It’s trillium time

trilliumraindropsMy recipe for happiness begins here with this flower.  The trillium.  Three white pedals, three broad leaves.  So simple yet so perfect.

Their peak bloom time is brief.  Walking in Forest Park, here in Portland, Oregon – they are busting out all over.  And each one is lovelier than the last.

 

Yesterday I interrupted my routine – stopping in the woods for a walk instead of commuting with thousands on the freeway.  And that made all the difference.  Yes this is a nod to Robert Frost.  And William Stafford – “is there a better moment than now?”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

Oregon Mountain Snow Day

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Mt. Hood Meadows

Coast, Columbia Gorge, mountains, wine country – such abundance and so much to be grateful for here in Oregon.  In 2016 I did a lot of exploring and only barely scratched the surface.  I can’t wait to keep going in 2017…

New Years Eve – my older brother Phil and I opted to explore Oregon’s Mt. Hood ski area.  He skied and I pulled a camera out of the bag that I haven’t used for a while.  I need to sell it but like an ex-lover, I wanted one more day together.

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Crystal cone

We went to Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center – full of friendly, fit, sober, Subaru owners!

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Big brother looking awesome!

Walk with Thee

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As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.

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The True Spirit of Christmas

We have had quite a stretch of wintry weather in Portland over the past week.  When the snow started to fall on Wednesday it started an epic traffic jam throughout the city.

I work at a 523 bed hospital on the west side of the city.  There is a range of hills between the hospital and downtown.  There are limited ways up and over those hills – and Wednesday afternoon’s snowfall combined with everyone desperately trying to get home exactly at 3:00 was too much.

Tales of commutes taking 7-8 hours were common.  Just getting off our campus was taking hours since all the streets surrounding the hospital were jammed.  At one point I went to the parking lot and hospital roads with a big bag of treats to keep these poor souls fed.  I handed out over 200 treats to grateful colleagues.

I was helping with logistics of getting critical clinical staff into work or finding a bed for those who were staying the night.  I witnessed how hard our support teams work to make sure our employees, our guests and our patients are taken care of.  In this blog post I have included pictures of some of those amazing people.

When we realized people couldn’t get home – our kitchen staff went to work cooking up pans and pans of macaroni and cheese.  For guests who couldn’t pay – we gladly gave them a free meal.  We shuttled staff and guests to the nearest transit center so they could get a train home.  Our linen team put together overnight packs with sheets, blankets, towels and toiletry items.

This isn’t my first winter storm event while working at the hospital but it goes down as one of the most memorable and the most heart warming.  The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

Sense of Place – Astoria, Oregon

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With no destination in mind – but with a firm desire to road trip – I left my last meeting on Friday with only the open road before me.  I had to get home from Dash Point, Washington to Portland.  This is a quarterly trip so I was used to the routine of getting on I-5 south.  Part of me wanted to get home and be a responsible leaf-raking home owner.

For no reason that I can explain, just north of Centralia I veered off the freeway and headed to the coast.  Ironically – the retreat I had been just attending was all about decision making. My head was full of ethical discernments.  This was spontaneous – absolutely no discerning other than seeing a road sign saying “Aberdeen/Raymond” next exit.

Taking all the anticipation out of this road trip tale – I ended up in Astoria, Oregon for 2 days.  Best decision I have made in quite some time – I must have learned something at that retreat.

Some of the highlights:

Early morning photo shooting in Astoria and exploring this wonderful and historic town – founded in 1811!

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Early morning at the Cannery Hotel

Wave watching at Cape Disappointment (not disappointing!!)

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Buoy Beer for dinner

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And finally, there is this little church about 2 miles west of the Astoria Megler bridge on the way to Ilwaco, Washington that I have passed a hundred times.  It’s in the middle of nowhere but is beautiful in its simplicity and isolation.  I have regretted never stopping and learning the story of this church by the sea.  I stopped.

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St. Mary’s Church, McGowan, Washington

History fans (I am one!) should read Peter Stark’s Astoria – recently released in paperback – for a closer look at the early years of Astoria.

Astoria has transformed from river city with an economy and industry (most significantly fish canneries) reliant on the Columbia River – to an artistic corner of Oregon – focused on tourism and the two mainstays of Oregon – beer and coffee.

The Columbia River is still a strong force.  Cargo ships provide entertainment as their huge hulks pass by the waterfront. And the nautical history is never far away – including the Flavel House Museum (George Flavel was the Columbia’s first river pilot back in 1850).  But you are more likely to see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on area menu’s than Columbia River salmon.

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Goodbye November, 2016

spainportugal3-816-editIt’s winter in Oregon now.  Not officially – the calendar has its own rules and the official start of winter is still 21 days away.  But storms are rolling into the Pacific Northwest.  Last week we had 3-4 inches of rain.  The mountain passes require traction devices.  Our local outdoor store, REI, is sending me emails reminding me to buy snowshoes and winter parka’s.

Instead I nourish my winter soul with a walk down this lane in Obidos, Portugal.  This is what morning looks like in Obidos.  In a few hours this quiet lane will be filled with hundreds of tourists.  Obidos is a beautiful walled town – wonderfully preserved with gorgeous light and color.  A photographer’s dream.

I love early mornings when I travel.  I love to see foreign places wake up… delivery trucks and street cleaners are so much more romantic away from home.  On a rainy Portland day – dark and dreary – I am going to pause and step into this picture.  Remember the hours I wandered the blissfully quiet streets of Obidos.