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Archive for the ‘relaxation’ Category

Changes in regard to coffee

Yes it’s true, we Portlanders love our coffee, and there are a plethora of coffeehouses all around town to drive home that truth. I myself have a list of favorites in my neighborhood, but what a joy it is to discover a new treasure outside of the Alphabet District, the quaint and quirky name of the area in which I live.

And yes it’s true, shortly after moving here I dared to get rid of my coffeepot and the monkey on my back habit of half a pot of coffee in the morning. I had started to feel like a coffee junkie, so I quit cold turkey, suffered the pangs of caffeine withdrawal and stayed away for a time. Well, a short time that is, until I found myself tiptoeing back to instant coffee, only one cup a day. And hey, that’s not really an addiction, only one cup of instant coffee in the morning, is it? And I can quit anytime! But today was different, I just needed more – and here is my story…

Two Cup Day

I had relegated myself

To a self-imposed limit

Only one cup of coffee

To start my day

But today felt different

A cool breeze

Gray clouds in the skylight

The flickering candle I had lit

To stave off the dim daylight

One last swallow of the first cup

And off to the kitchen

Marching triumphantly

To celebrate my new holiday

Behold the inauguration of

Two Cup Day

tiny coffee

My new title, Professional Volunteer

I was volunteering at my neighborhood library this morning, talking with one of the staff who I hadn’t met before, and telling her about my retired life and what I do to fill my time. “Oh, so you’re a professional volunteer!” she proclaimed. And I had to thank her for giving me such a title, it really spells out who I am now – how perfect, yes, a professional volunteer.

I can see why she would say that, as my days now are pleasantly filled with helping out in a number of places. I do have Monday as a “free day”, walking in the morning with a friend and then doing whatever I please for the rest of the day. Then comes Tuesday, and I am presently helping  an older gentleman clear out all he has accumulated over his 70 years, trying to make more room in the studio apartment he now lives in. Wednesday and Thursday mornings I take a very short walk across the street to the grocery store, where I help out as a shopper for a non-profit called Store To Door, a place that provides grocery shopping service and delivery for those unable to do so. Friday is also another day of helping a senior, this time being a visitor and friendly face to an elderly woman, who just wants some company to help stave off the loneliness of growing older. Saturday is usually another free day, except for every third Saturday when I help with the neighborhood clean-up. Then I end my week by helping out on Sundays mornings at the local library. And in between all this are other one time opportunities to help here and there, for all kinds of different places and reasons.

Looking at all of that, I can see why I was bestowed with such a title; yes, it seems like it is an occupation in itself, all the volunteering I do now. But this is exactly what I have been reaching for, since I retired and even before that, when I would imagine all the wonderful ways I could help people if I just had the time. Well, now I have the time and I seem to have found some wonderful ways to help. This truly is my work now, even though I don’t get paid with a paycheck. Instead, I am able to pay forward the gift of time I have been given, when I was able to retire early at age 50 after a long but burned out at the end career in healthcare. I love my new job title, and life is very good working as a professional volunteer.

Huber’s Cafe – a Chinese owner, American turkey, and Spanish coffee

It was another luncheon outing of the “lovely library ladies”, the group of us from the book club who meet once a month for lunch at various eateries in Portland. This time we decided to try Huber’s Cafe, the restaurant that sports this claim to fame, “Established in 1879, Huber’s is Portland’s oldest restaurant”. It is a beautifully old, dark wood, lowly lit place from a time past. The room we ate lunch in is covered by a ceiling of Tiffany glass, along with a bar that looks like it came out of an old Hollywood movie, complete with the original brass cash register.

Huber’s was started by Frank Huber, but was eventually taken over and bought by Jim Louie, a Chinese immigrant hired by Frank Huber as Huber’s original cook. The main menu item of the early Huber’s was a turkey sandwich and coleslaw, and Jim Louie continued on with the turkey tradition, expanding the menu to include many different types of turkey offerings. The turkey melt sandwich I had with brie cheese and caramelized onions on a toasted baguette was very tasty, along with Huber’s famous coleslaw that lived up to its reputation as delicious.

But the best part, and certainly most entertaining was the Spanish coffee we had after our meal. This drink was developed by James Louie, another member of the Louie family, and having it prepared table side is an event in itself.  This amazing and very yummy drink consists of Kahlua, 151 proof Bacardi rum, Bols triple sec and hot coffee, topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg – what a tantalizing combination of flavors it is! The bartender came to our table with a tray of all the needed ingredients and special heat resistant glasses rimmed in sugar, and proceeded to concoct our beverages with the showmanship of a magician. He poured layers of the various liquors into the two glasses he held, as he moved his arms in an sweeping arc, almost like the movements of a ballet dancer. And at one point in this performance, he lit the liquid inside the glasses on fire, adding much flair to the whole spectacle.

It was the perfect end to a delightful lunch on a cold and rainy Portland day, as we added another great Portland food destination to our ever growing list of lunch time adventures had by the lovely library ladies.

The bar at Huber's

The bar at Huber’s

The start of Spanish coffee

The start of Spanish coffee

Lighting the coffee on fire

Lighting it on fire

Topping it off with fresh whipped cream

Topping it off with fresh whipped cream

Ready to drink!

Ready to drink!

 

 

 

 

 

The sparkling Christmas lights of Peacock Lane

Since I am spending Christmas here in Portland this year, and not traveling back to Minnesota to be with my family, I was able to experience a Portland Christmas tradition the other night. I learned about the Lights on Peacock Lane, which is a holiday tradition going back to the 1920’s. Since that time, every house on the SE Portland street of Peacock Lane has participated in decorating for the Christmas holiday with lights, yard ornaments of all types, and even music that plays for everyone to hear. Since it was one of the few rain-free nights we have had in awhile, their were plenty of people out and about to view the shining lights and festive decorations. I guess there is even a special song that has been written in honor of this event, although I didn’t hear anyone singing it, not even the carolers who were there. But it was a beautiful sight, and a lovely evening to share with my fellow Portlanders, as I spend Christmas in the place I love the best.

 

 

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Hunting season, with my car instead of a gun

My newly married daughter is already a widow; a hunting widow that is. Her beloved is deep in the throes of hunting season, leaving her alone on recent weekends to traipse after the ever elusive deer with his trusty bow and arrows in hand. And the beauty of hunting with a bow rather than a gun is the extended season offered to the bow hunters. They can keep trying and trying long after the regular deer season has come and gone. And try and try he did, coming home an unhappy hunter in his first few attempts, with no trophy to show for his efforts. That is until last weekend, when he shot an eight point buck (the number having to do with the size of Bambi’s antlers) and he finally comes back home a happy hunter. But fear not, hunting season does not end just because of a successful hunt. No, my son-in-law is leaving right after Thanksgiving dinner to try for more; afflicted with the hunting fever.

And all this talk about hunting and deer brought back the memory of my first deer; that is, the first (and thankfully only) deer I ever hit with my car. I was so unprepared, as I drove home one night after aerobics class, oblivious to the suburban deer that decided to cross the road right in front of my car. And unlike my happy hunter son-in-law, I did not celebrate my first kill. Instead I felt sick inside – I had taken down one of God’s beautiful creatures, and a baby at that! Oh, the horror! Luckily for me, my big boat of a 1977 Impala just ran right over the poor creature, sustaining not a lick of damage except for the deer hide underneath my car that smelled worse and worse as I drove home. After I got home I called the police to tell them what happened, said a prayer so I would be forgiven, and swore that I would always scan the sides of the nighttime road with my “deer eyes”.

But as the years went by, I found that the best laid plans sometimes falter, and I had a few other run-ins with my car vs. nature. There was the goose I hit as it tried to cross the highway with what I’m assuming was its mate; I just wanted to pull the car over and cry. And to add insult to injury, after I got to work and told a co-worker about what happened with the goose, she proceeded to tell me that geese mate for life. Now all I could think about was the widowed goose, the poor little goslings I left without a mother or father, and how I managed to tear a lovely goose family apart.

Then there was the raccoon I almost managed to avoid. I swerved to avoid him on the two lane road in the way that they always tell you not to, but it was late and there was only me on the road at the time. But this poor guy must have been old and he was a bit overweight, even for raccoon standards, and his last minute decision to try and make it across landed him right into my front bumper. And unlike my old Impala, my newer Honda Civic didn’t do so well, and pieces of plastic went flying down the road along with the now very dead raccoon.

But by far the worst roadkill for me was when I hit a hawk. Yes, I hit a hawk that was sitting on the road in the middle of the night eating roadkill. What the hell was he doing there, eating food that was usually left for the crows to pick up, and what happened to his super sharp reflexes that should have had him flying away at the last second, like the crows always did? Maybe he had eaten some tainted meat and was brain addled, but I’ll never know because I killed him! And this really broke my heart, as I have a strong affinity for the raptors. I love to watch them soar in the sky, riding the unseen currents of air. I would always seemed to spot them when I was out walking or even driving, as if we had some sort of connection. And now, I had destroyed one, never to soar again.

I only hope that all those poor creatures I inadvertently killed with my innocent car can forgive me, as they reside in animal Heaven now, safe and sound from the perils of the roadways. And I am happy to be car-free now, no longer driving a weapon of destruction against nature. My hunting season has now ended.

My son-in-law, the happy hunter

Only in Portland

Keep Portland Weird! The bumper stickers with this quirky catchphrase in bright yellow letters can be seen all around town. Some of the locals find it trite, but for me it was a draw to this “weird” city, a place where the eccentric are encouraged to come out in full force. The origin of this slogan was actually a campaign started by a company to encourage shopping at local merchants around town, but it really defines the energy of this very interesting city.

Another aspect of Portland that makes it so unique is its almost overzealous love of dogs, rivaled only by some European cities. Instead of most major cities who would have to post a “dogs allowed” sign in the window of any business, Portland assumes that dogs are allowed everywhere! The only sign posted here is “only service dogs allowed”. And Portlanders are not shy about taking their dogs everywhere, often dressed in cute little doggie clothes, making them as eccentric as their owners. I have seen dogs in many restaurants, coffeehouses, all kinds of local businesses and even in the grocery store. But this morning as I was picking up a few things at the grocery store across the street, I encountered a surprising lack of Portland patience for our canine friends.

I was in the produce section, trying to size up the pomegranates and figure out what makes one pomegranate better than the other, when I heard the announcement from a less than happy employee – “Would the person who owns the dogs chained outside to the bike rack please go and take care of them – they will not stop barking! Thank you.” And this is something else that amazes me, is the honor system that is in place; allowing people to leave their dogs chained up outside an establishment while they take care of their business, never giving a worry or second thought that someone might come by and steal their precious pooch. Only in Portland…

And in another vein of quirkiness, I am proud to say that I live in the city that houses America’s Largest Hat Museum, simply named The Hat Museum. I had the good fortune to be able to take a tour through it with a women’s writing group one rainy Saturday afternoon. Reservations are required, and only groups of up to six people are allowed, so it is not like just any old museum that one might stroll through.

The museum is located in the Ladd-Reingold house, a vintage house through and through, built in 1910. Of course for many years it was a private residence, but now it is literally filled to the rafters with hats of all kinds. I was greeted at the door by Alyce, our tour guide, dressed in a wonderful outfit from the turn of the 20th century; a beautiful vintage dress circa early 1900’s, black lace gloves, black leather boots from that period, and of course an extremely flamboyant hat full of ribbons, feathers and flowers.

We started on the first floor, gazing in awe at the stunning collection of antique and vintage hats, some of which were adorned in very ostentatious ways. Then we moved on to a more modern day collection, learning all along how hats have really been a huge part of our histories and cultures. The second floor houses a massive collection of men’s hats, where we learned that because of the overwhelming desire for beaver hats in the day, the poor beaver was almost hunted to extinction. After that we moved on to the unusual collection of novelty hats, which included hats for every occasion and holiday, even one that was made to resemble a Thanksgiving dinner table – very quirky! We finished up with the collection of international hats, most of which have been sent to the Hat Museum from people all over the world.

So it is with great pride and joy that I shout out to all who will listen – Keep Portland Weird! And I love being able to relay stories to my non-Portland friends, beginning with the words, “Only in Portland”…

https://i2.wp.com/www.keepportlandweird.com/images/products/KPWLB.jpg

When reading blogs becomes a full-time job, and why I had to go part-time

When I first started my blog and actually began to gather followers, I was so grateful, and I felt an obligation to follow each one of them in turn. And that was fine for a time, when the numbers were low. But things quickly spiraled out of control, and I found myself unable to keep up. Reading all the lovely blog posts started to take up much more time than I expected, and I found myself starting to resent having to read so much. How sad, because I love to read!

I tried spacing it out a bit, only reading a few here and there. But soon I found myself overwhelmed with so much in my inbox that I had times where I had to sweep it all away in a massive deleting. This broke my heart; callously clicking away others words without so much as a glance. So I decided that I needed to start being a bit more selective in the blogs I follow, so I could help my oversensitive self not panic by being inundated with so much information. Now that I follow a smaller number of blogs, I find I am relaxed and once more enjoying the world of blogging.

And as I look at the flip side of things, I notice that I actually have 77 followers now; yet if I’m lucky on a good day I might get 7 people who read and/or like my post. And that is perfectly fine, as I write for the joy of it, not the adoration. But I have to wonder if other bloggers have also amassed an unmanageable amount of blogs they follow. Like some kind of blogging fever that strikes when a blogger is fresh and new, excited and ready to take on all the wonderful offerings that are out there to read.

It all reminds me of days past, when people used to read magazines and actually subscribe to  them, having them sent to their homes. It used to be a common problem once upon a time; getting carried away with too many magazine subscriptions and never enough time to read them all. The solution for that problem was picking out only one or two that really merited interest and not renewing the rest.

Well now the same seems to hold true for the plethora of blogs available to read, and I find myself having to select a reasonable number that I can give quality time to reading. And as with all things in life, that is ever changing. As I un-follow some blogs, I find new ones that I want to follow – and I’m sure that the same is done with my blogs. Such is life, always full of change, and such is the reason that I am only a part-time reader of blogs.

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