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!

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.

 

Simple Pleasures

The alluring sunshine gleaming upon the city enticed me from the views on my deck,  down the hill and to Portland’s waterfront.  The north end is lined with cherry trees coming into their peak as fluffy cherry blossoms create tunnels of pink.  I wanted to be encased in their beauty.

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Go down now, I thought; go while the sun is out.  Feeling the call to find things I love about Portland,  I thought walking the cherry blossom lined waterfront would fill me with the joy of simple pleasures found in this city. Perhaps a walk among the trees and the sunshine warming my skin would lift my spirits on an overall dreary weekend thus far.

It has been a good long time since I have felt my love for this city. Returning from a wonderful trip to North and South Carolina did not bring a new appreciation for Portland.  I find it even more detestable.  I wanted some simple reminders like cherry blossoms,  the portrait of beauty for so many Portland neighborhoods.

I had an easy drive down the hills toward the waterfront.  Positive attitude, camera and creativity were primed to be impressed only to be confronted by the endless battles for street parking.   Where every minute matters on days with Portland’s precarious weather,  I tested out my North Carolina learned aggressive driving skills to score a spot close to my destination.   In the less than two block walk,  I was greeted with drizzle as I entered the north end waterfront.  Momentarily in awe at the impressive show of pink,  I reached for my camera to snap a few pictures then began my tree lined walk.   Keeping with my feigned optimism,  I told myself a little drizzle is okay;  classic spring time in Portland.   Keep focused on the beauty and wish for that sunshine to show its glow any moment.  I quickly snapped some more pictures being careful to protect my camera from the drizzle turned pouring rain.  I was able to catch just a couple more perfect shots when the wind did a fast dance among the trees creating cascades of pink pedals whisking across the park,  whipping the heavy rain sideways,  blowing off my hat and pelting my face as I hurried back to my truck.

Completely soaked,  upset wet dog in my arms,  I grumbled as I got back into the truck, trying to conjure up what little bit of positive thoughts still remained.  I encountered an inordinate amount of traffic and my short trip back up the hills took me triple the amount of time.  I was met with several irrational drivers whose unsafe driving frayed my weary nerves.

Arriving home,  as I walked my deck to the front door I found exactly what I wanted-a gorgeous sunshine upon the city,  creating a glimmer that made me pause in admiration and enjoy the beauty of Portland.  I guess I find appreciation in my city from a distance more accepting these days than being right in the mix of it all.  I took that message and gave it thought as I created a comforting chicken stock,  made from the bones of a whole roasted chicken.

Sometimes the simple pleasures are right in our line of vision yet we are too busy looking past them as we seek something better.  I discovered that investing time in my kitchen with an occasional glance out the window to appreciate my views was the simple pleasure I needed to bring me back to a place of gratitude.  Not necessarily for my city,  but for my current journey that for now,  still exists in Portland.

Radical Raspberry Compote

This past week seemed to be calmer than the last, or maybe it was because this week felt more balanced between work and play so that made work seem more tolerable.  I have encountered a lot of firsts in my job recently.  I got to experience the not so pleasant side of my job when I had to break the news to a resident that he was being evicted. On the heals of that, I attended a local rally about the rental crisis that is happening in my city. (#RENTERSOS) Portland is a mess right now. People who are income challenged are being displaced at an alarming rate.  Immediate change needs to happen and it was impressive that our city commissioner proposed new protections for renters the day after the rally.  It’s a short-term solution to a deeper problem, but it is a step in the right direction.

I went to the rally to network with other housing advocates and to get a better pulse on the severity of this crisis.  I was there as a professional, yet this is a deeply personal issue for me.  I am incredibly fortunate that I am not one of the many uprooted Portlanders struggling to find adequate housing.  I very easily could have been.  I honestly do not think one day has gone by that I haven’t sent out a ‘thank you’ for the beautiful place I call home when I enjoy my amazing views from my deck.

I reconnected with my old next door neighbor, who I lived next to when I was with “M”.  We had lunch and caught up on life.  It was nice to share my story with someone else who knows “M” and it felt good to get validation for the inhumanity I experienced by “M”.  She also works with the same populations as I do and, I discovered her office is in the building directly across from my main building where I have my office! We will be working on creating a professional partnership between our organizations. This is super cool!  Her and her partner moved as well and I got an invite to their new house when they are more settled.  I am thrilled to be back in contact with the people I thought were pretty cool neighbors.  She also lives a gluten free lifestyle so it’s exciting to know I’ll have a gluten free lunch buddy when I want to break up my work day.

I hung out with co-workers one night after work.  It was nice to go out and get to know them a little more personally.  We are all so busy during the day and many of us are “out in the field”.  I was happy to have the opportunity to sit around them all and casually mingle.  I spent time with a couple people I haven’t seen in a while, I attended community events and overall had a really busy week, yet it ended with me feeling much less stress than the previous week.  I do believe the nice balance between hard stuff and fun stuff made my week pretty decent.

I’ll be out and about the city doing my usual weekend errands then later having fun with some extra special people.  I am most excited that I will finally be getting some more of my belongings from one of the places it’s been stored.  I am desperately missing a few things and I really hope they are boxed away.  I got rid of so much in my panic of needing to move because I had no idea where I would go.  Thinking I might be in my car, I gave up nearly three quarters of my things.  Now, months later, I have been learning I gave up some precious items I really wish I would not have.  I suppose I will find out if what I want and need got saved a little later on today.  Either way, it is what it is and I have another opportunity to let the past go a little more.

Another one of the firsts I am experiencing in my job is working with veteran’s. Thus far, I can only describe it as an intense experience. This raspberry compote developed after of one of these said veteran’s threatened to steal my food from the community room freezer.  I often keep excess freezer food at work because my home freezer is very tiny.  I am still trying to learn this man’s personality and I could not decide if he was making a threat or a joke, so I just removed the temptation and brought my food home.  I simply had no room for my gallon sized bag of raspberries that I had picked earlier in the summer so I made a compote, poured it into jelly jars and froze those!  They fit snuggly in my little freezer space and will make lovely gifts when the holidays arrive.

I am letting another week go to enjoy my weekend filled with all things good and nurturing!  Here is how I’m starting my morning and my weekend:  IMG_3472Using gluten free oats, I made oatmeal on the stovetop.  While the oats were cooking I added 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a tiny drizzle of pure vanilla and a dash of sea salt.  I topped it with chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax meal, chopped candied ginger and the raspberry compote.

Raspberry Compote

4 cups of frozen raspberries

2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

1/4 cup of raw cane sugar

dash of sea salt

Put all ingredients into a 2 quart pot and simmer on the stovetop until bubbly.  Allow to simmer on a low heat until the raspberries break down and develop a syrup like texture.  Remove from heat.  Let cool completely then store in air tight glass jars.  Can be frozen for later use or use right away over oatmeal or maybe even over a delicious dairy free “ice cream”!!  Enjoy!

Good Morning, Portland! A glorious view. Thank you.

Good Morning, Portland!
A glorious view.
Thank you.

Coconut Curry Chicken

I had a lovely time at the coast this weekend.  It was nice to get out of Portland where the weather was near record heat temperatures.  The coast was a lovely mild temperature with bright sunshiny blue skies, but a bit too breezy for me.  As is typical for the Oregon coast, I certainly did not complain.  I spent time with my family there, watched my nephew graduate, shared food, conversation and laughter.  I walked on the beach, I stopped and stretched toward the roaring ocean.  Hot tubs, soaks, luxurious baths and good food all weekend.  I truly enjoyed my rejuvenating get-a-way.  Even though it was scorching hot upon my return to Portland this afternoon, I entered my home and was met with a cool, comfortable feeling temperature.  That made me very happy and is a good indication of what to expect as the heat continues into summertime.

I did my unpacking and began organizing my plan for food this coming week.  Needing to use some chicken, I decided on a dish I know I will enjoy for most of this week.  It’s easy, it can be portable, it is nutritious and filling.  When I can use up the items in my little fridg before my next trip to the store, that makes me happy!  I whipped up what I call coconut curry chicken.  I love that I can use just one pan, my cast iron skillet.  I also made some brown rice as a delicious accompaniment to this dish.

Looking ahead to my busy week I am excited for many things on my work agenda.  How cool is that?!!  I am really excited for my work week.  I am continuing to love my job.  It is so perfect for me.  I know I’ll love my week even more with my delicious meals on the go I will get to enjoy.  Have a great week!  Eat well.

Coconut Curry Chicken

Heat a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil (or whatever you have on hand that isn’t olive oil) in a 10-12 inch skillet.  Add 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped and saute until translucent.  Next, add one pound of chicken breast cut into bite size pieces.  Saute until just browned.  Add 2 Tablespoons of powdered yellow curry and stir around to coat the chicken pieces. Add one 14 ounce can of light coconut milk and a half cup of chicken broth. Stir until combined and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until sauce begins to reduce and chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degree. Top with freshly chopped green onions and cilantro.  You could even add a crack or two of some fresh peppercorns! Enjoy over greens, rice, or both!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Way

On the way, every day I see beauty with every step.  Never dull, always ordinary.  I notice.  I see artistry.  I see elegance.

There is nature all around me.  Peaceful quiet.  Happy morning chirping from high in the trees.  Sights of wild life and intoxicating scents.  I forget I live in the city sometimes.

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On the way I find moments of awe;  spirit awakening, deep gratitude, heart overflowing reverence for my walk in this world as I continue toward my destination.

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On the way seems very ordinary yet so incredibly enlightening.  Every day, on the way I feel a profound appreciation for this; my neighborhood and my journey to here.

In The Beginning I Was Me

I have been asked by a few people recently when I planned to post my next blog.  It has been difficult for me to get my thoughts in writing; wanting to keep the integrity of my blog and my story by telling it with love and a whole heart.  I have needed some time to reflect on how my recent experience will shape my future posts.  In my previous post titled Dip. Dip. Depression, I shared what has been happening in my life.

I feel like I have come full circle with my recent trauma and a new path on my journey is being paved.  My focus is more clear and I am relaxing back in to life a little more each day.  When this “saga” began, my plan was to head toward the east side of the country to be closer to my kids.  It wasn’t long before opportunities were placed in my path that signaled to me Portland is still the place I need to be right now.  What began as temporary housing has become the place I can call home for a while.  This solidified my decision to stay put.  My living arrangement is pretty fantastic and I cannot pass up this amazing opportunity.  Additionally, I have met some incredible people recently who have been pivotal in my new direction.  I am eager to pursue fresh ideas with some inspiring people.

As I recreate my life and move toward a place of healing, I am acutely aware of the fact that I must find my own closure in this ordeal.  It is becoming painfully clear that M’s refusal to talk with me will continue and we will not come to a healthy resolve together.  I have to be comfortable in not knowing.  I am not there yet.  I work on it every day, however.  I am also reminded on a daily basis in some way to be grateful for the place I am now.  Had we followed through with our plans together, that would have involved buying property.  I am so deeply glad that did not happen.  If “M’ is capable of this level of cruelty, I do not even want to imagine how much worse it could have been being entangled any deeper, financially.

What I think about most often is, what happened to the person I knew to be a kind, loving and caring human being? What happened to suddenly create a shift?  Why would “M” choose to be so hateful?  Are the people close to “M” concerned about this sudden change? Everyone in my life is certainly shocked. What happened to my sweetie, my quirky, fun-loving adventure partner? What happened?  What happened??  It’s an endless and unanswerable question in my mind.  Every time I go down that road, I come back completely baffled. Honestly, it’s mind boggling.  I don’t understand why “M” was so fearful of simply expressing feelings.  Why didn’t “M” just say, “let’s talk.”  Two words.  It could have changed everything.  It certainly could have created a much nicer outcome with a lot less hurt even if the end of this story were the same.

I had my feet so solidly planted in what I thought was a committed, long term relationship with the person I loved.  I truly believed, that even though we had our issues that needed addressing, our emotional ups and downs; especially with me going through grief, that we would work together like couples do because we wanted a life–together.  Nothing, absolutely nothing was so terrible in our relationship that it deserved this end.  I did not deserve this treatment.

I am beginning to accept the new direction my life is taking.  I am discovering a new and more thoughtful way to live.  I have tried to make my new and very small kitchen in my new space work for me the best I can with the resources I have right now.  I am doing all right.  I have managed to get some decent meals prepared and eaten, albeit a lot more planning must take place to get to a delicious end result.  Portable kitchen islands are on my radar.  It will help my kitchen be more functional for me.  Food storage and kitchen storage in general, is another issue.  I have had many frustrating moments, fits of anger and sobbing outbursts.  And, despite all the forced upon me hardships, I am doing all right.

I process as I cook; I breath through the pain and let go a little more each day.  I am surrounded by a loving group of friends who support me and encourage me toward my new beginnings.  I am grateful for the abundant opportunities and lovely people that have so perfectly timed themselves into my world.  I try to keep my focus on my wonderful new path that develops a little more each day, keeping me curious, excited and motivated.  I will be all right.  I certainly enjoy feeling more like me again; authentic me.  There is that saying, “hindsight is 20/20”; I see things now that I could not before.  What I see is that I am much better off.  Right here.  Right now. I feel happy again despite the pain of betrayal.  I am happy to be me.

I have no delicious food pictures at this time, nor do I have recipes to share.  I think I really needed to keep this post about expression of feelings.  I can sense my blog will take a new direction that will mirror my new life direction.  So this feels like the perfect blog ending and beginning.  I do hope you will continue along with me on my next journey.

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