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The analog joy of a Traveler's Notebook meetup.

Stack of Traveler's Notebooks

Today I attended a Traveler’s Notebook meetup at Oblation Papers and Press, Portland’s premiere paper boutique and letterpress studio, and one of my favorite places on Earth.

I bought my first Traveler’s Notebook in May 2010. The first words I wrote in it were, “I know, I know – a new notebook, really?” Yes, really, self. And look at me, eight years later, meeting other people who probably wrote similar sentences in their own similar notebooks.

The future, despite the decidedly dystopian trajectory, can still contain glorious moments of geekery.

A certain giddiness engulfs the soul when surrounded by people who express their creativity with the same tools. I get this feeling in a posse of writers and I got the same feeling today. Our host, Kelly, exuded delight as she remarked on the fascinating ways in which each of us had customized our notebooks. I brought some journaling supplies to share and inked some fountain pens too, but I needn’t have over-prepared because Oblation provided inks to try with dip pens, stamps and ink pads, washi tape, stickers, and goodie bags containing paper samples and other ephemera.

And so our version of a group photo contains zero people. Or does it? Here we are: our notebooks as our avatars, blank canvases turned into journals, into sketchbooks, into planners, into endless possibilities.

This Week

Life

So many things were disrupted this week that I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with the most important: despite a health scare, Zen is okay.

On Thursday morning, Zen started to show signs of discomfort due to constipation, and by the early afternoon her health appeared to have deteriorated rather quickly. Despite our vet being closed due to the weather, we managed to get her an appointment with an emergency vet six miles away. But neither FunkyPlaid nor I could drive due to the state of the roads. Portland’s largest cab company had just stopped answering the phone, and another cab company let me schedule a cab ride hours in advance but then never called to tell me that they were running 30-45 minutes behind schedule. Thank goodness for Lyft drivers with chains and 4-wheel drive.

48 hours of hospitalization later, Zen is starting to approach her old self. She is still worn out from the procedures, but she is eating and drinking and purring and cuddling. Right now she is happily curled up in her favorite cardboard box. Her prognosis is good, especially for a cat about to turn twenty, and I am so grateful.

Of course, I have been a total wreck over this, plus I came down with my own illness on Thursday morning (a standard yet persistent head-cold), so it has not been the greatest of weeks on record.

And then there’s the snowpocalypse. Portland pretty much shut down on Tuesday evening and started to open back up again on Friday morning, but as of this writing the roads in our neighborhood are still packed with snow and ice. FunkyPlaid has been an expert forager, but I’m really, really, really tired of not being able to do basic things like drive to work or even walk to the bus stop safely.

Work

I only had a two-day work week, and although I tried to enjoy the enforced downtime I am fairly stressed about everything that has piled up and is waiting for me tomorrow morning. RescueTime tells me that I have been 50% productive this week, which seems high for being snowed in and having a sick cat and the lurgy.

Media

I was too restless to spend much time reading, but Mini Metro has been an exceptionally good distraction in times of stress. It’s a subway layout game; what’s not to love?

Spotify’s Winter Classical playlist is a treat, especially on snow days.

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/0FUPBhebw9cDI6khiitWpR

As a side note, I upgraded my car’s software so it now has CarPlay, which means I can listen to Spotify on the way to work! If I ever get to drive my car again.

FunkyPlaid and I are almost finished with Luke Cage and are loving the soundtrack too. I also have a lot of reading to do.

On the Internet

twitter.com/cygnoir/s…

twitter.com/GeorgeTak…

www.instagram.com/p/BPIcqDj…

Ink o' the Week

Kaweco Summer Purple: a muted, calming purple. Breathe. Visualize the snow melting away … there, that’s better.

Day 356 of Project 365: Winterbloom.

I had lofty goals to come home and get all of my chores done and pack and take a nice hot bath with custom-made bath salts that a friend gave me … and then I was delayed at work, and all that melted like so much Portland snow. I’m still packing! But in twenty-four hours I’ll be reunited with FunkyPlaid.

When I arrived home, this confused camellia bud greeted me. Happy Solstice!

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: a podcast called “LifeAfter” that I am not quite enjoying.

Day 351 of Project 365: Forward.

After a wearying week of winter weather, bouts of insomnia, and seasonal ennui, I found myself on this path near the end of my morning commute.

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I would like to say that I was 100% thrilled to be going to work this morning, but I was not. I was exhausted and irritated and overwhelmed and pretty daunted by all the slipperiness pictured. I can be pretty idealistic about my profession, but I wasn’t feeling so hot about the logistics, not today.

I started to walk anyway, and as I did I heard the satisfying crunch underfoot and saw the glimmer of the sunrise on the slick outlines of footprints. I moved forward. I did it slowly, but I did move forward.

And it was worth it.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: cars skidding out around the corner.

Day 349 of Project 365: Twelve miles in five hours.

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Here’s how my evening commute went today:

  • 15:15: I decide to stick around past quitting time in order to avoid some of the traffic on snowy roads. This decision has the added benefit of helping out at work a little, too.
  • 16:30: Quitting time comes and goes. Snow continues to fall. I remain unperturbed.
  • 18:00: The library closes early and I leave with two coworkers to walk across the traffic-laden street and get into my car.
  • 18:10: After scraping the windows and warming the car up a bit, I decide to drive around the parking lot a few times to see how the car holds up with the snow. A bit skiddy, but okay.
  • 18:15: I set off on my way home.
  • 18:17: I hit my first patch of ice and experience that fun sliding feeling.
  • 18:18 & 18:19: Two more patches of ice. I get the hint and decide to drive to the transit center and take a bus home instead.
  • 18:50: I finally make it the seven-tenths of a mile to the transit center. I call FunkyPlaid to confirm that I am doing the right thing by leaving my car at the Park & Ride and taking the bus home.
  • 19:00: I approach the bus that appears to be my bus, but it is a driverless, darkened bus, and does nothing to greet me.
  • 19:46: The driver appears and lets us all on the bus. I feel very happy that I am soon going to be home! I am less happy when I watch my phone battery and backup battery drain from 100% and 60% respectively to 0% and 1% without warning. But still pretty happy.
  • 20:21: The bus, unable to make much headway in brutal traffic, gets stuck on a very busy road. Not even a little stuck: properly stuck. And all of the passengers suddenly discover that we have boarded a bus that has no chains. No chains. In a snowstorm.
  • 20:30, 20:40, 20:50: Helpful passengers try to get the bus un-stuck. It is of no use. Other helpful passengers say really encouraging things and share their snacks with people who have said they are hungry. I am reminded that I do like Portland, even when it is a big snow wimp.
  • 21:01: Another bus comes and we all get on it. It is now very full but it has chains and is moving at a proper pace. A fellow passenger strikes up a conversation and we trade commute woes. They are similar; we share solidarity and even bitch about the recent election a little. This takes my mind off the fact that I have not eaten dinner or gone to the restroom in too long. We marvel at the number of cars stranded, apocalypse-style, along the side of the roads.
  • 22:01: The second bus gets stuck, just over a mile from my house. I debate walking and then I watch people attempting to walk down the street and near cars and really falling a lot more than I am comfortable with. The bus driver and another passenger start digging the bus out. My new bus friend is not going to walk; she is going to stick it out. I decide to stick it out with her.
  • 22:50: With all of the passengers crowded toward the back of the bus, crossing fingers and otherwise hoping a lot of hopes right out loud in front of each other (maybe even some bad language, but in a positive way), the bus driver punches it like when I say, "Punch it, Marge!" to myself even though I'm not Marge and have no idea where I got that, "The Simpsons" maybe? He punches it and the bus demurs a whole lot before lurching out into the intersection. We are free! We whoop and holler. It feels a lot like the winning goal in an '80s movie high school sports event.
  • 22:59: My new bus friend waves goodbye and gets off the bus. When I get off the bus, I thank the bus driver and the helpful passenger, and all of my other new bus acquaintances wave goodbye. It is pretty great. I forget that I still have to walk home.
  • 23:00: I remember quickly. The walk sucks. I take a lame photo.
  • 23:15: I walk in the door and Zen yells at me and all is well.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: a loud explosion. Uh-oh, power outages are on the way …

Day 345 of Project 365: Trapped.

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Today was a mess in Portland, downed power lines everywhere, huge branches from trees in the middle of the roads, and chunks of ice melting and dropping. The power was out from just past midnight until nearly sundown. Zen and I huddled together for warmth, when she could tolerate me. And the work party I was looking forward to was canceled due to burst pipes. What a Saturday.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: my own cranky grumblings.

Day 344 of Project 365: Ice capades.

Freezing rain continued to fall overnight, and I couldn’t get my car defrosted enough to drive in this morning. The roads and sidewalks were so icy that it took me twice as long to walk to and from the bus. But look at how photogenic the ice-covered trees are!

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The power has flickered twice this evening already, so I’m going to bed. I hope we all thaw out in the morning.

Writing from: my study in icy Portland, Oregon. Listening to: still more freezing rain.

Day 343 of Project 365: Snow day.

I survived! It was a bit painful waking up at a terribly early time this morning just to catch the bus, but come quitting time I was very glad that I wasn’t driving myself home. Trimet to the rescue! The bus couldn’t go faster than 25 miles an hour due to the chains on the tires, but it got me home safely.

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Writing from: my study in snowy Portland, Oregon. Listening to: ice pellets hitting the window.

Day 324 of Project 365: Lonesome swan.

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We spied this lonesome swan floating in a shop window downtown. But I refuse to be a lonesome swan tonight. FunkyPlaid and I have figured out how to be together on both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, which is more than we’ve had in the recent past. Plus I can’t wait to see what the holidays are like in Portland.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the assorted creatures in this house getting ready for bed.

Day 323 of Project 365: School's out.

FunkyPlaid and I are going on all the dates before he leaves. Tonight we had a late dinner at Kennedy School. In other news, I still can’t take a level photograph.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the soothing soundtrack of AbyssRium.

Day 322 of Project 365: Victorian gloom.

Whew, day four of my six-day workweek is done! This one has been a bit rough. I’ve had to ask a lot of questions about aspects of my job that I wished I already had a handle on. Sometimes I hate asking for help, but then I remind myself that I am only five months in.

FunkyPlaid and I went to dinner tonight and spied this B&B while walking back to the car. It looked like a haunted house, but not in a scary way. It’s a cheerfully haunted house, where the ghosts rearrange books so their titles spell out funny sentences.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid fill the hot-water bottles. Must be time for sleep!

Day 320 of Project 365: The room where it happens.

Tonight V and I went to see Leslie Odom, Jr. at the Newmark. It was exactly what I needed. He was charming, humble, a consummate performer backed by a great band. Bonus: V managed to get seats in the front row of the second balcony. We had an excellent view!

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For those of you who haven’t heard the name before, Leslie Odom, Jr. won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Aaron Burr in “Hamilton”.

Here are some songs that he performed (other than the “Hamilton” selections, of course):

www.youtube.com/watch

www.youtube.com/watch

www.youtube.com/watch

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: guess who?

Day 318 of Project 365: Feline royalty.

FunkyPlaid and I are facing another holiday season apart, due to store business, so we took advantage of our waning time together and explored the city a little tonight. In our wanderings we stumbled across a terrific shop called Flutter and met its resident cat, King.

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Portland is long on whimsical charm, and for that I love it more and more.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the enchanting soundtrack of AbyssRium, a not-game game I’ve been playing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkn1ihTZGtE

Day 316 of Project 365: Years for the first day.

FunkyPlaid and I took a nice long walk in Ladd’s Addition this afternoon. I always feel better after walking and chatting about nothing in particular with FunkyPlaid. The leaves are falling in earnest and soon it will be our first winter in Portland.

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I am so tired that I couldn’t think of a title for this photo, so I let auto-complete decide for me. I typed in “Years” and then one of the next words to pop up and then on until I had a full phrase. It is nonsense but I like it anyway. That is possibly my motto for this entire website.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: myself yawn at 21:30 on a Friday night. Such a party animal.

Day 303 of Project 365: Oak leaves.

FunkyPlaid and I, each with our own ailments, managed to shamble around the neighborhood together just before dusk. We got a great preview of some of our neighbors’ Halloween decorations and scuffed our feet in a bunch of oak leaves.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: Faith No More’s cover of “Easy” because I made a stupid joke and that’s how it goes in this place.

Day 298 of Project 365: Streets of gold.

I dozed off on the bus and woke up to glimpse a huge rainbow in the eastern sky. The color of the sky was so strange that as soon as I hopped off at my stop I stood in the light rain to take a snap. No filters here, just gorgeous autumn sky.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Resist the Tide” by Cynthia Hopkins.

Resist the tide, stand in the water That’s baptism, that’s making light Electricity is proof that there can be A little bit of light in all this darkness

https://open.spotify.com/track/6eqsvk9qyQUCmhr4cCr4ba

Day 287 of Project 365: Storm prep.

We’ve got a big storm headed our way. I was quite innocent about all of this today but my coworkers kept mentioning stocking up on stuff to last through the weekend so I went to Freddy’s after work.

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Not pictured: Halloween candy. The wind blew it into my basket! Yeah, yeah, and I got fruit and vegetables and tins of soup and crackers too.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: the gusts of wind and rain hitting the windows.

Day 284 of Project 365: Leaves afire.

En route to the bus, I snapped a quick photo of some of our lovely autumn foliage.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “The Wind” by Doe Paoro (feat. Adam Rhodes).

https://open.spotify.com/track/5yHovMCC2QiZJYfk1C0BGl

 

Day 280 of Project 365: Bus daze.

This morning began with a packed bus, unusual for my bus stop and for the time of day. The trip got more exciting as the driver detoured around a crash site but missed a turn. Getting us back to our actual route involved a curb-crunching three-point turn and a particularly exciting chug up a steep grade with a proper bottoming-out at the end.

Tonight I was a bit late leaving work. The later bus had unfamiliar people, an unfamiliar driver, and the light was all wrong. How attuned to routine I am, how easily flummoxed by a shift of forty-five minutes.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: FunkyPlaid packing for his trip down south. 😢

Day 279 of Project 365: Moss and bark.

Today’s photo is a bit abstract, since I wasn’t willing to risk dunking my phone (or my whole self) in the creek to get a closer snap. My commute isn’t all urban; I am treated to texturally delectable sights like this one every day. I have to remember that when I’m feeling cranky about all that time on the bus.

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The ending of “The Bone Clocks” took a bleak turn, and I’m struggling to finish the very last pages. But David Mitchell is unarguably talented, and I’ll keep reading his books.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Sol” by Solar Fields.

https://open.spotify.com/track/78s9ENMqB5MBgV8nhP3ogF

Day 278 of Project 365: Portland or Scotland?

The weather today has been blustery in between light bouts of rain, and I am missing Scotland something fierce.

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I wanted to say more on the topic, but I’ve just used my last articulate impulse on mustering my rudimentary Italian to help a new Second Life resident who I discovered crouched on my sofa, dressed like a swashbuckling vampire. I think we may have had a discourse on gender and avatar appearance … but I am likely overestimating my linguistic ability.

Still, when there’s a vampire pirate crouching on your sofa, it’s only polite to try to talk to them. Non è vero?

Writing from: my study in Portland. Or is it Scotland? Listening to: bits and pieces of NFL commentary coming from FunkyPlaid’s study.

Day 273 of Project 365: Pollo Norte.

Shortly after FunkyPlaid and I moved to Portland, our dear friends C and R introduced us to the delicious Mexican-style rotisserie chicken of Pollo Norte. Tonight it was a perfect dinner option for our exhausted, stressed selves.

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I love my job and I am also desperate for the work week to be over. I’ve been on the edge of a cold for days now and could use a Saturday filled with nothing but sleep.

Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: nothing at all.

Day 262 of Project 365: Autumn's arrival.

My favorite podcast, which I know I have mentioned here before, is Judge John Hodgman. In September 7th’s episode “Mommy Nearest”, Judge Hodgman shared this aphorism: “Welcome to how it goes.” He explains that saying it reminds him that “there’s no use complaining or being frustrated with a problem – you’ve just got to decide how to proceed, and do it, because otherwise you’re just idling.”

Thanks, Your Honor.

Weather report! Last week may have been summery, but this weekend has turned autumnal. We’ve got proper rain and leaves are starting to turn and fall. I’m loving it.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Death. Taxes. Hillary.” by Stephen Colbert.

Day 248 of Project 365: Bittersweet nightshade.

Work today was rather instructive: I researched a plant that grows outside the library which turned out to be Solanum dulcamara, also known as bittersweet nightshade. It isn’t as toxic as deadly nightshade, but still isn’t anything you want to be snacking on in a parking lot.

Pretty, though, isn’t it?

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Writing from: my non-toxic study in Portland. Listening to: so much “Prison Break”. It’s over soon, and I’m glad; Season 4 consists mainly of gratuitous vengeance interspersed with structural engineering puzzles. Only not as exciting as I just described it.

Day 247 of Project 365: Missing Scotland.

The heatwave dissipated quickly, leaving behind the merest hint of autumn in the air. A few rainy days in a row were enough to wrangle me into heartier outerwear, and as I attempted to shove a wee bag of blueberries into one of my jacket pockets, my fingers caught on a couple of pieces of paper.

I drew them out and smiled. Two tickets from Lothian Buses, dated last December.

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In this endless and perhaps ill-conceived push to move ever forward, I had not allowed myself anything more than the briefest of glimpses in the rear-view mirror at the landscape – that stark, lush, unforgiving and breathtaking landscape – that had just been left behind.

This is home, and that was home too. The heart bounces between the two like a pinball made of feathers. Things fracture and spin off. That’s okay too.

Writing from: my study in Portland, sort of. Listening to: “Low Hymnal” by Told Slant.

https://open.spotify.com/track/2CUjmgzr23GQ6Hv5DECrbC

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.