snow day

former coffee tablescape

As snow blankets and muffles Portland, I've been home on the sofa, feet up, my cat curled on my legs, savoring this rare snow day, taking time to reflect and refocus. I'm a natural-born, formally trained critic with big, brown dagger eyes and a razor tongue, who often forgets to retract her claws, to smile and say thank you.

Though today goes unpaid, I'm grateful for the extra, unexpected hours here at home since yesterday afternoon—home, my favorite place—and so what if the video-game-controller-throwing-and-swearing neighbor dude upstairs has a fondness for bass-heavy beats, making me fantasize about banging on the ceiling with a broom, while knowing I should just gather the balls to walk the flight up, knock on the door, and politely ask him to turn things down? (CafĂ© de Paris simply can't compete.)

pigeons foraging on downtown MAX rails

winter-white orchid

As snow flurries have fallen and whipped in the wind for the second day in a row, I'm grateful for working heat and gas, for being home during daylight hours (!), for food in the fridge, and for the winter-white orchid sitting on my coffee table that has not one but two stems of blooms, a two-for-one orchid jackpot.

current coffee tablescape

And this rare regional snow we're having means the Cascade snowpack will have grown several feet by storm's end, meaning we're in much-reduced risk of a drought like the one engulfing California, my beloved natal state whose water levels are the worst in 500 years, a terrible omen for future food prices, considering how much U.S. produce and dairy comes from California. Alas that the early-spring buds I photographed last weekend have since frozen, casualties of this upslung tropical moisture called the Pineapple Express, mixed with Arctic air, but at least Oregon now has a bigger cache of frozen water, high in the mountains, held in reserve.

snowy windowsill
(And please, snow veterans, do give Portland a break from all the city-shuts-down-at-first-snowflake talk. Unlike other parts of the West, Midwest, Northeast, or even Eastern Oregon where I grew up, this town isn't equipped for snow and, quite interestingly, never has been. In 2008, I remember watching someone cross-country skiing—as some are doing this weekend and will do in Southeast tomorrow—down the middle of an empty, snowed-in street and seeing another steep hilly street turned into the neighborhood sledding spot in Northeast Portland during the freak December snowstorm, when traffic halted for days in a city with few snowplows, businesses lacking rock salt or sand, and homeowners without snow shovels.) 

early-spring leaf bud, February 1, 2014

Looking beyond the snow, I am grateful for the visual inspiration devoured each precious weekend on sites such as Rue Magazine, Anthology Magazine, and Kinfolk Magazine. I'm thankful for regular people willing to share the mundane beautiful bits of their lives like the artistic duo of 3191 Miles Apart, whom I've admired for years, as well as the varied creatives around the world whose homes are profiled each week on Design*Sponge. They remind me that creativity can happen in an instant, beauty in a moment, and that it can also take years of hard work—and that it's worth it.

Portland graffiti advice

freeway-bridge graffiti

I'm inspired as well by the consistently good writing on blogs like Sweet Juniper, Orangette, and (my friend Carol's) Hellish Handbasket, as well as the library books that feed me each week. I'm currently reading Northwest author Cheryl Strayed's bestselling Wild, memoir of her summer solo-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when in her mid-20's, a feat that strikes me as both blazingly brave and fantastically stupid. Next up on my library queue is Strayed's collection of advice columns, Tiny Beautiful Things, acclaimed for its author's vulnerability. I'm also humbled and grateful friends and family keep encouraging me to write—to really write, aside from this chattering blog. And I'm thankful for this blog as a practice. Writing is nothing but practice.

dirty handprints

And finally, I'm thankful I didn't come home the other night to a dead pet or the sirens and flashing lights of a fire truck, my cat having jumped down from one of her favorite perches atop the kitchen cabinets, accidentally kicking one of the gas-stove burners on. Unlit, the eggy gas had permeated the apartment for who knows how long. Coming home from work, I could smell sulfur all the way down the hall, wondering which neighbor had the leak. Um, me. Before I could rush back down to the teachers strike vote rally with my camera, I first had to fling open all the windows on a 20-degree night to air the place out and then tape down all the stove knobs with masking tape, a temporary fix. (Anyone have any other ideas?) At least I haven't yet been found dead in my sleep, killed unintentionally by my cat. So there's that.

spring flower buds, February 1, 2014

Spring will come. Cherish this now.

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