Friday, October 23, 2009

Rains Have Come Early to Portland

So where is drizzle that I keep hearing about? The rains here have been heavy since very early this morning. Beau and I were supposed to take a leisurely hike today with Mike and his dog, Duncan, today. So that's cancelled. We'll do shopping errands instead. And my buddy Ivy is at home nursing a nasty cold which has caused the cancellation of our drink date tonight. So far the rain isn't bothering me, but it's only the beginning of the rainy season. Keep an eye on my mood as the season progresses.

I recently bought a large bunch of carrots at the farmer's market in Beaverton. The color of these carrots (a gorgeous beet red and orange in a tortoise shell-like pattern) was so arresting I had to have them. When I peeled them later they still had that amazing pattern to them which remained even after they were cooked. And they tasted sensational.

The rest of the weekend has been spent resting because an impingement in my shoulder that has caused me low-level pain for the past five or six years, suddenly flared up, becoming very painful and not permitting me much movement without severe discomfort. My friend Kent came to pick me up to go to the farmer's market, and to Costco for supplies. I got home and put everything away and made myself some lunch. Beau hadn't had a walk earlier in the day, so I decided to give him a good long stroll in the beautiful fall-like weather.

We headed over towards the small commercial center of the neighborhood where my furniture restorer, the upholsterer, a small market, a gas station, a barber shop, a tavern and my buddy, John's coffee and pizza shop are located. There's also a chocolatier, who makes excellent chocolate truffles and a crappy junk shop that has the word "treasures" in its name (it truly is filled with crap that nobody would want) are at the end of the block.

I bumped into John who asked me if I might be interested in helping him with some promotion for his pizza business. I sorta know how to do restaurant PR, but it's not something that I do, and so I told him I might try something for no money, just to check it out, and free pizza. We'll talk further, but it did give me an opening to talk about his business. Like everyone else, John has been hit bad by the poor economy (Oregon has the second highest unemployment in the country). By day his business is coffee, breakfast, light snacks and sandwiches. He serves outstanding Stumptown coffee. But the place is gloomy inside, and not conducive to bringing in new business. He told me about the shop next to his that he also leases, but right now it's used mostly for storage. He would like to open a lounge, which I told him was a fantastic idea. The neighborhood is getting younger as more and more young people move in. Houses are for sale and have changed hands. They need a place to come locally to socialize. He's got a designer/contractor who has some good ideas that don't require a huge wholesale renovation of his space. I hope he does it. I'd like to be involved, and so we'll talk further.

A few doors down is the local tavern which more college-like. I doubt they would know how to make a decent martini, or pour a drinkable glass of wine. Beau and I began to pass by when a couple sitting outside at a table stopped to inquire about Beau and pet him. Beau is often an opening for conversation. I met a lovely couple. Gary, is a handsome man in his 60s. His wife, whose name escapes me at the moment, is a Brit and sports an arresting pair of yellow glasses with brown spots on them--very cutting edge. Gary is an artist who specializes in big public art projects and is a specialist in forming steel into art. He's part of a studio of a prominent artist artist who has done created a lot of public works in the Portland area. I sat down and had a glass of wine with them and spent a pleasant hour talking with them about art, renovation, moving to Portland, and the ever-present rainy season coming. I'm told that people consider you a weeny if you run around in the rain with an umbrella. Well the hell with that. If it is coming down hard enough, I'm gong to be under an umbrella! While we talked, Beau sprawled out in his best imitation of a wild lion's rug, attracting more admirers.

Today I have been reading SLOW: Life In a Tuscan Town by filmmaker, photographer Douglas Gayeton. It's a gorgeous photography book that focuses on the lives of the people in a small town in Tuscany where he lived for a number of years. Initially he was asked to do a documentary on the Slow Food movement in Italy for PBS. For those who don't know what Slow Food is an international movement, begun in Italy, dedicated to preserving local food, traditions and honoring local farmers and producers. It's best known advocate in the United States is Alice Waters, co-owner of Chez Panisse, the famous restaurant in Berkeley, California. Gayeton never did the documentary and instead, took photos of the locals in a small town called Pistoia. He ended up merging several shots of each photo session into a sort-of collage, which he then wrote on, giving each a kind of narrative that makes the images seem alive. As you go through the book Gayeton's photographs and text show this slower pace of life as he discovers local customs and behavior, learns of the food purveyors who forage for wild greens for salads, truffle and mushrooms, raise and slaughter pigs for eating, make wine, local cheeses, raise chickens for eggs, and produce chocolate, and other edibles. Each person in this town knows exactly where the food he or she eats comes from. It's a way of life most of us don't know at all. The book is selling very well, the publisher tells me. I can see why. It's very special with its sepia prints, and visually stunning design.

Gayeton's book reminds me of how my life has slowed down. I seem to have a heightened awareness of so many things I ignored in the hustle and bustle of New York City living. I am totally absorbed with the squirrels in my back yard, the aggressive Blue Jays that steal the peanuts I put out for the squirrels. I like looking at people's houses and gardens, marveling at their imaginative house pride. I talk to my neighbors on my walks with Beau, mostly because he seems to attract admirers everywhere we go. I have some neighbors who have about seven dogs. The mother has a grown daughter who also lives there with her boyfriend, and baby daughter. There are others living in the house, but I don't know them yet. The mother and daughter are very involved in rescuing dogs and are constantly finding dogs that have managed to escape from back yards or are abandoned. Within hours, most of the missing dogs are reunited with their frantic owners, but a lot of them are picked up just wandering around in traffic and they help get them safely caught, tend to any medical needs, and work their network to get the dogs fostered or adopted. They also love Halloween, and their front yard reflects their love of decorating in a ghoulish way. Makes me impatient for all the craziness that goes on for Halloween. And speaking of Halloween, I'm going to a party for the first time in years.
I'm not saying that I prefer one life to another. I lived in New York for nearly four decades. And right now, I'm very much caught up in my new life here.

No comments:

Post a Comment