Portrait of Portlandia

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. ”
– John Ruskin

1467Touch down

1468Trainside Poetry: “I believe in the rule of opposites…”

1505The Good Mod

1511Coffeeshop Reads

1543Inside the Japanese Gardens

1547And then, the rain

1553One of the many reasons why Powell’s Books was top-notch

1581Sun peeks through

1594Relative to everywhere

I never thought a city could make me fall in love with the rain. I had always been ambivalent to its indecisiveness, halfway between a clear sky and a snowstorm. But the people of Portland welcome every drop. Instead of rushing inside when the leaking starts, they continue about their days, aptly pointing out that yes, “it’s just water.”

Things to Do Now That It’s Fall

Pumpkin, Chai, Cinnamon, Apples, Roasted Pears – get in my kitchen. The recipe pictured above nearly captures everything I think of fall to be: chai-spiced slow cooker pear applesauce. Oh, oh yes.

Southern California has the unique position of never experiencing a season. As a girl who grew up with a fair amount of weather, I have to admit I get nostalgic for it. Without leaves changing colors all around, I’m resolved to add a bit of fall into the everyday. Whether it’s clothes or what I put on a plate, this fall will be infused with a spectrum of warm hues.

Something about this time of year lends itself to song. So why not play along? I plan to break out the piano a learn a few new tunes.

We forget that there’s room for this in life. Let’s let fall be a reminder to get outside, get exploring, and to take ourselves a little less seriously.

Tea, coffee, cider, whatever it is – now’s the time to serve it up warm, curl your fingers around a cup, and enjoy.

The best ideas are often those that seem to crazy to be true. Here’s to believing and putting those wild ideas into action.

Seeking: moments that take my breath away. Must have a love of adventure. Possible suitors include parasailing, skydiving, motorcyling, and more.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

How to Thoroughly Enjoy Your Life

1. Sing in the car. Laugh when you realize that the guy in the car next to you is watching. Smile as he turns on his radio to sing along too.

2. Stay up too late. Fill your evening with a fury of sounds and thoughts and people before heading home. Let the afterglow of exhaustion pull you into sleep.

3. Write someone a letter. On real paper. Doodle in the margins and send it off to them. Realize that written correspondence is a rare joy.

4. Travel. Doesn’t need to be far. Get in the car and drive for 30 minutes in a direction you haven’t wandered before. Get out, explore what’s there, return when you wish.

5. Forgive someone. The person who spilled coffee on you this morning or the person that “ruined your life.” This will be the most important thing you will do.

6. Try your hand at something you never thought you’d be good at. Juggling, unicycling, baking, parasailing – pick one and enjoy the thrill of something random.

7. Look up. At the tops of buildings, birds, stars. Beam when you see a plane skywrite a message of love.

8. Eat food that makes you stop in your tracks and go “mmm.” Yes, like in the commercials. Maybe that’s homemade pesto, maybe it’s Burrata cheese. Find what makes your taste buds rejoice and treat yourself often.

9. Dance a little when alone in an elevator. Grin and nod politely when the doors open to someone waiting to get on.

10. Take time for yourself everyday. Whether its a cup of tea in the morning or taking yourself out to a meal amid the hustle and bustle of others, relish in your own company. Learn to befriend yourself.

11. Get lost. Gain a newfound sense of home when you find your way back.

12. Talk to someone new. Recognize that their story is beautiful and be inspired. Think of your encounter when you start to feel like you may have done it all. Go out and talk to more people.

13. Create something. A song, story, an image, something that reminds you of who you are. Notice that it’s rewarding. Do it often.

14. Make time for people that matter to you. Treat an old friend to drinks, share favorite stories and realize that a lot has changed. Appreciate that even though things are different, you both still get along so well.

15. Fall in love. Try to stay in love. Fight for each other, not with each other.

16. Listen to music. In concert halls, at home, while walking, before you fall asleep. Find songs that shake you and make you wonder how someone knew just what you needed to hear.

17. Laugh until you cry. Make someone else do the same.

18. Share what you have. If you think you have nothing to give, share an idea, a memory, maybe your life.

19. Celebrate the things you used to take for granted. Finally understand what people meant when they babbled off “the best things in life are free.”

20. Face one of your fears. Don’t look away until you’ve mastered it. You’re freer now.

Image Source: Dara Scully

World’s A Stage: Spotlight on New Zealand

Because you can’t take me anywhere without me clambering to check out a show, New Zealand has become the next stop on our global theatre tour.

The day before I left for the trip, I scoured the theatre results in Wellington until I happened upon the title “Chekhov in Hell.” Intrigued, it only took a quick description to sell me on a Saturday night ticket:

“Anton Chekhov, playwright, author and pitiless observer of Russian society, awakes from a hundred-year coma and finds himself in twenty-first century London”

That, and the promo photos:

This show at the Circa Theatre, one of the seven professional venues in New Zealand, takes a careful lens to our modern day habits. Illuminating without criticising, it asks the audience to consider how we may be inhibiting our lives by trying to add more to them. Obviously this applies to the technoaddiction many face, but the more interesting discussions were those of gastronomy and fashion.

Chekhov tries to get a bite to eat at a restaurant and is presented with an assortment of molecular gastronomy “delights” and deconstructed food items. The chef seems stunned when the Russian passes on a dish of chicken sashimi. And while this plate of raw chicken is a hyperbole on what’s found in mod restaurants nowadays, it still begs the question of where to draw the line between food that’s an elevated art form, and food that’s simply no longer food.

The show’s playwright shows a bit more teeth during Chekhov’s encounter with the high-class fashion world. A designer invents sexist outfits on the spot for some of his models as Chekhov stands by and wonders aloud how he gets them to adopt such trends. The designer launches into a self-assured monologue about how he can suggest a look, and consumers will lap it up. Further, he suggests that people like being told what to do, making them easily dominable as very few want to take authority over their own lives.

The play itself had some very thoughtful moments and the show does not offer any prescriptions in its prose. Leaving the audience to decide for themselves whether our modern ways are inevitable, worth amending, or simply not up to Chekhov’s standards.

While I left wishing could hear more from Chekhov, this show still makes anachronism undeniably hip.

Image Credit: Circa Theatre

Melbourne: Paint by Colors

Melbourne easily earns the title of one of the hippest little cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Artsy, intellectual, sprawling, and fast-paced, this place is truly world-class. A pal of mine moved to Australia earlier this year, and she has since made Melbourne her home.

We ran all around trying to jam pack the “true Australian experience” into a few days and she was an absolutely phenomenal host. We fed wallabies, caught some awesome films at the St. Kilda Film Festival, watched the tiny blue penguins (600 of them!) come in at dusk on Phillip Island, took in some contemporary galleries, noshed on scones while discussing countries’ “Gross National Coolness” at the Next Wave Festival, and got entirely too little sleep. But oh, it was worth it.

And because photos sometimes tell the story better than words can, I give you the full spectrum of Melbourne – in technicolor!

Kiwis and Cafes and Raptors

Home again. What a whirlwind of a week – full of hiking, exploring, getting lost in, and falling in love with two new places: New Zealand and Australia.

Wellington, heart of New Zealand

First off, let’s chat about New Zealand. Can I just say how incredible the little city of Wellington is? A town bursting with brilliant culture and knowledge-hungry individuals, this waterfront treasure is also New Zealand’s capital.

-Must Do’s-

Te Papa: Usually I won’t spend too much time in museums when travelling abroad since I think diving into the country itself is the best way to learn about its history. But for someone who knew very little about the Kiwi culture, the national museum, Te Papa,  was the perfect crash course to bring me up to speed. It gives you a run down on the native Maori people vs. Europeans, explains that a pretty giant fault line bisects the North and South islands (that’s led to about 4 earthquakes in the past two weeks), and shows that the people take great pride in their gorgeous land. That last one was learned through discussions with people at the museum, not off the notes lining the walls, but needless to say, this place was rad. Oh, and don’t miss the Collosal Squid!

Cafe Culture: Wellington’s well-known for its love of good food and even better places to eat it in. Every cafe has a feel all of its own and serves up everything from delicious mochaccinos with fresh homemade marshmallows to breakfast burritos with ridiculously fresh ingredients. Never a shortage of good places to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or grab a bite to eat.

Wellington’s Waterfront: Vibrant both morning and night, the waterfront is the star of the town. Couples stroll together in the early morning, kayakers make their way into the water by noon, buskers come out to entertain with a song or two by mid afternoon, and runners keep the boardwalk alive well after sundown. And as if that’s not enough, the walk is also dotted with these quotes from writers carved into giant blocks of stone. Finding them all along the waterfront was a fun and wonderful challenge.

Botanical Gardens: At the top of the city sits these gorgeous sprawling gardens. You can take an hour or a few to wander through them and catch some of the best views of the entire downtown Wellington below. Little pink flower stamps mark out the way down the hill so you can find your way through the numerous paths.

Zealandia: Guys, this place was essentially Jurassic Park…minus the raptors. A billionaire botanist decides he wants to turn back the clock and restore New Zealand to what it was thousands of years ago, so he creates a park in order to do so. Did you know all the life on the islands evolved without mammalian predators? Neither did I. What this means is that the birds, reptiles, insects, and plants were the only ones duking it out until the Europeans dropped off a few rats and other hairy creatures on their first voyage there. Meaning the birds here, while not super capable in a possum fight, are some of the most intense and unique I’ve ever seen. And only a degree or two away from raptors.

Wellington stole my heart, but it wasn’t the only one. Stay tuned tomorrow for more about Australia!