Back to Astoria

Life is blessed is many ways.  Recently I have been taking every opportunity to appreciate the simple daily joys and blessings.  For me it is that first sip of coffee in the morning.  For you it might be tea or another beverage – but there is something about the reawakening that happens in that morning ritual.  And I take a moment every day to be grateful for this simple pleasure.


For the past two years, I have been travelling closer to home – which in my case is the upper left corner of the United States.  The Pacific Northwest.  Like my daily rituals, I had not appreciated the beauty and history in my own backyard.

Sunrise on the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

A few months back I posted about Astoria – which is the oldest (and wettest) city in Oregon.  Founded in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company – it has a rich and colorful history.  I am reading the book, Astoria by Peter Stark which I highly recommend. 

Early morning in Uniontown neighborhood in Astoria.

I stay in the Uniontown neighborhood, which was the largest Finnish settlement west of the Mississippi.  There are cozy coffeeshops, homes nestled into the hillside, and the masive Astoria Megler bridge – which traverses the mouth of the Columbia River.

Nearby is the Fisherman’s Memorial, a wall of names immortalizing the many lives touched by Astoria’s stormy relationship with the meeting of two massive forces – the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

I am so blessed to live in this corner of the world.



Happy Thanksgiving

We should do this holiday more often!  A day dedicated to gratitude and eating food with family and friends deserves to be celebrated more than once a year!

On Instagram (@thistleamy) I have devoted this month’s pictures and my picture taking to gratitude.  Here is what I am celebrating in November, 2016 (always subject to change) – this could also be put to song by Julie Andrews…

Fall colors…


Winter storms at the Oregon Coast


My running shoes – they keep my feet happy!


Coffee (cheesy but so true)



Great bookstores like Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon and City Lights in San Francisco


Birds and bird watching


Beautiful bridges (we have many in Oregon)


And I do love German beer…


So much to be thankful for… most important of all.. my family and friends and all the wonderful people in my life.

And thank you! For reading, for contributing to our creative community that spans the world!




How freaky is life?


On the eve of our presidential election – I am doing what I can to focus on the distant horizon.  Or distract myself processing pictures from my recent trip.  One of these pictures of a young couple stopped on the sidewalk of Barcelona gazing up at the Sagrada Familia – had me humming the Four Seasons song “You’re too good to be true… can’t take my eyes off of you.”

That lyric just rang true for me when looking at this picture.  How many times have we been stopped in our tracks while traveling – stunned by the marvel in front of us?  Although the Sagrada Familia is not my favorite sight or even my favorite cathedral – I understand its magnetic draw.  It is really hard to not stare it.

So hearing that song a mere 15 minutes later on the coffee shop radio – made me think how freaky life is.  We don’t stop enough and just set our eyes on something marvelous.  Something we can’t take our eyes off of…

Portugal. Go. Now.

You know that feeling when you are first falling in love?  The giddiness?  How the whole world looks better because you have this awesome warm glow all the time?  That may be how I feel about Portugal.  And this guy below – St. Jorge.

This was my first long trip in over 10 years – when I say long – I mean a trip over two weeks.  Investing in the time and money to get to Europe from the west coast of the U.S. is substantial and I have made several trips over the past 10 years – they have been at most 11 days.  Which just isn’t long enough.  Two and a half weeks isn’t long enough.


But it was long enough to fall in love with Portugal.  The people, the natural sights, the beaches, the churches, the food…. if you only go to Portugal to eat Nata’s it will be worth it.

Our first night in Lisbon we walked through the lovely Alfama neighborhood up to the Caste of St. Jorge (I love the Portuguese spelling by the way).  And that’s where this guy hangs out.  He is the king of his castle and master of his domain.

The castle is impressive and always brings out the 13 year old make believe child in me.  But the views are better.  You can see across the huge estuary of the Tejo River – ferry boats criss crossing and Lisbon has several impressive bridges – including a Golden Gate look a like suspension bridge.  Red roofs as far as the eye can see, which at sunset glows like no other city I have been to.  We watched the sun say goodbye to Lisbon from the castle walls – our faces smiling and glowing with the magical color of the Portuguese sun.


A great moment but the walk down after sunset was even more memorable.  Tiny curvy streets with cute little hole in the wall restaurants and bars.  Laughing Portuguese families and couples – I want to move here.  We had a great meal in one of these that caught our eye – great wine, olives, cheese, bacalao (Portugese national dish), a little more wine.

Then a long saunter down through the neighborhood.  We stopped to listen to a Fado singer – and peered into numerous lively restaurants – “we have to come back here…” we exclaimed.  Happy Lisboetas wandered with us as we got lost and found again on our way back to our apartment.  Is this really Sunday night in Lisbon?