Friday, August 17, 2012

2012 Update

Hello All!

I have effectively abandoned this particular blog, as I'm no longer "on the road" - but I do want to keep it live for archive purposes. If you would like to read about and see pictures of the Camino Santiago or The Longest Walk, all of those ramblings are in the 2008 archives.

If you want to see more current posts and happenings - you can go to my website at for all the latest revelry and insight into my comings and goings as well as selected essays about my journeys.

Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where were we? was some time in 2009, and here it is the end of 2011.

Well, nevermind, it probably wasn't important at all.

In other news, after a long absence from this particular forum, I am looking to recommit to at least some form of maintenance on this blog while my new website is under construction (it's been that way for a couple of years, but now I actually have someone working on it!).

We'll keep this post short and sweet and give you a brief summary of the goings on.

I am:

Living out in Clackamas County, Oregon and loving the peace and quiet.

Working as a Feature Editor for Spot Magazine, where I've been writing for the past year.

Volunteering for the animal rescue group Fences For Fido by helping with builds and writing their bi-monthly newsletter.

Taking horseback riding lessons, and enjoying that very much.

Taking drum lessons when time affords and also enjoying that.


Check back with you soon. Here's a picture of the new digs!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Continuing on....

When we last spoke, I was telling you about how I cruise the bookshelves at Powell's City of Books and then head down the street to the Central Library to borrow stuff I like instead of purchasing it. It's a great system...saves me a ton of money obviously as well as the shelf space in my room.

I love the Central Library - Portland's got a terrific library system; it seems you can't walk through a neighborhood here in town without running into one of the sixteen libraries that make up the whole. Here's a fun fact for you: Multnomah County Library is the oldest library system west of the Mississippi, first established in 1864. The Central Library, located right downtown, was built in 1913 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It underwent a thorough renovation about 60 years ago but still retains that historic, solid feel to it. They don't tell you how many books they have at this one building, but they will tell you there are nearly 900 TONS of them. You can spend some time here, and it's a lot less chaotic than Powells.

I get most of my books from the library, but I also use it to get pretty much all my DVD rentals. They keep their collection up to date, mostly getting new DVD's the same time the video store gets them. You may have to wait a few weeks in the queue for the more popular stuff (new series episodes of TV shows for example) - but they're free. I started borrowing DVD's from the library when I once rented a movie at my local video store and they told me, "Hey, you just rented your 100th movie! I did the math. I figure I save myself about $300-400 a year. It adds up!

So...after burning all kinds of calories at Powells and the library, I decided a Sunday treat was in order. That, for me, is sushi.

When I was in Europe, on top of missing cheeseburgers, I really missed sushi. Now that I'm not making the kind of scratch I was hauling in when I was working at Sisters, I don't get to have it very this was definitely a treat. I like to go to Sushiland ( I really like to go to Yoko's...but they are way out of my budget), where I can get treats off the sushi train for a dollar apiece. I get to spend $10 and no more - I could easily eat $20 worth, so it's good I set myself a little limit.

Fully fueled I started heading back home, back up through the Park Blocks...

The North and South Park blocks are eleven blocks of established green land (established back in the 1850's - even then we were a green city!). Each block features a statue or other artwork - I shoulda shown you the cool elephant down at Burnside and 8th...but that'll have to be another time. Here you see Lincoln, and if you kinda look aways behind him...that's Teddy Roosevelt.

Worked my way down through Pioneer Courthouse's one of the most photographed statues in Portland. Commonly known as "The Umbrella Man," the actual name of this piece is "Allow Me." You see people taking their pictures with it all the time...and it generally gets adorned with scarves and hats throughout the year.

And made my way back across the bridge and through the neighborhoods towards home.

When I got home, my housemate Joan was there and we decided to make a bunch of juice with all the fruit that Gwen left us.

Gwennie gifts us with lots of stuff from her job at New Seasons - mostly produce that they can't sell anymore. Joan has a juicer -so we made some killer pear/apple/ginger juice. And a carrot juice - my personal fave. Here's me....enjoying juice. Yum!

Kitten was sitting outside, wondering what all the commotion was about. But mostly, being a perfect cat...didn't really care all that much.

Kona...being a perfect dog, cared a great deal.

And that...was my Sunday in a nutshell. Thanks for coming along!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Strolling on a Sunday afternoon

Sorry it's been a little while since I've written - I haven't been feeling well the last week or so and it's been taxing my energy. I've pretty much just been going to work and coming home and crashing - last weekend I moved into the basement TV room and just stayed there. It was fun.

But now I'm back up and about and after a Saturday filled with chore-y things, I was able to take some time today and take a walk into downtown Portland and check out some of my favorite sights. And I thought of you all, I did, and I took some photos.

I know I've mentioned to you all before about how much I appreciate Portland neighborhoods - you never really know what you're going to come across at any given moment. It pays to be vigilant and not just stroll on by.

You could miss this little guy -- we mostly see horses tied up to these - toy horses of course. A few years ago, a local guy started using these old horse post rings to tie up little toy horses as sort of an, I don't know, fun artistic statement. They're all over Portland now and I love coming across them. Someone here decided to expand the genre and include safari animals to the repertoire. Good on them.

Not that we are shirking our duty to represent horses...

Whaddya wanna bet a bunch of young guys live here?

Here's a City Repair Project bench. Every year a group of volunteers, urban planners, designers and architects get together for a ten day symposium to talk about all methods of alternative building in urban settings. They also go out into the streets and do projects such as these:

This sheltered bench, made out of cob, is artsy, fun and place for neighborhood residents to gather. You will find most of these projects in SE Portland right now, but I know they do other projects all over the city. I love coming across these as much as I do those little toy animals!

Eventually, I made it to one of the seven bridges that will bring traffic, foot and otherwise, into Downtown Portland. This is the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge - the oldest vertical lift bridge in the country. It'll celebrate it's 100th year in 2010. It's also one of our busiest bridges, especially for bicycle commuters. Portland is known for being a bicycle friendly city - but we're proud of the fact that we have more bike commuters than any other city of our size in the U.S. Most of that is due to things like improving and widening sidewalks on bridges to accommodate bikes. The Hawthorne Bridge sees about 5000 cycle commuters daily and another 11,000 or so make it to work using other routes. Pretty nifty factoid - yay us.

Here's that "vertical lift" thing in action. On my way home I just happened to catch it while they were doing a lift drill. The Steel Bridge, three bridges down, opens like this too.

The Morrison Bridge is high enough to accommodate the tall ships that pass through from time to time (particularly for Fleet Week when we get all those Navy Ships in town) - the Burnside Bridge has a pretty long section that will flip up - it's impressive to see - - if you like that sort of thing. Which I do.

Okay, moving on.

I love Powell's. Most book nerds love Powells. Tourists come to Powells. It's the City of Books. 68,000 square feet - four stories, a city block full of books. They have a coffeeshop in here, which is good - you could easily spend the day. I come here a lot to get ideas and then cruise just few blocks south and hit the library where I can usually borrow those books from the good folks there. Smart thinking, eh?

Okay, well I'll have to pick this up tomorrow - it's getting late and my day starts early.......I'll try to finish it up - not leave you hanging at the library - so much more to see........

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Settling In

Wanted to take a few moments to introduce you to my new home. The Big Purple House in Southeast Portland has become my landing pad and I'm so happy to be here. It's lovely isn't it? So Big. So Purple.

Here's the dining and living areas. This house has such sweet and comfortable energy that I really enjoy coming home.

I live here with three other folks (my good friend Joan among them), but I also get to live with two four-legged folks too. Here's Kona.

And look at this black furball - Kitten

So that's all the nice stuff. Now we go upstairs to my room. Prepare yourself.

Told you.

I am so bad at unpacking. It's really just unbearably hard for me. I don't know why, it just is. Well, I do know why. It's because of things like this:

What the hell is that? Exactly. Why do I have it? Why did I pack it to begin with. Why can I not just get rid of it?

It's a candle holder and I can pretty much guarantee you that it hasn't been used in that capacity for YEARS. I'm not kidding. But, I can't get rid of it because I can't just landfill it because it's a scallop shell and I have this...concern, that it's gonna wind up underneath some rotting pile of diapers or buried beneath some rusting piece of metal when it really should be creating sand in the ocean.

I showed it to Joan and she laughed at me!

"Yeah, I see what your problem is now." She said in reference to my difficulty of unpacking. "It's okay to throw that away," she said, backing away slowly before running down the stairs and out of the house. So helpful.

I put it in a box. When I die, someone will find it and just go, "aw...Nik, so...confused."

But, aside from the scallop candle holder I had a multitude of other boxes to contend with...but look! Check it's coming together!

This is my little bookshelf/TV cabinet

And this, of course - the sleeping area. I should've taken these pictures during the daylight hours. This room faces south and gets some really nice light.

And this, of course is my desk. Notice the little black fluffball to the right of my computer. Oh, and that guitar is a loan from Kid Valance. He's got another guitar he's playing with right now and he wanted it to have a home for a little while. It was a very kind gesture - I've been playing with it on and off - it's been around, this guitar.

So, that's the tour for now...I just realized the hour, it's getting late and I need to hit that sleeping area to get ready for work (!!!) tomorrow.

Talk to you all soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Do you realize it's been over 16 months since I've had to sign a time card? It's true, I haven't worked for well over a year - pretty liberating feeling, you should try it some time.

But with that liberating feeling, that freedom, came the sheer terror of getting down to my last couple hundred dollars without any measure of a job in front of me and rent due in two weeks.

Monica down at Sisters landed me one paid gig, helping her run a non-violence training for a church group in Tigard which kept me going and I appreciated (and it was fun). And then, a bit of grace, as most of you know by now came through with this catering/school cook job at Four Seasons Flavor and my bacon was saved.

So I just finished my first week of work, and it was exhausting in that way of having to learn new stuff, new people and a new routine, but it was liberating in its own way to be spending my day earning money instead of spending it.

This gig is good for me. It's steady and the hours suit me. I get up early in the morning and show up by 7am - work my eight hours and head home at 3:00. It's been challenging following recipes again and learning the myriad of procedures that go with this job. We cook for three different schools, two of which are off site so we have to cook everything off, get the numbers right and send everything away in time for lunch two different locations. I haven't gotten it all set in my head yet, so it's a little swirly but I'm sure I'll get it down in time.

This past week I got to make soups, mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, rice krispie treats (!!), pizza and a couple of side items. I also got to learn how to work the POS system (point of sale). We are in charge of running the meals at the high school which means we lay all the food out and then run the cash register as the kids come through and purchase their meals. And they are quick. They only get 30 minutes for lunch and there are a couple hundred of them so I sweat, it's like locusts running through the cafeteria - we lay out all this food and in a matter of minutes, it's gone. It's impressive.

And the kids are sweet - I just see them all as Jake and Shanes - even though the boys are in their twenties now - they will probably always be youngsters to me. So I see all these young high schoolers and feel quite a lot of affection for them. And I remember what it was like to be 15 - 16 years old. What a trial. They have to work so hard just to present themselves in the world, it's rough, I know.

So - nothing else really to add there. It's a good gig and I'm lucky to have it. Did you know unemployment has hit 10% here in Oregon? I'm one fortunate dude.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Beginnings

There aren't many events in this life that we, as a whole, can collectively share. Different from those experiences we can relate with each other as part of the common theme of living (a beloved sports team, Dead concerts, favorite cereal growing up); the things I'm talking about are so affecting that we can sit with a relative stranger and simply ask the question, "Where were you when...?"

Sadly, it seems that so many of these occasions are solemn, or frightening. In my limited days I can go back to the Challenger disaster, Katrina. For some of another generation it would be Pearl Harbor,the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Assasination of JFK and Martin Luther King. And of course, we now have 9-11.

We do have moments of united joy or pure excitement, relief, we do. The end of World War II. The landing of men on the moon. The Berlin Wall coming down.

And now we have this; for one moment in time the world watched as the first African American president was sworn into office. I heard reports of people dancing in Africa, in Indonesia. There were celebrations around the globe. Amazing. There was a report on NPR this afternoon where they played, for about a minute, the lead stories from a dozen different radio stations in all parts of the world. In a dozen different languages, the only two words recognizable were "Barack Obama." What a thing.

Where were you?

I happened to be starting a new job too (the President and I have at least that in common). I watched the festivites from an all-purpose room, really known as the Maverick Room, at Riverdale High School, home of the Mavericks.

I'm working for Four Seasons Flavor Catering Company; where one of their gigs is to provide the lunches for three Portland schools. It's a great job for me, I love cooking and I especially love cooking for kids, so I'm excited about this.

And what a way to start a new gig. Everything was abuzz this morning. The Maverick room is where the kids eat lunch, so it's just off the kitchen. Right around 8:45 the room started filling up with kids and teachers; the projector had been set to fill up the big screen with a live feed from CNN. The kids seemed excited, and not just because they were getting out of class. Some wore Barack Obama T-shirts. Some of the young guys were actually sporting button-down shirts and ties. When the inaugeration started rolling, they were actually rapt; some were taking pictures with their phones, but they were watching. There wasn't even much talking or jostling; and when Diane Feinstein announced the Chief Justice and asked everyone to stand, the kids did so too. Without prompting.

And when Barack Obama was sworn in, and the announcement made they cheered and clapped for a good minute. It was beautiful. And I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

I know of two people that were in D.C. Both friends from the walk. Antonio was there, who I know from Portland; and Kathleen, the nut, left her home in upstate New York yesterday afternoon and was texting me from the Mall this morning.

There will be all kinds of people who will probably say they were there in D.C. for that event. With over two million people reportedly swelling the city, it's more than likely folks will be stretching the truth in that direction for years.

But I don't know why anyone would need to lie about where they were today. We were all there. I thought of my friends in Germany, the cheesemakers, who I know were thinking of me; my friends in Japan, Australia and Spain. They were there too.

This was a day of bounty and grace because a dream was realized today; and hope has materialized from what had been a great dearth of it.

It is impossible to not be excited at the possibilities of such an accomplishment. And not just for one man, representing a race; but for the representation of accomplishment for a people. All people. It's a bit daunting, and I'm not naive about the truth underneath such pedestals. But today, an incredible aspiration has been realized...and I'm just grateful I was there to see it.