20 Aug 2009, 8:47pm
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sunnyside up

well! here i am. home in sunnyside, the first portland neighborhood i ever loved. sitting on the couch with a wet cloth draped over my shoulders, sweatin’ out the heat wave and looking at pictures from my last few days in eureka, in which i am wearing a hat and scarf. i am tired, but it will be okay. i remember packed sixteen-hour days at the institute, and i know that life can be both busy and beautiful. right now it just feels busy.

i busted my bike during the last week of the institute–the rear derailleur snapped right off. mom drove down to eureka to see our show and drive me and my bike home. we stopped in ashland to see equivocation–i liked it. made it home monday afternoon–the 10th of august. on tuesday morning, a. and i picked up a u-haul truck. spent the day carrying boxes and wrestling furniture. spent the week unpacking. i filled four MORE boxes with books to sell to powell’s and i still have too many books for our bookshelves. one of my coworkers fixed my bike for me–i upgraded to a nicer derailleur and got a new chain while i was at it. got some necessary tooth work done (ugh)–my birthday present from my parents. slowly the apartment began to resemble a place suitable for human habitation. i spent an evening assembling flatpack furniture (extra bookshelves–what can i say?). we brought my cat, kepler, over from my old house, where he was staying with my old housemates for the summer. we brought my container garden over from my parents’ house. my strawberry plant is yielding one or two small delicious ripe strawberries per day. a few days ago i planted winter greens seeds in my remaining pots. sunday was the hawthorne street fair and sunday parkways; the route ran by two blocks from our apartment. i rode to the top of mount tabor. my friend kati was in town for a few days. then my old friend becca announced that she and her roommate intend to move up here (!) from berkeley in september. they spent tuesday night in our tiny living room and wednesday looking for jobs. a few other scattered friends have been here or are here and have left again or are leaving soon. i started full-time work on monday. i am helping with development of a new e-commerce site for “urban cyclists,” but i’m not sure yet exactly what i will be doing as far as that goes. i am daydreaming about permaculture design courses and about my Big Bike Adventure.

there you go.

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mom’s front yard vegetable garden is a vegetable JUNGLE.

the day we got home, we crawled in to harvest some tomatoes and the rest of the beets. some of them were ENORMOUS!

we also spotted some squash in there. harvesting them is going to make me feel like the crocodile hunter.

we pickled and canned the beets! it was a beautiful process and made the kitchen smell like mulled wine. can’t wait for my winter salads.

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our apartment is almost 90 years old, and has some idiosyncrasies, which have been alternately frustrating and charming. the oven is probably about as old as the apartment, and looks gorgeously vintage, but the dials have two seemingly-identical “BAKE” options and no labeled “OFF” option. the stove burners are controlled by buttons: 1 2 3 LO WARM OFF for each of them. the apartment is four rooms all in a row: living room leads to kitchen leads to bedroom leads to bathroom. there is a second outside door to the kitchen, but we shoved the fridge in front of it in order to make room for a tiny kitchen table. we have a little patio outside, and my plants are arranged on the front steps. our neighbors across the way have a happy golden retriever and prayer flags hung over their door. our other neighbor rides a fixed-gear, and when i gave him a homebaked cookie the other day, he invited us out to waffles this weekend. i am really excited to get to know the parts of this neighborhood i haven’t already, to meet the sweet neighborhood cats and say hello to my neighbors!

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the end of the institute… ah. each day felt like a week–each week like a year–each day like a minute. i watched the show on opening night, a little to one side of the audience. it hit me–what we had done–when one of the main characters, a little girl named christina, played by a girl named joana, mentioned to jason’s character: “it was five cent cookie day at the bakery!” and the audience audibly acknowledged that: oh yes! vellutini’s! five cent cookies on tuesdays! this is a piece of knowledge and of culture that is theirs. it’s a very simple thing that we were doing… just giving them their place. and those of us who had never conceived of five cent cookie day a month before, we nodded and laughed too. oh yeah! we’ve been there! those cookies are tasty! we’re so glad you told us about that place!

like… there is a fruit tree in the public right-of-way. and everyone is so used to walking past it, they don’t notice it at all. until someone comes by who’s never seen it before, and points it out. and someone has a ladder, and someone else has a bucket, and everyone helps pick the fruit, and prepare the fruit, and eat the fruit, and maybe they didn’t know they were hungry–and everyone goes away full, and life is a little sweeter.

hah! maybe. and then we left.

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