First, thanks for your welcome backs. I've read them all in my comments section, but some have never come to me as an email - lost in the switch from Adelphia to Time Warner. I still can't download emails to my desktop, but I can now read new ones online. Please forgive any email misses on my part.
Sadly, our little cat Claude has not come home. The cats stay indoors, so we can only figure that he must have been near an open door and gotten scared out. DH had hired a guy that day to help with planting, so he must have run further up the hill to hide. He was an exceptionally timid cat - he would have never gone exploring. Coming downstairs was a walk on the wild side for him. We have preserve areas behind both sides of our street with lots of nature. I just hope it was mercifully fast. Didn't expect to find another kitty so soon, but this little darling was dropped at the animal shelter and I couldn't resist. She had exactly the temperament for this chaos and is very people oriented. Just what we needed.
Here's something I don't need.
Hum, we've established I need the kitten .... So, it must be another CO. But I did it anyway. That's my eldest's youthful hand, not mine. She's on fall break for two weeks starting today. Thankfully small one remains usefully engaged at her Montessori school. This yarn has been in my stash for years waiting for a lace pattern to make the most of a solid color. While idly leafing through the latest Vogue Knitting I found a pattern using this exact yarn. It's a physically hard knit. The repeats aren't that difficult, but all the knit stitches are made through the back loop. Looks cool, but the tight stitches on fragile toothpicks with yarn that has sticky acrylic in it is slow going. Maybe it's me. Still, I like the pattern a lot. Anyway, here's a better look sans kitten:
Noro sweater is coming along too:
Finally unpacked my Portland stash - and only two weeks after returning - a record I think. I've just realized I have a life-long habit... I unpack clothes, toiletries, etc within a day or two of returning from a trip, but the ephemera sits for (at least) weeks. Sometimes months. Sometimes years. I just don't want to explore the memories while they're that fresh. I think it's because I tend to have post-trip-blues and looking at mementos and photos from just days or even hours before just makes it worse. At the risk of sounding like a rube, I have to admit plane travel still throws me. It's all such a blur of down time and blandness that it's all instantly forgotten. I'm always a little shocked that one minute I'm in one place and then, blink, I'm home and the whole experience in which I was so deeply engaged is suddenly in "the past". Here's the family and house, all the same, but I'm different. Damn this meta-cognition. Must be more zen ... must be more zen ... must be more zen. Of course none of the above means I don't love coming home. My nest and all that. I reserve the right to have completely opposing emotions simultaneously.
I went to Portland to see paper arts friends I've known for over eight years. We're spread across the country (really spread! California, Nebraska, Texas, Ohio, Florida and New Jersey) but keep in touch via mail art and our private Yahoo group. Over the years we've done weekend getaways in Santa Fe, NYC, Cleveland (for the now defunct Art Continuum event) and now Portland for Art & Soul. We all took a class, but the main point was hanging out. Getting together with these women is pure pleasure. No pretenses. No stress. Lots of talk and laughter. Bonus points that we all like to go to art and craft shops.
First thing Saturday morning I persuaded them that the Portland Farmers Market would be worth it. It was.
Whenever I travel I look for markets. I love them all - flea markets, antique markets, arts and crafts markets - but by far my favorites are always the seasonal farmers markets. It's where you see the locals and literally get a taste of their life. It's a bit painful if you don't have access to a kitchen on your trip, but there's always fresh bread, cheese and fruit to make a meal.
I always eat street food. Tony Bourdain and I would travel together fabulously. I'd leave him the nasty bits and he'd give me the veggies. I've eaten from street vendors and hole-in-the-wall shops in Mexico, Greece, Russia, Canada, Paris and London and I'm not dead yet. If there's a line I figure it must be good. Years ago my husband and I had the most amazing sandwich in Toronto that was an unexplainable mix of French pate and Vietnamese salad and spices on a baguette. The line was out the door of the tiny shop and only one other customer was Anglo. We asked him what was good and he said just point at the sign (no English) and say "sandwich". OKayyy. It worked. I've never forgotten that lunch.
Aren't these parsnips beautiful? My kids and I adore parsnips. A potato with more flavor. Oven fry them with oil and salt.
The dahlias were beyond beautiful. It was very overcast and I didn't have a tripod, so I had trouble getting clear shots under the vendors' tents. Still, you get the idea.
This market has made displaying your wares an art form. All the vendors do it, if only to keep up with Farmer Jones in the next stall.
This was my favorite public display of handknitting that day. Yes, I did ask permission from his mama and promised not to show his face.
After the market we went to Powell's. Love that they have the latest titles mixed with resale books. Gives browsing an extra boost because even if you've seen all the latest titles, there still might be something "new" to you. Found out of print Alice Starmore books, but none that I had to have at the price offered. This seemed more practical.
After Powell's lunch was in order. I highly recommend Henry's Tavern. One side is a bar and the other a restaurant. Forgive the dark photos. Two beers probably didn't help my arm, but I did use a pint glass to balance the camera. These crab cakes were amazing. I'm not in love with mashed potatoes but I ate every last bite of these. Sadly, one of our party became very ill (nothing to do with food at Henry's or the market) so we left downtown Portland so she could rest.
Sport that she is (and with hard-earned money burning a hole in her pocket) we drove to Alberta Street to find a bead store (her current hobby). Great thing about Alberta street is that it has fabric, yarn, bead, paper arts, wine and coffee shops. There was something for everyone in our group!
Close Knit is a well stocked and charming store. The women who run it were friendly and approachable. If you live in the area and haven't stopped by go find it. There're are plenty of places to sit and loads of inspiration from floor to ceiling. I'd been wanting this new Mission Falls book. Realized I wanted this Fino lace weight (70% alpaca/30% silk) from Alpaca with a Twist too, I just didn't know it until I held it.
Oh-so-conveniently located right next door is Bolt. Small shop, but very focused on "hip" fabrics, so the space is rich with inspiration if this is your style. Guess it's mine as I have pieces of at least 1/4 of their stock! They also have a nice selection of designer decor weight fabrics which my local quilt stores don't carry. Got this new Amy Butler heavy print there and found the book at my local quilt store when I got home. Perfect match.
I always tried to live in places like this when I was young, single and poor. Funny thing time. Now I'm that middle aged "arty" suburbanite that drops in occasionally to take in the atmosphere and energy.
Hardest part about getting older is that you still see the world through the same eyes. Shaw asked "Oh why is youth wasted on the young?" Trust me, it starts making sense at 40. Something tells me it's not going to stop.
A little more about Art & Soul next time.