thoughts. It helps me sort out that random blah blah blah that runs through most human heads most of the time. 

Some people meditate. I'd rather eat dirt. Some people journal. I find that an excuse to be too self-indulgent and whiney, and something that must be hidden from others. Too exhausting, on many levels.

So here I am, in Portland, in winter, thinking deep thoughts, or just going for a walk to see the Christmas lights downtown. Hang out here with me while I process some stuff, if you want, or not. This is actually all about me, and if it benefits you in some way, well I think that's just lovely.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Another Layer

The whole idea of the move from Taos to Portland was to streamline and simplify our lives. It's working. And I'm always on the lookout for things that can be added or subtracted to make life easier. Actual things that are allowed in have to be some combination of beautiful, fun, practical, and useful. They also have to fit nicely in our 571 square foot studio apartment. Other things, like my blogs for example, have to be fun to write, and at least have some potential of giving me something in return for the time I spend on them.

You see where I'm going with this?

The two food blogs, Positively Vegan and Eating Vegan In Portland are where my heart goes to sing and dance. I feel that they're my "work," or part of it, and my way of reaching out to the world. I even make a bit of income from them, and plan to expand on that in the near future.

I have a new jewelry product to offer! This is fun for me. After all those years of bead making, I still don't miss the glass one little bit, but I do still love to make jewelry. Hitting it with a hammer is especially satisfying, and that was never a god idea when working with glass. But silver work is perfect for my new tiny space, it loves the hammer, and it has always been my favorite metal to wear. I'm making these simple stamped discs with words like Vegan, Love, Happy... just about anything that will fit on a 3/4 inch circle. You can order them on my website, and on the PV Blog.

This blog, however, is for fun, and for only a handful of people who take the time to read it. It takes a lot of my time, it will never generate income, and most often it's an expanded version of things I've already posted on Facebook. I get no comments here, and no feedback (well, almost none), and I don't have any idea who's reading this, if indeed anyone is. So what's in it for me? Well...

Now you really know where I'm going, right?

Yep. Long Way Home is closing down. Again. If you're on Facebook, and you think you'll miss me here, befriend me over there, click "follow," and stay tuned for my ongoing adventures in Portland and beyond. If you're not on Facebook, well, catch up, would you? It's fun. And it's where I'll be if you need me.

Thanks for reading along here. Maybe I'll pick it up again someday. Until then, I'd love it if you'd read my other blogs and help me promote them. It helps. It matters. It's how I'll make this whole thing fly. See you 'round! I have a city to explore!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My First Birthday in Portland

If it seems like all we do is play here, well, it's kind of true. Sure, we're piecing together just how we'll support our fun new lifestyle, but mostly we're exploring and enjoying it all for as long as we can get away with it. Last week was my birthday, so of course there were festivities to be observed.

We started with breakfast at the awesome Vita Cafe on Alberta St, followed by a cupcake pickup for later at Back to Eden Bakery. Then we sat down and ate even more cupcakes ay Petunia's. Don't judge me. Later we caught a river cruise along the Willamette, followed by dinner with our friends Jim and Lani, and their granddaughter, Chelsea. What a day! It was a great first birthday here, thanks to Portland, and all the players!

Next I'm off to San Jose to celebrate my Dad's 85th birthday. My family is opposed to having their pictures posted on my blogs (even though they never read a word I write...), but maybe I can sneak a few in next week. We'll see. Know I'm having fun... and maybe even getting things done. xoxo

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Groovin' to the Blues by the River

We spent (most of) the 4th of July weekend just a 10 minute walk from home, at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival. We're not big on crowds, but since it was so close to where we live, it seemed kind of wrong not to participate. Besides, it benefitted the Portland Food Bank, and you know how I like to get people fed.

It was an amazingly well-organized festival, except for one little glitch on Friday, when they let so many "day people" in that the fire marshall closed the gates to re-entry in the afternoon. This meant that folks like us, who paid a bunch of money for a 4-day pass had to wait in line to get back in if we went home to feed the dogs, while others with ten bucks or a couple of cans of food to donate streamed in and settled in for the fireworks. Not cool, and I imagine they'll be hearing about it from plenty of people. We somehow managed to slip right back in though, thanks to a sweet volunteer who didn't really know the rules. Oh well!

Other than that, and the crushing crowds on Friday, there was a lot to like about the whole shebang.  There were four stages - two at each end of the huge grassy area, and two tucked back into another smaller, quieter area. We preferred the small stage energy to the booming hillside, but each had its merits. I also loved that it was a completely non-smoking event, with smoking areas well away from the seating. Crowd-herding was better than I've seen in some places, with fenced off walkways where standing around was not allowed. Volunteers everywhere kept things flowing smoothly, and there was even a big booth where volunteers filled water bottles with good filtered water for free. Gotta love the volunteers!

There was a wedding onstage between acts. This couple met at the festival seven years ago. Sweet!
The music was terrific, which ought to go without saying. Lots of blues, swing, zydeco, funk, and more. And acts like Joan Osborne, Boz Scaggs, Maceo Parker, and Curtis Salgado filling in for Gregg  Allman. Rather than try to see and hear everything, we just wandered around and took our chances, knowing it would all be good, and it was. We actually took Saturday "off," after feeling sort of damaged by the heat, volume, and crowds of Friday. By Sunday we only felt the need for a short stay, so went in the afternoon and hopped from shady spot to shady spot, just relaxing and taking in whatever happened to be there.

As it turned out, my favorite band of the weekend was the last one we saw, and one I wasn't familiar with. Dumpstaphunk, with Ivan Neville was so much fun I pulled up my last remnants of energy and danced with the rest of the crowd. We didn't stay till the close of the festival. Enough was enough, and besides, the dogs missed us.

Will we go back next year? Well... I'm thinking not. But I'm glad we did it once. It was a great way to spend our first (and maybe not last) 4th of July in Portland.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Day at the Beach

It doesn't often get very hot here in Portland, but when it does, a lot of people head for the coast if they can. This week when the temp was predicted to reach 97, we joined the line of traffic and made our way to Cannon Beach. In the time it used to take us to get to Santa Fe from Taos we can be at the beach. That means we can pop over there whenever we want to, and I like that.

It was hot there too for a while, but not as hot as Portland, which did get to 97. And you know... it's the humidity that gets you. The coast was at least breezy, with a little bit of mist, and of course a whole lot of water to cool off in. We spent the day walking up and down the beach with the dogs, with a break for a picnic in the sand, and another for margaritas at a little place in town later in the afternoon.

By late afternoon we started to wish we could stay the night, and scoped out a couple of dog-friendly hotels for next time. Every time I go to the beach - any beach - I wonder why I don't live there. Really. If the whole "Portland courtship" doesn't work out, I'm going to try to talk Rick into giving the coast-of-somewhere a shot. I mean how many of these moves do we have left in us? Maybe a bunch, but that's not what we want. We want to find Home. Maybe it's in Portland, and maybe it's somewhere at the beach...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

DC Made Me Dizzy

My whirlwind trip to Washington DC last week was both exhilarating and exhausting. The program I attended with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was all I'd hope for, and actually a whole lot more. I came home loaded with information, both in my brain and in my suitcase, and now I have to spend time going back over all of it and really assimilating what I plan to teach.

I had imagined myself traveling up and down the west coast, mainly Portland, Seattle, and San Jose, teaching Food For Life classes in all three places, since I'm in all of them often. It looks likes I'll be mostly confined to Portland though, since there are FFL Instructors all over the country (and the world!) and we're pretty much required to stick to our own home area. It makes sense, but it's also kind of disappointing. Maybe I can get them to work around this little rule, since I've found that there are no classes being offered in Seattle, and the closest classes to San Jose are over in the Santa Cruz area. Portland is wide open too, which kind of surprises me. We'll see how it goes. Contact me if you want a class and can't find one! I'll do what I can to make it happen for you.

Dr Neal Barnard spoke to the group. Amazing man. A new hero of mine.
There was more time for fun than I expected on my trip. I made some friends and we all ventured off in the evenings to explore and eat and see some sights. I'd been to DC once before, but it was a very different experience for me this time. Not as hot for one thing (we went in August last time... ugh), and because I stayed in a different part of town than the last trip I got to see a whole different terrain. A friend had given me a subway pass, which I used a couple of times. What I quickly realized though is that I preferred to see where I was going and what was along the way. A train in a huge underground tunnel is cheap and fast, but you end up missing a lot.

I learned about Uber this past February in Seattle. My kids know everything, which is great because I've grown tired of faking it. When they tell me I need some new technology, I believe them. Uber is one of those things I might not have found on my own, but I'm really glad to have that little app on my phone now. It's like a cab only better. More like a personal driver who is always on call (although it's always a different person), and always shows up in just a few minutes. You request a ride through the app, get a confirmation with a picture of the driver and his license plate number, and a text or call as he's arriving. Your credit card is on file and billing is automatic, including the tip. It's always cheaper than a taxi, the cars are nicer, and I find the whole Uber experience to be a good one. Besides, since I cheaped out on the hotel, which turned out to be not that great, and not at all convenient, I felt justified in spending a few extra bucks to get around.

I suppose there was once a canopy over the door.
The view from my window, directly across the street. No, a wake up call was not necessary.

Probably needless to say, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in my hotel. The exception was the wonderful little Italian place next door, where I sat out on the patio just before closing two nights in a row and had a glass of wine and some of the best bread I've ever eaten. Just a little snack as I avoided going to my room. 11:00 still felt like 8:00 to my body - much to early to go to bed. On my second visit to this lovely little place, a nice man from Albania cleared my table and chatted a bit. Everyone who worked there was Italian or at least from that general part of the world. They were all so nice, and I almost felt like I was on vacation in Italy. I told Rick later that the Albanian man made me feel like Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun, when he bowed slightly and told me (in a very nice accent) that I was "Very beautiful lady." He wasn't hitting on me. I'm pretty sure those days are over. It's just so nice that there are men in the world who feel comfortable complimenting a woman, no matter how old she is.

Little side stories aside, I saw a lot of the usual suspects in DC, and really enjoyed the whole tour of monuments and views.

I'm not sure how this picture happened, but I like it. See how the stripes in the flag are see-through? I like to imagine it's a magical message, foretelling a coming transparency in our government. You never know.
While standing around the base of the Washington Monument, someone handed us extra tickets to ride to the top. I didn't even know you could go to the top until that happened. I also didn't know that there had been an earthquake in DC a couple of years ago, which damaged the monument. It's a free-standing stone structure, held together only by its own weight. It reopened to the public just a couple of months ago, and tickets are hard to get. We were just in the right place at the right time!

This is one small vignette on the wall of the World War II monument. So beautiful.

And then there's Mr. Lincoln. Sigh... I love hanging out with him. Even with all these people it felt like a holy place.
Dinner on the last night was at a terrific Ethiopian place called Meskerem. We'd read about it and decided to Uber our way over there from the Lincoln Memorial. We had a fun ride with a driver who had grown up in DC, and was happy to point out interesting things along the way. At the restaurant, I felt like I was back in Ethiopia. It was wonderful, and the food was even better than any I had in Ethiopia. I have no idea what any of the dishes are called, except for the injera, which is a wonderful tangy, spongy, soft flat bread made from teff, the tiniest grain in the world. It's kind of like a big, thin, sourdough pancake that you tear apart and pick up bites of food with. No forks were offered, and we didn't need them.

The lighting was not great for photos, but I had to try. This was an absolutely fabulous meal.
So I'm home now, and this brings me to the "dizzy" part of the title of this post. I woke up the day after my return to find that every time I moved, even a little bit, my head would spin. I was afraid I was coming down with something, or that I'd injured myself when I fell off a bench in a Chinese restaurant and hit the concrete hard, flat on my back. (I was not drunk. It was a freak thing that was very embarrassing and painful and allowed the entire place to see my underwear.) I emailed someone that day and said that I'd taken in so much over those few short days that "my head was spinning." That's when it hit me. It was information overload, for real. I took it easy all day and was fine by that evening. But even now, several days later, I'm easing into all I need to do to actually get classes together and start teaching here. It's a lot, which is great because it means I'll have a lot to offer. I just need to take my time and make sure I'm keeping up with myself.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Off to DC

I'm posting early this week. It's going to be a busy one! I'm leaving early tomorrow morning for Washington DC, for the much anticipated PCRM Food For Life training. If you're unfamiliar with PCRM, they are the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, and they are all about prevention and reversal of disease through plant based diet. The program I'll be attending is designed for nurses, dietitians, and other health care professionals, but somehow I got in too! There was a pretty extensive interview process, and only 60 people were chosen this year. It's not an on-going thing that can just be signed up for. I'm really rather proud of myself.

This is exactly what I want to be doing in this part of my life - helping people who care about their health change their diets in simple, fun, tasty ways. I hope to soon be teaching lots of cooking classes here in Portland, as well as up and down the west coast. I'll talk more about it after I get back, but if you might be interested, drop me an email. I do a lot of traveling from Seattle to the Bay Area and would love to work in some teaching gigs along the way.

So wish me luck and happy travels! I'm going to navigate DC all by myself, which makes me only a little bit nervous. Mostly I'm excited to jump into this big adventure! See you next week with a full report.

And by the way, Portland remains amazing. xoxoxo

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Seattle By Train

We knew Portland would be a great "hub" for us, positioned so conveniently between our families in California, Nevada, and Seattle. We've already seen several of these favorite people more in the last month than we used to in a year or more. I love it because it's no longer hard to say good-bye, knowing it could be a long time until the next visit. Now we just say "see you soon," and it's true.

I took the train up to Seattle last weekend, mostly to visit my daughter, because she invited me. But I was also lucky enough to get in some time with my son and his lovely wife, as well as my dear friend Sally. The train ride is inexpensive, almost as fast as driving, and much more beautiful a route than the highway, following the Columbia River much of the way. I plan to do this as often as I get the opportunity!

On the train.

Waiting outside the Seattle station, next to Safeco Field.

With my kids, Lauren and Danny. Danny works at Tesla. Yep, he's cool. So is Lauren.

Sally is one of my favorite people on this world, and probably beyond.

Walking around downtown with Lauren, we passed an old favorite landmark, the Pink Elephant Car Wash.

Lauren gave me a quick tutorial on how to rent a Car2Go. I have a membership, and now I know how to use it!

Lunch at the really big feet of the Space Needle before I caught my train home to Portland.

Less than 4 hours later - with someone else driving - I was back in Portland, just about a mile from our apartment. Everything in life should be this easy.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let's Dance

I took a dance class at Bodyvox. It terrified me. It was not really a dance class. It was a stretch class in the form of dance. It was fun. It was scary. I felt awkward. I enjoyed it. I hated it. I wanted to hide. The mirrors made me very uncomfortable. I cried at the end when the instructor was kind to me. I'm trying to give myself permission to never go back. I'm also knowing that I need to go back.

What's making me so bunched up and creepy-weepy is the fact that I'm the New Girl. And not in a cute Zoey Deschanel sort of way. I'm almost 57. (Sheesh, how did that happen?) I've been in full stress mode for several months. I've gained weight. I feel lethargic and achy. Some days I sleep until almost 10:00! OH. MY. GOD. I am so not myself. And then, why would I be? I'm in a new city, where I know only a couple of people. I have no idea where my place is, where I fit in, what I'm supposed to do, or how I'm supposed to find it. I do not always like being the New Girl. I do not like all this not-knowing.

And then... I also know that this stop on Earth is brief and temporary and not all that important in the Big Picture. I know there's so much more than what we're living here. I know that if I let myself just relax a little bit I'll remember that this is all supposed to be fun. And it can be. I mean really, what's the worst than can happen? I do some clunky dance moves in the process of working a whole lot of crappy mental junk out of my physical body? Or I embarrass myself by crying in the face of kindness? Or I quit the class and move on to something else? It doesn't matter! What matters is that I keep going, keep trying, keep opening the doors to What Might Be Waiting For Me. How can I know if I don't give everything a chance?

I feel like I'm too old to be the New Girl. But here I am. New everywhere I go, with everyone I talk to. It's exhausting. So what? I'll sleep. A lot. And I'll go out there again, and I'll find where I belong, and who I belong with. A Movement Class forced me to moved my body in fun ways I haven't moved since I was 12 years old. Of course I sucked at it! And also, of course there has to be some muscle memory in here, waking up, smiling, and thanking me for the chance to move in old-new ways.

I could play it safe and sit in a chair, or I could dance. Dance with Portland, dance with Life, dance in a class... I think there's only one good option.