Monday, February 22, 2010

Waking Hours

From the Ferryboat, 2010

I'm not awake.
I know I'm not awake.

She turned over slowly. All that was left was his pillow. The room was dark and a thin sliver of light was winking beneath the door. He was awake, before daylight, again. This had become a ritual.

Is it morning she thought. She pulled on a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan and moved toward the dining room, grudgingly, her stocking feet sliding lazily across the wood floor.

There he was, in his pajamas, his face set aglow by the light of his laptop screen. His eyes were wide and he typed furiously.



When are you leaving,
she began in a sleepy voice. Do you want me to walk downtown with you?

Soon. I can't sleep and I have a lot to do. You don't have to wake up.

It's okay.

All too soon he was walking away. She wasn't familiar with this part of the city, but found a place that looked interesting enough. After a cappuccino and a slice of panetonne, she pondered her options. Back to the apartment? Back to bed? Wander? Yes, wander, I guess.

She exited the cafe. Alone again, the sky heavy and seeping rain, her umbrella stuck. A few nudges of the small lever and it finally popped open. The street was quiet and the shop and restaurant windows were all dark. Her eyes lit up when she spotted the museum, but it was closed. Then a green sign came into view. It had bold white lettering that read FERRY underscored with a bold white arrow.

She followed, all the while thinking maybe I should just go back to the apartment. My pant legs are rather wet. It's February and I'm cold. Her feet continued in the direction of the bold white arrow, as if led by remote control, across the desolate street, up the empty stairs, over the bridge, and into a quiet terminal.

There were a few people sleeping on benches and a couple of men working behind a ticket window. It didn't seem any action would be taking place in the near future, but then she noticed there was a ferry leaving in ten minutes. She approached the window and stumbled Um...hi...if I take the next ferry, will it take me to the type of place where I can walk around a bit, on a Main Street of sorts, maybe find a cafe, and then take another ferry back to this terminal? He answered affirmatively, in a you-can-do-whatever-you-want-lady manner. Okay, one round-trip ticket please.

A few minutes later she was boarding a giant, and practically empty ferryboat. She sat down, alone, on a long pale bench and looked deep into the cavernous interior. The next passenger sat a distant seven or eight rows away. She was surprised this beast of a boat traveled with so few passengers. This was a fairly ridiculous day for an island stroll, but she admired the dependable ferryboat company for sticking to their set schedule.

She removed her jacket and rested it and her tote beside her. Feeling fidgety, she sought comfort in her book. She removed it from her tote and opened it to the page where her bookmark rested. She looked down, absently, at the page partially obstructed by her bookmark, not reading a word.

The view out the window was more interesting. She closed her book and gazed out at the ash colored sky and water, her head tilted lazily to the right. It was magnificent. The boat vibrated and hummed beneath her as it glided across the bay.

She laughed to herself thinking I feel like I'm in a movie. She was the drab character beginning what would be a fantastic journey that would change her life. This was one of those moments that refused conjuring or fair warning. She smiled and watched the boat cut through the grey waves. Always be ready she thought.

And then they landed.

She exited the ferry, her umbrella popping without argument this time. A heavier rain and a larger sign. DOWNTOWN, underscored with a bold white arrow. She followed, only looking out from beneath her umbrella to observe a traffic light. The movie feeling was fading and her wet pant legs were beginning to adhere to her legs. She crossed the intersection and saw what appeared to be the beginning of Main Street. Finally.

Entering the book shop, she wound the strap around her small dripping umbrella. She was the only customer in the shop and moved through every display slowly and methodically, reading staff reviews, picking up book after book and reading about the authors, studying their photographs, and spending perhaps too long with a book of Russian poetry.

The shop felt as if it had been drawn around her. It suited her perfectly. She decided on a used book. The way the woman at the counter paused and lovingly ran her hand over the cover left her wondering if these were waking hours. The woman, lost in a daydream and looking toward the front window, punched the keys of the old cash register and languorously said A perfect day for soup at the pub.

she agreed while drawing the necessary bills from her wallet. How do I get there?

Around the corner, down the hill, past the ivy-covered cafe, and through the parking lot.
The actual name of the establishment escaped her. She left her with you'll know and she was right.

She entered a small warm room with a fire place, wood plank floors, and windows through which the mind could slip. Split pea with ham, a chunk of bread, and a pint followed.

The rain continued as she left the pub and walked around to the pier. She walked out along the planks, stopped about midway, and looked down over the railing into the crystal clear water. There were scattered starfish lounging about in the strangest positions, their bodies a vibrant orange. She stood there for a long time, her umbrella perched over her head, watching the scene as raindrops dented the surface of the water.

On her return to the boat the sun emerged, heavy, low, and beaming. She returned to her pale bench and familiar tilt of head. She revisited her bookmark and then tucked it away, again.

The sun reflecting off the light chop on the bay combined with the new warmth sent her mind adrift. She envisioned the boat traveling along a wide semicircular arc back toward the island. She knew she'd be able to sleep there. Time passed slowly, or so it seemed.

And then they landed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Gumball and the Garden Hose

Maybe I Was Too Close, February 2010

February 18, 2010
This just isn't working for me. I'm making some changes.


A smile.
A nod.
Today a wave.

I know you, he says.
From the corner.

You don’t,
But I won’t

I'll smile and agree,
Like a politician.

You remind me of him.
And for you,
The truth will bend.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, by myself.

Coconut Bread w/ Slivered Almonds + Chocolate Chunks, February 2010

It was a beautiful, slow moving, and contemplative day. The type of day where you find yourself noticing the objects on your kitchen counter and recalling the origin of each piece.

I'd happened upon this recipe three times. It could wait no longer.

Preparation is truly stress free. From corralling the ingredients to folding in the melted butter, it was a complete pleasure.

Try it, on a day when you are far from hurried. Add slivered almonds and chunks of chocolate.

Eat your first slice while it is still warm. Preferably while you are alone, and gazing out a window.

Share the rest.

Kitchen Counter Objects, February 2010

Saturday, by myself. February 2010

Cucina Nicolina
Seven Spoons
The Wednesday Chef

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shoot to kill.

Christoper Blossoms
Valentine's Week 2010

I was locked out of the house. I do not recall how this happened. I don't know why my sister wasn't with me. It was long ago and some fragments of detail have broken free from this memory. I do know that I was 16. Also, very important at the time, I owned a white bikini. I loved that white bikini.

We lived in the desert, just outside of Apache Junction. Our property bordered the Tonto National Forest. We were at the foot of the Superstition Mountains. The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine was buried up there somewhere. The story of the Lost Dutchman was usually referenced in a comical sort of way, but I'd never been quick to dismiss such things. I was optimistic, but still unsure.

After living most of my life in Chicago, this was Wild West territory, for me. Mom had gone to Dallas. Dad grew a beard, shot rattle snakes, and decided to build his own house. When we were left at home alone, I was instructed to shoot to kill anyone daring to set foot on our property and come near my sister and me. I would always nod in agreement, but had secretly decided if such a situation occurred I'd go for the intruder's knees.

My English teacher was discussing poetry and she had my ear. We were experimenting with various forms and she responded to my work in a way that made me feel I had promise. I really needed that at the time. I think she knew. I'll never forget her.

I was a difficult student to engage. Fickle would be a generous description. But this felt different. It was as if the subject had been created for me. It didn't feel like work at all.

I daydreamed about words, placing them side by side, moving them from line to line, pronouncing them out loud, slowly, feeling every syllable, and then shaping and reshaping it all, over and over again.

So when I realized I was locked out, it wasn't such a big deal. The school bus had gone and even the dusty cloud it left behind was mostly settled. There wasn't much I could do. I decided to begin a new poem, hoping I'd be able to memorize it and write it down later.

It wasn't for class, it was for him. I was attempting to articulate my feelings. They say love at such a young age is not real love, but I disagree. Honestly, the core of what I believe to be love now and what I believed back then, they aren't so different.

I fidgeted and shifted about on a nice sized boulder until I felt comfortable, and then I began. I wrote and wrote, without paper or pen, and the time passed without my notice. I had not seen or heard a single thing for hours when Dad's truck broke through the quiet, kicking up gravel on our lonely road.

I looked up to a sinking sun, every dirty shrub and cactus glowing, and felt the air beginning to cool. I'd written a poem.

Was it for him, or for me? I'm not really sure. Both, I think.

I don't know what happened to my white bikini, but the poem, it stayed with me.

I remember each and every word.


Chris + Irvington, 2010

I'm home!


Our arrival...
The side of the Portland Union Train Station sign that reads GO BY TRAIN. It looks fabulous when lit up at night.

Cartola's perfectly prepared cappuccinos, beautiful design, soothing music + free copy of The New York Times.

Helen Bernhard Bakery's crumb donut (cake, not raised) -- the best donut I've ever eaten.

Brunch at Blossoming Lotus. Beautiful kale! Delicious fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in their Breakfast Greyhound.
Bonus: There was something about the name of the place that made us giggle each time we walked past the sign.

A leisurely afternoon-turned-evening with our friend Daniel. We visited Foster & Dobbs and stocked up on cheese, cured meats, craft beer, fantastic olives (Castelvetranos were our favorite) and the most wonderful salty date and almond crackers. We finished our evening with squares of dark chocolate + ginger.

I stumbled upon Knit Knot Studio while visiting the Pearl District and had a conversation with Elizabeth, the charming owner. She took one look at my favorite scarf and said Oh sweetie, I need to teach you how to create a nice edge for your scarves. She was also convinced that I must give up my bamboo needles and silly wrap around stitching method. I needed to move up to aluminum needles and continental style knitting (the-only-way-to-go in Poland). I know I know, it all seems a little harsh, but really, it wasn't. She loved sharing her wisdom and teaching and did so lovingly. If I lived in Portland I'd buy all of my yarn at Knit Knot, just so I could hang out with Elizabeth.

Strolling the streets of moss-covered Irvington. Moss in just about every shade of green covered just about every exposed surface. Petite purple flowers were popping up through the grass on every corner. The rain has served Portland well.

My last day...
I found it surprisingly satisfying to sit at the counter in Stumptown's downtown cafe. Cappuccino, book of poetry in hand, very loud bass-filled music filling the giant open space. Somehow this was very relaxing. I can't explain.

Irvington moss, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

In and around Seattle

Complete! February 4, 2010

from Capitol Hill to the downtown Seattle area every morning.

panettone (toasted lightly on the panini press) from Stella Caffe, balsamic strawberry ice cream from Molly Moon's, salt cod hash from Coastal Kitchen, demi-poulet froid mayonnaise from Café Presse.

to Bainbridge Island in the rain.

a Mac n Jacks African Amber in The Harbour Public House. What a view!

to Elizabeth Gilbert's voice.

and completing a two-yarn scarf (silk, mohair, merino, cashmere + tiny glass beads) and beginning an organic cotton washcloth.

the early evening blue framed by the bedroom window.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I used to be somebody

The Bean Teepees & Me, 2008
Image: Courtesy of Knowledge Man

I used to be somebody
But now I am somebody else
I used to be somebody
But now I am somebody else
Who I'll be tomorrow
Is anybody's guess

These were the first lines sung by the main character in a movie I saw recently. I cannot stop singing them and this doesn't surprise me.

In short, I am the opposite of the person who had a childhood dream of becoming a _____ and then became that very _____. No, I'm what some might call a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type. I've been a lot of things. I'm never quite sure if I'll reach a certain stage where I will find my place in this world or if this is my place in the world.

When I was in graduate school I heard two stand-out pieces of advice that have been helpful to me when addressing this conundrum.

The first was Don't worry about finding your voice. You can't be anyone but yourself. I was assured that if I was true to myself my voice would come through loud and clear in my work.

The second Life's a lot longer than you think it's going to be. Followed by something about not needing to hurry or push too hard too fast, there being more than enough time to figure it all out.

Both of these philosophies were close to opposite of what I'd heard most of my life. I'd always heard that I should work hard to find my voice and that life was short.

I saw this new advice as Stop and listen, then go. This was something I could wrap my arms around. This suited me.

Still I can't help but wonder, what's next?

Are you who you always hoped you would become?

...and a fun little something else that Chris sent me