Two Years Of Good

This day brings significance I must acknowledge. Two years ago today I moved into my sweet little space I now call home. I believed it to be the worst day of my life. I was grateful for a place to call my own, thinking I was headed toward homelessness, but I longed for my old life. This change was abrupt. It was forced. It was not my choice. The day I walked out the door of my old house my relationship was officially over. It ended a month previously, really. I moved myself into the basement guest room while I frantically tried to find other living arrangements. When I wasn’t doing that I was trying to wrap my mind around what the hell happened.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ve read the story of my abrupt life change. In this past blog Dip. Dip. Depression. I share the story of what happened that led me to walk through the door of my new place two years ago. Re-reading it myself I can say the most significant realization is the same. I can also say that two years later I still have no idea what happened to “M” for her to behave so horribly. I also still have no idea why she ended our relationship or why she chose to completely cut me out. I feel pretty confident now I know what happened in “M” that caused her mental break, but she will never tell me so I’ve come to my own conclusions and closure. I had to and I am still no less appalled by what she did, by the way. I accept that it is what it is. I can conjure up compassion for her occasionally, though it’s brief and far between. I know she struggles and suffers emotionally and that’s really an awful way to be. It’s unfortunate.

I don’t often give “M” my mental energy these days. I like much more to focus on my awesomely positive experiences and the goals I am working toward. Life fell magically back into place looking completely different than the old life I was longing. Soon enough I was done looking back, feeling happy and making plans for my future. I have a job I call my dream job even though much like my life it is very different than I imagined.

Life is good. Most days I’m pretty content. I honestly can only see misery when I think of the what if. That being if we had stayed together. Interesting how two short years can change my view of “the good life”. I like where I’m at now. I like where I’m going. While there have been plenty of struggles, I persevere. I really try to be positive. Soon enough things will change again, this time by my own determination. I will always be deeply grateful for this place that became my home. It’s where I came back to myself. Happy two years of good to me!

Gorgeous view from my kitchen window on a recent snowy day

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2017. New Year. Radical Change.

Where has the time gone? Do you ask yourself that question as often as I do? It has been seven months since my last blog post! That’s a long time! The break was needed, though I did not intend this length. I continue to be active in other areas on WordPress. I notice I still get activity and new followers to my blog. I do appreciate all of you with your continued support and interest.

It’s hard remembering back to summer as our city sits snow covered after a series of winter storms that paralyzed Portland. I did have an amazing summer though, and I was out exploring my lovely Oregon state as often as I could. My truck got it’s camper conversion and with each trip out I played a little more with the organization and set up. I really like it a lot.

Thanks to my son for gifting me a trip to North Carolina over my birthday so I could see him and spend time in Raleigh, a city I am interested in knowing. Two visits with my boy in one year puts a smile on my face! My plans for radical change continue to move steadily along. There is something both unsettling and comforting for me as I fiercely focus my energies on this change. This being my move across the country from Portland Oregon to Raleigh North Carolina. I am on the path. I’m making it happen. It’s scary exciting!

These past several months have brought change to my family. Our little triad increased three fold when my daughter married a man with two young girls. The joy of little girls to dote on makes this “grandma” very happy. I look forward to being on the east side of the country where I will be closer to my little family.

I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen these past months. I do what I need to sustain myself, however I’ve been lacking the inspiration to be creative with my food. While I am deeply grateful for the space I have including my tiny kitchen, I long for a “real” kitchen with counter space in a room of it’s own. My little studio is overall pretty awesome even with its “rv”style kitchen. I do not know where I would be without this place. It has been a blessing and my saving grace. What originally began as a two month temporary stay is now creeping up on two years of comfortable living.

One thing I do not find so awesome about my area is being housebound for days when Portland gets snow and ice storms, which has been the case recently. It used to be rare for this city, but both winters have dumped the white stuff in my hills. I have learned when it snows and freezes I will be stuck on my hill long after the rest of the city is back to its hustle. My elevation is high nestled among the trees of Forest Park, so weather is more extreme than the valley below me. I am less than two miles from work yet on snow filled days it feels like I’m in a mountainous winter wonderland. I may whine about the size of my kitchen space hindering my desire to be creative, but it came through for me and saved my sanity while I was stuck inside. Thankfully I’ve been well stocked with groceries each time I’ve been stuck!  I now own all the tools I will need to traverse my snowy and icy hills if my truck can’t get out. Ice cleats, hiking poles and an ice crunching shovel will be my winter companions. I find it a funny thought that I now own these things to move around my Portland city!  This is just one of the many things that has made living in the West Hills a unique experience!

I wanted to provide you all with some pictures of my food creations over the past several months but my laptop died before I could save all my pictures to my “cloud”.  For now I’ve replaced it with my tablet which puts me on a new learning curve, especially with blogging!

This post serves as my reintroduction sans the food pictures. I do have a few photos of the incredible beauty I have witnessed recently up here in the hills. I certainly cannot complain about that!

Stunning beauty

Portland like we rarely see it. Enjoy! More to come soon. I promise. Sabbatical over. Thanks again for sticking around.

Happy New year!

This Oregon Life

I have been eagerly awaiting decent Oregon weather so I can get out in the woods to enjoy some camping.  With my ready made camping vehicle, I can be on the go without much preparation other than food.  It is so awesome to get in and go!  I’ve been really excited to get out in nature and enjoy my beautiful Oregon.  Let me tell you, I desperately need out of Portland these days!  I enjoyed an extra long trip last weekend and this weekend I did an over-niter just because I can! Nature, beauty and primitive camping is not far from Portland.  Less than a two hour drive brings me to the peace I want.

 

My lovely state did not disappoint!  The weather was perfect both weekends.  Last weekend I stayed at a new campground for me and this weekend I went to an old time favorite spot where I have been camping for years.  Both spots brought me the calm solitude and connection with nature I love.

My sweet princess is not a fan of camping.  Her first weekend she spent terrified and preferred the comfort of my lap or on the bed safe inside my rig.  Even with friends she loved, being out and near the camp fire was much too scary for my little one.  Freshly returned from my second camping trip of the season my little girl is exhausted.  This time she was attacked by a dog much larger than her as we were taking a walk.  Irresponsible pet owners did not have their dog leashed at their campsite.  When we walked by, he ran out to us and attacked my baby. Thankfully, she has only minor physical injuries but she is now a skittish, terrified little thing.  I certainly hope she gets back to her usual spunky happy self soon.  My poor, sweet baby.  That was a terrifying experience for us both.

 

We’re taking a couple weeks break from camping to enjoy other weekend activities, but we’ll be back at it again with more adventures and good food in store!!  I’ve got some camping with dog experience behind me now so I think I’m more prepared for future trips. Every chance I get this coming season, I will be out in the great green of Oregon.  If my plans lay out as I hope, this will be my last summer in Oregon so I am taking advantage of what my great state offers so close to home. (I’ll share more about this later!)

As my usual style, food is the center of attention for my camping adventures.  Remember that raspberry sauce I wrote about not long ago?  Here’s the same version with blueberries added.  It made for a delicious pancake sauce this morning.  There’s nothing like freshly made food in the great outdoors.  It just tastes better!  I added a dollop of plain coconut Greek style yogurt, which is actually quite sweet and not tart like typical dairy yogurts. The combination was fantastic!  Add a steeping cup of fresh brewed java, a little fire to watch dance and this morning was divine!20160626_093914

 

 

 

Love Is Here, Orlando

 

Like many across the country, my day began yesterday with news of the tragedy in Orlando.  A gay bar, The Pulse Nightclub, was the scene of a deadly massacre leaving many dead and injured.  In the aftermath, cities across the nation have come together in love and support for the victims and their families.  It’s a way to gather as family and stand in solidarity against hate.

I attended one of Portland’s vigils last night.  I needed to be with my people and my community.  I wanted to grieve surrounded by love.  Most of FoodRadical’s writings and stories rarely identify that I am a woman who loves women.  If you don’t know me, this would not be apparent in my writing, with rare exceptions when I’ve used a pronoun in stories referencing “M”.  Yesterdays assault left me with such heaviness in my heart.  Learning this slaughter has ISIS leanings doubles my sadness for I know Islamophobia exists as does homophobia.  It’s all hate in my opinion and this world has too much right now.

Nightclubs and gay bars were my safe space as I was coming out and coming to terms with who I was while I found my place in my new life.  It was the space I could openly express me, be with other people like me and feel a sense of complete acceptance even though I may not have known the majority of people I was surrounded by.  There was implicit love and safety. Remembering this for myself and coming to terms with what happened in Orlando aren’t syncing well in my psyche.  Knowing that we as a community of people are still vulnerable to attacks of hatred; that this massacre took place in the one space where we are supposed to feel safe and protected is particularly heart-wrenching.

I needed to be with my people last night.  I wanted to grieve beyond my couch watching live reports and reading endless on line accounts.  I needed to be surrounded by love.  This month, June…it is our month.  June is PRIDE.  Last night my community came together and showed that Pride.  We stood in solidarity and love.  We sent prayers and love to Orlando.  My people. My Portland.  It gave me what I needed and wanted last night.  It filled me with hope.  Love always wins.

 

Dreams Of Small

Off topic from the usual FoodRadical chatter, I want to share something that has been my focus recently.  I am learning affordable, efficient ways to utilize my small space.  I’m also testing the waters for a new direction in my writing.  FoodRadical may evolve into something different and I might decide to create a new blog with a new focus.  For now I enjoy the ease of sharing here where I am settled and established.  So, thanks for following me as I venture into uncharted territory.

I still have large house overflow in two friend’s basements and I’ve been working on downsizing my belongings with a minimalist attitude.  I realize it’s essential for small home living.  Tiny house living has had incredible appeal to me for years.  I have wasted spent hours reading articles and eyeing enticing pictures of charmed, simple living.  I dream of having my own little house on a piece of land somewhere.  Never has the dream been so close in reach than where I am now on my path.  However, the reality of that process requires a firm commitment that I am still not ready to make.  I have other places to experience and live before I decide on where that piece of land will be, therefore the tiny house will wait.

Truly, I have been practicing small house living in my little studio this past year.  Much like a mother-in-law house, my independent space is attached to a larger home that sits in a residential neighborhood of single family homes.  My private entrance is on the opposite side of the main home creating a sense of separateness.  The interior barely reaches the 400 square foot mark in size.  My home is a stilt house that sits on a hillside so I also have a large covered deck that acts as a living room extension, accessible by the gorgeous french doors that bring in plentiful light.  It’s a lovely feature; the best in my opinion.  The views I enjoy are phenomenal.  I digressed a bit!  I couldn’t help myself!

I have made considerable adjustments, coming from my previous home of over 1,700 square feet in addition to a tremendous stretch of outdoor space.  I can say I now have a solid understanding of the term “stir crazy” having lived the experience as I learned to adapt.  Yet, I now revel in the comfort of my cozy little haven.  I realize I am finding peace of mind and calmness of spirit as I let go of unnecessary stuff that has metaphorically weighed me down for years.

In a space this small with limited storage, it is essential to have a place for everything.  In my last post about the awesome Dollar Tree finds I mentioned that I would show you how I utilize their products.  As I went through my place taking pictures, I discovered I use a lot of Dollar Tree products!  There are many items useful to small space living.  My recommendation is to use your own discretion with regard to quality.  I inspect each potential purchase to determine if it will hold up well with the use I intend it for.  I try, try hard (I’ve caved a time or two!) not to buy something without a set intention for that item.  With few exceptions at this moment, I am using every Dollar Tree item I have purchased.

Additionally, I have wisely purchased furniture pieces that will give me extra storage.  I have found this to be absolutely necessary.  Never before have I so thoughtfully planned out my space or used furniture in ways I now do.  Visualizing an item for it’s re-purpose value has become rote.

I’ve attached pictures of my best and most useful purchases to date.  Enjoy what you see and I wish inspiring thoughts for you on your own organizing journey!  If you’ve made it this far, I thank you again for reading and sticking with me.  I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this stray from convention.

 

 

Candy Cane Beets

Did you catch my recent faux pas?  Somehow I accidentally posted a paragraph of my draft writing the other day.  I am not a fan of the new post layout WordPress uses.  It’s not very user friendly for me!

You may have noticed I made some visual changes to my blog.  I have been playing around with it for some time.  I think I like how it looks for now and it is giving me what I want in layout design.  Some of my writing will be moving away from food and recipes.  I have found that writing thoughts and sharing life musings is healing for me.  I’m giving deeper consideration to a book writing endeavor.  I have been encouraged often so I’ve gotten a bit more active by studying more formalized writing.  It’s fun to try out my creativity in other ways.  Writing was always a favorite creative outlet for me as a child, teen and young adult.  I am finding the joy in writing again as I rest solidly in my “middle-age” years.

I have been giving serious thought to lots of new ideas recently.  I am a dreamer for sure!  I am a doer, too!  I’ve been rather bored with my current vegetable choices these days and long for the peak season of produce abundance.  I just planted my first set of indoor vegetable seeds!  Yay for veggies of the future!   I’m giving container gardening another try this year.  In the meantime, I have been on a quest to find a little more excitement in my veggies that will make my palate happy for them.

Check out what I found!  Have you ever seen one of these??  It’s called a candy-cane beet!  Isn’t it pretty?  Now, if that doesn’t make me want to eat my vegetables, I don’t know what will! IMG_3639

It tasted quite mild and is delicious raw.  I sauteed part of it which brought out a bit more flavor, but still very mild so that it picked up spice flavors quite nicely.  It does not have the robust, earthy beet taste like red beets.  I like this beet sliced raw in a salad best.  If you find one, pick it up and give it a try!  Break out of your veggie doldrums, too!

 

 

When Professional & Personal Worlds Merge

I attended the most fascinating workshop this week.  This FREE event, a workshop entitled “Too Much Stuff” was sponsored by our county task force on hoarding.  Throughout the day we were encouraged to tweet  #pdxstuff  to call awareness to hoarding disorder.

I wanted to attend this all day seminar after recently having direct experience in my work with a hoarding resident who was at risk of eviction.  My goal for attending was to leave with a better understanding of brain functioning in people living with hoarding behaviors.

I certainly walked away with what I intended and so much more.  I had some surprising personal insights that shed light on behaviors I witnessed with my ex, “M”.  I was reminded of our last conversation before she told me to leave.  It really wasn’t a conversation; more like “M’s” inner monologue leaking outward because I made a feeling statement about something that was bothering me.  In the usual off topic ranting, what I heard from the babble was “M” didn’t like seeing my things around the house.  I remember being hurt and confused.  Simply put,  I lived in the house.  That’s why my things were there.  Additionally,  as in countless times of the past I attempted a real conversation about something that was bothering me and in the usual way,  I was left bewildered by the behaviors of “M” with no real resolve to the original concern.  I understand now why I let so much fall to the wayside,  but what I didn’t understand until I sat in that workshop was how much the fear of hoarding played a role in “M”‘s behavior throughout our relationship and was ultimately the catalyst for the demand that I move out.

By “M”‘s own admission, her family of origin has hoarding behaviors.  So much so that it led to decisions “M” would make in her own life.  It was the subject of many conversations.  I heard story upon story of hoarding tendencies that thread through the family lines.  Me,  person of stuff–not even close to the true definition of hoarding,  had sufficient belongings that “M” was well aware of when I moved in.  We had a room we called “the office”.   Essentially, it was an unused space with furnishings and a bunch of, well…clutter; “M”‘s things.  That clutter was different from mine though because it was hers (the illusion of having control)!  Really,  it was “M”‘s ironing room and a place to dump paperwork.   I moved in with craft supplies, taking over said “office”.  Multiple times I listened to “M”‘s complaints of the “cluttered” office.   Multiple times I asked to help me create space for my things so it didn’t look that way.   That never happened.

From the general obsessive behavior and the need for perfection to the constant concerns that the house had too much stuff (it didn’t),  I learned in this workshop that “M” displayed nearly every characteristic of a person with hoarding tendencies.  However, what I determined was that the deep seeded fear of hoarding is what kept “M” from the actual act of it, almost!  Lest I mentioned the shed full of rocks in boxes that weren’t mine!  It was truly a mind blowing day for me.  I found myself saying “wow” under my breath on numerous occasions as I had “ah-ha” moments.  Do you ever have those?  Suddenly something makes sense, it “clicks” and things all come together in your mind like a wave of instant awareness.  I have had so many of those surrounding my past relationship.

Although the demand for me to move out was on the heals of an issue “M” saw as borderline hoarding on my part, that demand truly had nothing to do with my belongings and had everything to do with the boundaries I set for myself in how I allowed her family members, specifically her adult daughter to treat me.  That is where the truth lies.

I moved, getting rid of nearly all those belongings “M” complained about.  I let them go with relative ease by the way, because I do not have a hoarding issue.  I now have a lot more knowledge of this widespread issue and I had some amazing insights that helped remind me I was not the problem in that relationship, as “M” would have wanted me and likely everyone else to believe. That workshop was another reminder that “M” really did (likely still does) have some serious mental health concerns that were not being addressed.

Since I blog mostly about food, let me not forget: we were on our own for lunch and because it is safest for me to eat my own food, I brought an amazing salad that was simple yet hearty and filling.  salad

The workshop was walking distance from the house I shared with “M”, who no longer lives there either.  I was compelled to go by because I was in the neighborhood and hadn’t been by that place since I left.  I was curious.  It looks the same.  I had no twinge of missing it or the neighborhood as I wandered by.  In fact, I found myself being grateful for right where I am and so glad that part of my life is in the past.  All this from one workshop!  My love of learning, professionally and personally will never end.