Monday, May 26, 2014

Getting Around

We have a car, just one to share, but because parking is $125 a month, and public transportation in Portland is just dandy, we're going to consider selling the car at some point. That's a big one, letting go of one's own wheels, so no rushing into it. First we'll take some time to explore letting the streetcars, busses, and Max trains drive us around.

Our first big trek took us all the way out to the zoo, which we both had really mixed feeling about. Vegans aren't supposed to support zoos, and I'll talk more about that over at Positively Vegan at some point. For now I'll just say that I loved the zoo so little that I wasn't inspired to take even a single photo. The transportation experiment however, was most encouraging. So much so that we hopped right back out there the next day to do some shopping.

This is kind of a small downtown Target, but it's right on the streetcar line, and we find most of what we need there. For the huge store we can drive out to the mall near the airport, where we can also visit Ikea, and find a good vegan lunch in at least a couple of places.

Who watches Portlandia? They even put a bird on it... ;o)
The streetcar is just a block away from our door, and for $1 each we can ride to our heart's content for 2 hours. A $5 day pass is just that, and all day ticket that gets us on all of the public transit going all over town. It's rather magnificent. Our first stop was Target, where we picked up a bike lock for Rick, and a few other little things. After grabbing coffee at Starbuck's in the Target lobby -  where they're test marketing coconut milk, hooray! - we walked to Whole Foods for dinner provisions, then caught the streetcar back home from the stop nearest Powell's Books and Anthropologie. 

I know a lot of people are anti-Starbucks. There are loads of really good privately owned coffee places around, but we've been asking Starbucks to offer a plant-milk other than soy for years. Now that they're finally considering it, we're supporting the potential addition of coconut milk by sipping there often. They really should have a punch card.

Powell's City of Books is doing some remodeling. It's going to be better than ever, and no more leaky roof!
Portland is definitely a shopping friendly town. It would be easy to get carried away, but we were careful to bring only as many bags as we could carry home. It's a good practice that keeps us from buying things we don't need, and also offers the opportunity to forage for fresh veggies and things every couple of days. We have no space for stocking up on anything, and a Costco membership would be a waste of time.

Now that we've found out that the streetcars run until 11:30 most nights, we'll also be making use of them for our evenings out. Do we need a car? We don't know. But for me, someone who does't really like to drive anyway, this whole public transit idea is just pure wonderfulness.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


We've finally finished ferrying stuff from the storage unit that's 20 minutes from here, and either finding the right place for it in our new place, or stuffing it in an even smaller storage "cage" in the basement of our building - for an extra monthly fee of course. We've also made three major trips to Ikea, and either hauled home, or had delivered two tiny rooms full of furniture. This, of course, needed to be removed from flat boxes and assembled. And this, of course, mostly fell on Rick because he's the big strong man and because he likes puzzles and tools.

The only specks of furniture from our past life are two nightstands, which also happen to be from Ikea, and only made the cut because they have good storage and doors that close. The only other piece we brought is my antique oak dresser, with its carved mirror and built in hat box, and it does't even fit in the apartment (visually or physically). We could't have known that ahead of time, and I'm not sure I could have given it up even if we'd known it would have to go in storage. I've had this thing since I was in high school. And although it's in desperate need of refinishing, I love it too much to let it go to anyone other than family. Nobody in the family wants it, and I don't blame them. So it sits in a giant cage along with piles of boxes that now contain mysterious, unknown objects that we thought we needed just a few weeks ago.

I need to have a yard sale. I don't know how to do that in an apartment, but I do know I need yet another big downsizing. Sigh... All that Wonderful Stuff. Our Stuff. Valuable Stuff. Useful Stuff. Precious Stuff. I can name three things in those boxes. And the rest... I have no idea at this point.

So here we are, with what's basically one big room, furnished with New Stuff, which makes me happy. We sold all our old furniture, with the exception of the dresser and nightstands, so we had to fill this place with something other than camp chairs and sleeping bags. I considered shopping thrift stores and vintage. I believe in re-using. But the truth is, I wanted New Stuff, stuff that didn't smell like other people, stuff that suits our new place and new life. We spent far less furnishing our new place than what we made selling the things from our old one. So no regrets there. I love what's happening here. What I don't love is the cage in the basement, and I'll have to figure out what to do with all that soon.

There's nothing on our walls yet, and I think that's appropriate. This new life we're making is a big blank canvas. We'll fill it, and the walls, little by little, as we continue to let go of the things that no longer suit us. I suspect we're talking about more than mere material objects here, but that's a topic for another day. For now, welcome to our new apartment. If you visit, and insist on bringing a housewarming gift, please be sure it's consumable, like flowers, candles, wine... I have all the Other Stuff I need, downstairs, in a cage. In fact, if you visit, please take some of it with you when you leave.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Full Moon

I hear it's been typical spring weather back in Taos - cold and snowing - while here in Portland we're enjoying hot sunny days and evenings warm enough to walk down to the river in t-shirts. I am not delusional (usually), and I know it rains here, sometimes a lot. We've already had a mixed bag of weather in the short time we've been here. And that tells me a couple of things. One, don't put away the winter clothes and rain gear in the summer. And two, we need to go out and play whenever we can. That's just what we did last night, after a long day of Moving Stuff Around, which I hope we'll be finished with soon.

The full moon is always a reason to go out at night, and the promise of it sparkling on water is too much for me to resist. After dinner we rounded up the dogs, left our sweaters behind, and strolled down to the river, a ten minute walk from our door. There were lots of people out enjoying the weather and the moonlight. Even the dogs appreciated the extra long walk on an extra beautiful evening. We are so happy to be here, so for many reasons.

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Digs

I've never used a glass cooktop, but it's a great place to set champagne. To save space, we have wine glasses, but not champagne flutes. Not a problem. Not for us.
Just 2 weeks and a weekend after leaving Taos, and our world has changed completely. We moved into our sweet little studio apartment on Friday, and we love it more than I ever could have imagined. It's like the Universe plopped us right here in the perfect spot for us, which of course is exactly what happened.

The apartment is a spacious 571 square feet, with a low wall that divides the bedroom from the kitchen/living space. The kitchen is small, but workable for us. The bathroom is fairly large. In fact it feels bigger than our Taos bathroom, and it has a nice little stacking washer and dryer in it. I love that. I am being wowed by things most people take for granted, like a dish washer, clothes dryer, and garbage disposal. What wonderful inventions! I haven't had any of them in years and I'm really happy to have them now.

Storage space is lacking, and maybe that's intentional. The open space is more like a blank canvas than a meticulously designed RV or Tiny House. The furnishings we bring in will all need to be comfortable, visually pleasing, moveable, and provide extra storage. Ikea is our first stop. The style is right for not only the apartment, but also for our changing tastes. Once we get it all put together I'll share more details. For now, here's what we're going to call Home for the next year. I love it beyond reason.
Room to dance, and wonderful windows that open wide to the world.
We'll be adding a counter height table/island to use as a place to prep and eat. The fridge is the two tall doors on the left.  It's tiny! We'll be walking to the local market often for fresh veggies.
From the kitchen, looking back through to the bedroom. There's room for a queen size bed and two night stands. Glad we sold the king bed in Taos! The closet is small, but we can also make use of the hallway for storage.
The camp chairs are temporary... stay tuned.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Move Like A River

I have a little charm I wear on a necklace that says, "Move Like A River." It's my mantra of the moment. All I can do these days is go with the flow, drifting along with what I can see on the surface, surrendering to the unseen currents that run beneath, and dodging the rocks and tree limbs the best I can.

Portland is pretty wonderful so far, and I love that there's an enormous river running through the middle of the city. We came here to be nearer to family in Seattle, San Jose, and Reno, and to see how Portland works for us a a hub that's roughly central to the other three places. It looks really good on paper, with it's wealth of vegan restaurants, fun neighborhoods, culture, and outdoor fun to explore. Finding our place here, when we kind of pick up our feet a float along with what wants to happen, is easier than I think it is at times.

Moving is stressful, and we've been on the move for quite a while now, from sorting, packing, and selling our things in Taos to driving it half way across the country to loading it into a storage unit to diving right into the search for a place to live. I'm exhausted, but at least we think we can see a calm spot in the distance, a place to rest.

A brief and intensive search turned up an apartment that we'll call home for the next year. It's a 571 sq. ft. studio near Portland State University. It's new and hip and edgy and urban. It's surrounded by almost everything we need in either walking distance or a quick hop on the public transit. I allows dogs - after as much background search on them as they did on us, and at a lot of extra cost. And it's too soon to tell, but maybe best of all, our new place is a short walk down to the Willamette River, where we can walk for miles along the park that edges it.

It all seems pretty perfect, and it's really happening fast. We left Taos just 2 weeks ago, and tomorrow we'll begin officially Dating Portland for the next year. Will we fall in love? Will we marry it? I have no idea, but that's what dating is all about. Right now I just want to get a little bit settled, and take lots of long walks by the river, because a river always knows more about life than I do.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


We made it to Portland on schedule, after a long almost-week, some ups and downs, and a lot of emotions - mostly mine. This is no small thing, uprooting ourselves "at this age" and starting all over again on a course that's not very clear to us. I cry a lot. I have fun. I do my best to roll with whatever happens, and to trust the Bigger Plan that we can't see. It feels right to be doing this crazy thing. And then, every so often, I completely fall apart. I gauge my days by how many times I cry. Yesterday was a 4-cry day. Today was only 2, but one was a real meltdown, and I deserved it.

We spent last night in a somewhat sketchy Motel 6 just outside of Portland. I had a bad feeling about it instantly, but we were tired and decided to spend the night there because it was relatively close to the storage unit we'd booked ahead of time. Long story short, we should have listened to that gut feeling. Someone cut the lock on the UHaul during the night and stole 2 suitcases full of favorite clothes, and some of Rick's tools. Crap!!! If you've ever been stolen from, you know the icky feeling of violation that makes the loss of stuff kind of secondary. Our insurance has a $1000 deductible, so a claim is not worth the effort. We just have to buy some new clothes and keep moving forward.

Tonight, and for the next several nights, we're in a La Quinta in a better part of town, in something of a spring heatwave. It's wonderful, and we finally feel relaxed for the first time in weeks. We're not "home," but we're here. It's time to take a few days to visit with friends, catch our breath, and decide which baby step to take next. For now, it's good to just sit still for a minute and enjoy what we find around us.