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

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

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

Portland Home Tour: Lesia + Sean’s Light-filled Pearl District Studio

DSC_0179.jpgI love discovering how other people live: How they decorate their space, how they spend their downtime, what their habits and rituals are…you get the idea. Maybe I’m nosy? (I prefer to think of it as naturally curious.) People are just so fascinating! And since our homes often reflect a lot about who we are, I’m always intrigued to see “inside”. So I’m thrilled to feature my second-ever Home Tour today, bringing you into the Portland apartment of my friends Lesia and Sean.

DSC_0254.jpgLesia is an account executive at influencer marketing platform company Little Bird and a photographer, and Sean is a visual artist. They live with their dog Bosco in a 636 sq ft studio in the Crane Lofts building in Portland’s Pearl District. Built in 1909, the building was completely restored and renovated in 2006, and features massive windows and beautiful red brick walls.

Here, Lesia and I chat about what it’s like living with her own Bob Ross, entertaining in a small space, how she makes her home smell great,  and what she daydreams about while gazing out their giant windows… Continue reading

Inside Portland’s (One and Only) Cat Lounge

IMG_1814

This winter was the rainiest in Portland since Joe and I moved here, with a streak of 25 days of rain in December — the wettest month ever recorded in the city’s history.

I grew up in rainy Victoria, B.C. and love the Pacific Northwest, so I’m no stranger to wet days. But this was a LOT of rain. Combined with the short days and dark looming by 4 pm, the weather started to feel a touch limiting. Working from home, I love/need to spend time outside, especially on weekends, partly for the dose of nature and fresh air but also so I don’t become a total hermit. (I am definitely one of those half introvert/half extrovert people…but winter tends to play up my introvert side.)

What are your rainy season activities? Joe and I have been watching lots of movies (not to mention the series Master of None, Making a Murderer, and Transparent season two), reading books, playing board games (in which he continues to kick my ass at scrabble, don’t get me started), de-cluttering the apartment…but recently a twinge of cabin fever had me craving something totally different. I wanted to visit somewhere in Portland we had never been, in a part of town we don’t usually hang out in. I wanted to shake things up and do something weird. I researched a bunch of options and came up with a random list of ideas for what became our ‘weird day’ mission, which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Top of the list: Purringtons Cat Lounge.

IMG_1842

Purringtons is a cafe in Northeast Portland where people go to hang out with cats. Cat cafes are popular in Korea, so I had heard of them while living there, but I never visited one which, looking back, was a total missed opportunity. Now they’re popping up all over North America! Purringtons opened just over a year ago, and it’s Oregon’s first-ever cat cafe. Continue reading

By Chance: Searching for Home in the City of Bridges

a7548b60254e7c79f122a8467209f14a

Until about a year ago, it never occurred to me to live in a house.

Apartments? Of course. A one-bedroom suite in a character home? Check. A studio in Busan, Korea, that sat six floors above a convenience store selling 12 different kinds of soy sauce? Not so long ago.

But a house — a real house with walls you don’t share with neighbors and a backyard you can walk out onto on a sunny afternoon, if you want, and tend to a tomato plant you’ve grown or read a book on a blanket on the grass; a house with a spare bedroom and a porch and a front door to open wide and let the breeze blow through — this was the kind of home other people lived in. People at “that stage” of life. People with advanced careers and extra cash. People with kids. Continue reading

Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run

Any of you listening to Half Moon Run these days?

A couple different friends raved about this Canadian indie band after seeing them perform at Rifflandia (a music festival in Victoria, B.C.) in 2014, and they’ve been on my radar ever since. They’ve got folk elements like three-part harmonies, but are edgier, using a lot of percussion. In a few songs, I hear a touch of a Radiohead vibe.

Half Moon Run is currently touring the US, and as part of my Christmas present,
Joe got us tickets to see them play tonight at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland! It’s one of those intimate basement venues — the kind your favourite band plays at before it gets huge and only does stadiums. Very, very stoked about this show.

Check them out in this 2013 performance of “Call Me in the Afternoon” in Brussels and you’ll see what I mean about the percussion. If the energy of tonight’s show is anything like this, I’ll be loving it.

landscape-music-half-moon-run-03

Happy Friday, everyone. Hope you have a good one. :)

(Top photo via The Guardian, bottom photo via digitalspy.)

Vashon Island Getaway (or how to combat the winter blues)

 

IMG_1781I don’t know about you guys, but for me, November hasn’t proven, historically, to be the happiest month of the year.

The days get dark. That ‘look out the window at 4 pm and the day is basically over’ kind of dark.

The sun slips into its winter cocoon, peeking out only when it’s in the mood. (With little to no consideration for the moods of the rest of us.)

Time outside becomes limited to wet walks among bloom-less branches.

And the Western world decides it’s time to flip a switch that screams HOLIDAYS! MUST. CELEBRATE. HOLIDAYS!!!!!!! (That is the last time I will ever use all caps for multiple words and more than one exclamation mark at a time, I promise.)

To combat the somewhat SAD syndrome last year, Joe and I bought a sun lamp, which I think did actually help, and which I might dig out of the cupboard again in the coming weeks.

But this year, with November looming, I opted for a more aggressive approach: Book an escape to a cottage on an island with my best friend.

IMG_0790

I am here to say to all of you, Continue reading

Thoughts on Living in the ‘Land of the Free’

photo-1434077471918-4ea96e6e45d5 (1)There was another mass shooting in the U.S. yesterday—14 dead and 17 wounded in San Bernardino, California—by a man and a woman, now also dead.

But that’s not news.

News is something new. Mass shootings happen every day in America.

I don’t mean ‘every day’ in the figurative sense. I mean literally every day. In fact, according to yesterday’s article in the New York Times, titled ‘How Often Do Mass Shootings Occur?”:

“More than one a day. That is how often, on average, shootings that left four or more people wounded or dead occurred in the United States this year, according to compilations of episodes derived from news reports.  . . . a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in such attacks this year, many of which occurred on streets or in public settings.”

When I moved to Portland three years ago, at the forefront of my mind was creating a life here with my then-fiance (now husband) Joe, who happens to be American. Continue reading