On Leaving Portland

IMG_1278The original title I had written for this post was “On Moving to Vallejo”. But as I am currently sitting on the floor of our bedroom, the contents of our apartment stuffed into two storage pods parked outside, on our final day in the city that we moved to three and a half years ago, what feels most relevant is that to actually move to Vallejo…we have to leave Portland. And we love Portland.

I should back up. Remember that long post I wrote about our search for a house to rent in Portland, how I fell in love with one last December that we came very close to getting, but didn’t, and it left me feeling kind of defeated? Well, it’s a good thing someone else rented that perfect house with the yard on Ramona Street, because in January, Joe was given an interview for a PA school in Vallejo, California. It was the last school he had applied to, almost as an afterthought. With just 44 seats in the class and 250 people interviewing, we knew it was a long shot, but we also knew it was possible. That this could be his chance.

After a two-week process in which we conducted mock interview after mock interview in our living room and strategized answers to every possible question we could think of, Joe flew to California with a stack of flashcards, his suit, and a new pair of dress shoes. I said a few prayers to whatever Gods might be listening and hoped, hoped, hoped. We’d gone for dinner with our friend Sam two nights before and when we told him the odds that Joe was facing, he said, “But they invited you to interview. They must have seen something in you from your application. So the opportunity is there.”

These words stayed with me, and when doubts cropped up, I clung to them, and reminded Joe of them. The opportunity is there. Continue reading

Cottage Grove Getaway

IMG_1252.jpgSometime in the last few years, Joe and I started a tradition of giving each other ‘experience’ gifts for Christmas instead of tangible ones. We each plan an activity/date to do together and then present the gift in some sort of creative way.

While brainstorming ideas for Joe’s gift this past December, I went down an internet rabbit hole that led me to a town called Cottage Grove — the ‘Covered Bridge Capital’ of Oregon.

Hmm, I thought. Covered bridges…

As some of you know, Joe and I had our wedding photos taken under a covered bridge. While I had envisioned our photo session taking place on the beach and in the forest (sunlight glowing…during ‘golden hour’…), a typhoon storm blew into Oregon on our wedding day, making outdoor photos impossible. Thankfully Joe and our friend Steve discovered a covered bridge in the area, so after our ceremony, we drove to it, and my best friend Melissa worked her camera magic for an hour while we stood under the bridge.

It was literally our shelter in the storm.

High Res C&J full bridge.jpgWhich, in thinking about it now, is a pretty good metaphor for marriage. Life can be tough, right? Having Joe alongside me to weather the ups and downs really does feel like having permanent shelter.

So, when I found out there was a ‘Covered Bridge Capital’ in Oregon, it seemed like a fun idea for his gift. I started searching Airbnb (a favourite pastime), and came across this adorable tiny cottage. Rustic! Rural! On a farm with animals! I was sold. Continue reading

‘Round the Web: April 2016

FullSizeRender (23).jpgHow’s everyone doing?

Joe and I are taking off later today to spend the weekend at this very rustic cottage on a farm outside of Cottage Grove, two hours south of Portland. (This was my ‘experience’ gift to him for Christmas…so we’ve been looking forward to it since December!) The plan is to do a little bike tour to six covered bridges in the area, explore Cottage Grove, have a picnic at Dorena Lake, and of course chill at the cottage (found on Airbnb).

On Sunday the owners are going to give us a tour of their farm, complete with geese, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. If I’m on the ball I’ll take some photos of our trip and share them in a post sometime next week. :)

Until then, a few links for your Friday/weekend browsing…

* Ijeoma Oluo on why Beyonce’s Lemonade is about much more than infidelity.

* Raising men who do housework.

* Every interaction between two strangers walking dogs ever.

How ’empowerment’ became something for women to buy.

* Why everyone on TV has the same hair.

* Five spring hikes within two hours of Portland.

* “Stop telling me I should have kids.”

* Excited to start reading this book this weekend.

* How about this ‘chore date’ idea? I think I’m into it.

* Lastly, let’s bubble wrap this man :)

xx ~C.

A New Way to Look at Creative Frustration

188HI finally got my hands on a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic” from my local library a few weeks ago, and have been stealing a little time before sleep most nights to absorb her refreshing perspective on creativity.

The book is packed with insight on how to push through fears that create creative blocks, how to get over perfectionism, and most of all how to stop taking ourselves and our creativity — of all forms — so seriously. Reading it is like feeling a cool breeze through a suddenly cracked-open window while you’re sweating it out in a hot chamber of creative angst. Not that I’ve been feeling that particular kind of angst as of late, but I certainly have in the past, and will no doubt again. It comes with the territory.

One of the underlying ideas Gilbert expounds on is that Continue reading

Line Break: ‘A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life’ by Rose Cook

photo-1452914793772-af331bf6e4b6.jpegThis is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over,
as someone who is juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.

*

Rose Cook is an English poet. This poem is from her collection Notes From a Bright Field, published in 2013.

California Dreaming

IMG_1112Starting a story about California with a picture of palm trees is highly unoriginal, but I decided I don’t care. I like palm trees. I like the wild shapes their leaves make against the clouds, and the patterns of the bark, wrapping in circles from the earth to the sky, and how their refusal to look like anything else on the planet makes you feel like you’re somewhere exotic when you spot one, even if where you are is a city on the west coast of America.

But then, this isn’t just any city.

This is San Francisco.

And I realized, while we were there, that I am in love with it.

IMG_1056 (1).jpg Continue reading

‘Round the Web: March 2016

photo-1417721955552-a49ac2d334e8 (1).jpegHi all, I’m back from our trip to California and ready to head into April…but not without saying goodbye to March with a little ‘Round the Web action! I’ll be sharing some photos from SF next week, but until then…

* This incredible home makeover made me cry

Honest Illustrations About Adulthood

* Have you see James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” sessions? It’s new to me, but the most recent one is with Jennifer Lopez, and it’s highly entertaining. J. Lo seems so fun and cool!

* 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

* This penguin and this 71-year-old man know how to do friendship

* Great tips on how to shop for clothes…in a way that’s socially responsible

* Wow, what an inspiring list of 50 + films about women

* If it’s been a while since you had a deep belly laugh, I recommend reading David Sedaris’ latest essay The Perfect Fit. It’s hysterical.

* Lastly, for the ladies…10 Common Bra Problems, Solved

xo ~C.

Image by Paula Borowska

Weekend in San Francisco

photo-1416184008836-5486f3e2cf58 (1).jpegWhen I was in high school, one of my big dreams was to live in San Francisco with my friend Stu. We had some sort of 60s-era fantasy about being wild and free flower children, letting our creativity blossom and our destiny flow.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties, when I finally did visit the city, with my mom. The trip was in celebration of her turning 50, and we stayed at a cool hotel called The Cosmo (I think) which had a complimentary wine hour in the lounge every afternoon, ate dinner in The Mission, and browsed the shops. I loved the city, and always hoped I’d return. Continue reading

A Leg Up

In honour of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (earlier this week).

I’m so grateful for all the strong, kind, wise women in my life. Let’s keep on supporting and encouraging each other, always.

xox ~C.

p.s. What Women Find in Friends and Relationship Wisdom from My Ladies

Line Break: ‘Birdcalls’ by Anders Carlson-Wee

photo-1434871619871-1f315a50efba.jpegI crept around the dark train yard
while my brother watched for bulls.
Two days deep into the Badlands
and all our water gone. We had a birdcall
for if you saw something and another
for if you heard. A silent yard eight strings wide
with a few junkers parked. The horizon
a dull burn. The rails lit dimly by dew.
I was looking for the water bottles
the conductors used and threw out the windows
with maybe a sip left inside them.
I found one by stepping on it.
I sucked it like a leech. I stumbled
up and down the ballast and found five more,
unbuttoning my shirt and nesting them
against my chest upright and capless.
We had the sandpiper for if you should run
and the flycatcher for if you should hide.
I can’t remember why we had the loon.
I crouched in the space between coal trains,
cradling the bottles and feeling the weight
of how little I had to spill.
I rubbed coal on my face. I felt crazy.
I thought about being found like this.
I tried to imagine what my story would be.
A version with my brother in it.
A version with no brother. I swear
I could smell rain a thousand miles away.
I could smell rain in the soot. I folded my hands
around my lips and made the gray ghost,
which told him where I was.
And also meant stay alert.
And also meant some other things
only owls understood.

***

Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of the chapbook Dynamite and a 2015 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow. He holds an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt University and, from what I’ve read about him, has spent a lot of time on freight trains. If you like this poem, I recommend checking out more of his work, as well as this interview he did with Sonora Review. He’s a fascinating character.

Riding the Highline is a short film Carlson-Wee made with his brother Kai, also a poet, documenting their train-hopping journeys.

(Top photo by Dmitrii Vaccinium)
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