Saturday, April 12
I didn’t fall asleep until well after 2:00 a.m. last night. And then I woke up just after 8:00 this morning. Not enough sleep, but the sun was sending its strong rays into my room and my cats were stirring. I got up and put a load of laundry in, then went back to bed. I didn’t sleep, but rested, listening to the soothing sounds of Loreena McKennitt.
Finally, at around 9:45, I got up, made the bed, finished the laundry, ate some oatmeal, fed the kitties and then prepared to enjoy the most beautiful day of the year, to date. I put on a wrap skirt, a little t-shirt, pinned up my hair and grabbed a bag with a change of clothes, a blanket and the bound copy of my book that I’m using to edit. I stopped by Safeway to pick up some fruit, trail mix and terra chips, and then blared some good island music with all of my windows down. It was in the mid-seventies without a cloud in the sky. A happy, relaxed energy swept the roads, the city.
I drove up to Washington Park, taking the zoo exit off of 26 West. It’s a beautiful drive, although packed this weekend with other like-minded visitors, and I drove in traffic past the zoo and toward the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. I drove around and down hill through a neighborhood of some of the most beautiful homes in Portland nested in the hillside, and parked at the bottom near the other entrance to Washington Park. I met Susan near the fountain, up on a sun-facing hillside with beautiful trees all along, many flowering. It was the perfect day! Susan was on a blanket doing some work, I put my blanket down, got settled, hiked up my skirt to get sun on my legs and just took in the beauty of the day.
I worked a little on editing my book and then snacked on some fruit and chips. Susan and I talked about the usual stuff while people watching and marvelling at the pollen floating all over the place, that looked quite beautiful, acutally.
Just after 5, we packed up and headed for a gas station. The light had come on – annoying as I just put twenty bucks in. Anyway. While the gas was getting pumped into my car, I went into the restroom to change into jeans, wedge sandals, a clean t-shirt and a cute, puff-sleved jacket. I touched up my make-up, put in a different pair of earrings, put on my large-framed black sunglasses and drove over to meet Susan and Kerry at Park Kitchen. They were waiting at the bar. I ordered a Manhattan, the mussels with potato and leeks, and the Flank steak salad with blue cheese, parsley and sherried onions.
After dinner, we drove up to SE Milwaukie to the Aladdin Theater to experience LIVE WIRE! We met up with our friend Stephany and her friend, Catherine, both Virginia girls. This evening’s haiku themes were chocolate, lies and chickens. And so we got to work on our 5-7-5 syllable lined poems; I wrote one about lies.
The first show opened with a funny skit by the Faces for Radio Theater cast. A vibrant musical performance by Grand Archives kept the tempo with good guitars, a tambourine and lots of whistling. Next, essayist Cole Gamble, who usually writes about parenting, lectured on why he never enjoyed talking about sports. The highlight of this segment was an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin, probably Portland’s most famous writer. Oddly, I had never read any of her work. After listening to this adorable, engaging legendary writer speak, I was hooked. She talked about when she first started writing in the late 50′s, when she had three small children, when women didn’t write professionally while rearing children. She was an inspiration. I was struck by her mild manner, her humbled demeanor, and her quick wit. While most of her work has been fantasy and science fiction, creating imaginative worlds and challenging the notions of gender, writing to make the reader contemplate our world and our place in the world, she has taken on a new world, historical fiction, in her latest book Lavinia. In this work, Le Guin takes Vergil’s The Aeneid, whose hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. In Vergil’s work, Le Guin reminds that Vergil didn’t give Lavinia a voice in the epic poem, but wrote her in as part of a scene, where he described her blushing. Le Guin espoused to give Lavinia a voice. Here, ‘she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life’.
After her engaging talk, Grand Archives came out to play one more spirited, rousing set. During the intermission I picked up a freshly signed copy of Le Guin’s work, Lavinia.
The second show opened with Alicia J. Rose’s report from South by Southwest, a music conference in downtown Austin, Texas. Rose plays the accordion, takes professional photos and books the music talent at the Doug Fir. Local music talent Laura Veirs took the stage.
Dagoba Chocolate founder Frederick Schilling was interviewed by LIVE WIRE! hose Courtenay Hameister. It was pretty engaging. He did a what goes with chocolate challenge with an audience member, where he ended up happily tasting dark chocolate with guacamole and then with tuna. Schilling, who used to be a chef in Boulder, CO, and now lives in Ashland, Oregon, asserts that chocolate goes with everything.
A bizarre performance by Third Rail Repertory Theater brought two men to the stage in nothing but their boxer shorts. It was a strange scene between a mad man who thinks he’s a chicken and his psychiatrist, who, also behaving like a chicken, seeks to heal his patient by challenging him to act like human as a spy for the animal kingdom. I wasn’t really into it but I was impressed by their excellent interpretation of two cocks.
Laura Viers did two sets to close the show.
After, we met up with two other friends who had been sitting upstairs in the balcony section. We all went up Powell a few blocks to the new Hopworks Urban Brewery. It’s always a challenge for me to enter places that have brewery in the name. Celiac disease makes that a bit tricky so I opted for a glass of bad Pinot and some chicken wings. We were in the late night happy hour – again, this brilliant concept in Portland. Cheap but good eats in the bars and taverns in the last couple hours of operation.
I drove home thinking about perfect days. Today, Susan had given Kerry and me a present – just because, for no real reason, just a sweet token to friendship. Mine was a beautiful purple ring made from beads. I looked at the ring on my finger as my hand guided the steering wheel toward home. I thought about the dreariness that came with the long rain season in western Oregon, and how redemption comes in the form of a day like today. Perfect days are rare gifts, like friendships, like my purple beaded ring. But when they blossom, when they open, it’s cherrished – and you can feel it all around you, you can feel the gratitude. I was basking in the radiance of the gratitude long after the sun went down.