17 ways to live happily…clothing.

Avoid new clothes.
Clothes cost a lot of money. And really, how many times do you wear that item before you are done with it? I don’t really like to spend very much money on clothing, but I also don’t like cheaply constructed clothing. The solution: your local thrift or consignment store. By doing all your shopping at either of those two places you will save a bundle. It may not be the latest, latest fashion, but really, do you keep up with fashion that much? I thought not. You just want clean, presentable, comfortable clothes that don’t scream 1976. My exceptions: underwear, bras and shoes

A poem.

George Bilgere
from The Good Kiss
The University of Akron Press, 2002.

My mother stands in this black
And white arrangement of shadows
In the sunny backyard of her marriage,
Struggling to pin the white ghosts
Of her family on the line.
I watch from my blanket on the grass
As my mother’s blouses lift and billow,
Bursting with the day.
My father’s white work shirts
Wave their empty sleeves at me,
And my own little shirts and pants
Flap and exult like flags
In the immaculate light.

It is mid-century, and the future lies
Just beyond the white borders
Of this snapshot; soon that wind
Will get the better of her
And her marriage.
Soon the future I live in will break
Through those borders and make
A photograph of her-but

For now the shirts and blouses
Are joyous with her in the yard
As she stands with a wooden clothespin
In her mouth, struggling to keep
The bed sheets from blowing away.

This was the featured poem in The Writer’s Almanac, which is a happy part of my day. It could be a happy part of your day too; if you subscribe, they will send it by email every day. Anyway, one of the reasons I enjoy hanging laundry out to dry is that I feel a connection to the millions upon billions of women who have been hanging laundry to dry both in the past and today. I don’t get that so much with the dryer.


From the Writers Almanac 9/19/08

“It was on this day in 1846 that the poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning eloped to Italy. In January of 1845, Robert Browning sent a letter to Elizabeth Barrett. He had just read her book Poems (1844) and he said: “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett. … I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart — and I love you too.” They started writing letters, and they met four months later. Barrett was 40 years old, an invalid; her father didn’t let her leave the house, and she only saw a few people outside her immediate family. Browning was 34, worldly, and athletic. They fell in love. Between Browning’s first letter and their elopement, they exchanged 574 letters. Barrett’s father didn’t believe that any of his children should get married, so after a secret wedding a week earlier, the couple fled to Italy and lived happily there.”

Yet another reason that writing letters is a good way to spend your time–romantic elopement with a worldly and athletic man.

17 ways to live happily…

Live on the dull edge of technology.

Do you need to be a complete Luddite to live happily on your salary? Nope. But if you resist buying each gizmo and gadget when it comes on the market, you will save yourself a lot of money. Better yet, make friends with someone who is always on the cutting edge of technology, and gives you their castoffs. Flat screen TV? HD DVD? Don’t buy one right now. Wait a few years to see if that technology is still going strong. When I was in elementary school scooters became really popular. Both my brother and I really wanted one but our parents told us to wait a year or two because they thought it was a fad. We were sure that scooters were here to say, but it turned out that no one even rode a scooter a year or so later.

Watching a block in N. Portland.

This block in North Portland near the Prescott Street Max stop looks due for some changes. I think there is a mixed use building on tap. When I moved to North Portland one of the houses on this block became a favorite of mine. So I noticed one day when it was boarded up. Eventually I noticed all of the houses on the block were boarded up. I’ll report back now and then when things start to happen. But here is where we are right now.

The house I like is on the left in this picture. The urban agriculture me dreamed of having a large garden in the empty lot taking up most of this picture. The side view of the house showing broken windows already in the upper stories. Those hoodlums have never seen It’s a Wonderful Life.

Doesn’t it look like a grand old lady of a house?
It’s next door neighbor, a nice little Victorian. It looks like my bike crept into that shot.
Another house I am fond of, though I would take off the vinyl siding.
This one has a good porch for sittin‘.

Looking down the block face as we continue our counter-clockwise journey.
There is still some nice decorative shingling on this house’s upper story.
The back side of the apartments on the corner.
Front side of the apartments. They are the most run down of all the houses.
A lovely cottage.
Another nice cottage.
This is the house I can see as I ride North on Interstate. It took me a long time to realize all the houses on the block were boarded up, not just my favorite, because this one has bars on the windows and they did not cover it with the more obvious plywood.
I also didn’t notice because this Liquor Store is not boarded up. But it is indeed closed. Notice the Max transmission tower visible right above the “R” on the sign…
And here it is, taking a chunk out of the Liquor Store. I’ve always wondered how much Tri-Met had to pay to cut into the building like that.
A close up view.
The very 1960s white brick front of the liquor store.
And thus completes our walk around the block. We shall keep an eye and see what develops.
On one hand, I love old houses, and hate to see any of them torn down, even the most decrepit. On the other, if a cute tiny little house hadn’t been torn down a few miles north on Interstate, I wouldn’t be living in my lovely home. Interstate is an area where the city planners are hoping to increase density without bringing in so many cars. It worked for our house. Hopefully this block will have something fabulous.

17 ways to live happily…Library!

Love your library.

It really amazes me that people buy books. There is a lovely institution in nearly every town where they will just let you take home your books (and DVDs and CDs and magazine and sometimes tools) for free. I read a lot, and take a lot of books out of the library, and what I most love is that I don’t have to read any book I check out because I didn’t buy any of them. I can grab something that looks promising and give it back if my interest wanes after 50 pages. When I do buy books, they have a different vibe. I must read the entire thing because my hard-earned money was used to obtain it.

I also find I am often paralyzed in the video rental store. Should I spend $4.00 on this movie or that. The library has rescued me from this dilemma. I just reserve the movies I want to see and when they arrive, the library lets me know. Voila! Instant free entertainment. Check out all the things your library will give you for free.

(Boise Readers will note the shout-out to the Boise Public Library! where I spent many happy hours.)


I think that the expression used throughout 19th century literature should be brought back.


As in: O! The joy! Or: O! The Humanity! Or: O! I do wish Pandora Radio would stop playing so much Bob Seger!

I was pretty happy when the Lewis & Clark commemorative nickles came out.

Ocean in view! O! The joy!

Although the Miss Peller in me wished they would have kept the original spelling of “ociean”

picture from the US Mint.

Horses! In Portland!

These horses are one of the things I love about living in Portland. In 2006, Scott Wayne Indiana decided all those metal rings in the sidewalk leftover from the days before horseless carriages took over the city needed some horses tethered to them. So he and a few others began doing so. Anyone who is so inspired can join this quest to spread ponies throughout the city. The Oregonian covered the phenomenon on June 24, 2006 and the horses numbers have lessened since then but I still come upon them now and then. My favorite quote from the story:

“If you install your own, note that Upham uses wire rope and compression ferrules. It’s a technique that often gets the attention of passers-by, such as the guy who followed her after she installed a pony in front of Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen to tell her she’d left her horse behind.

“I don’t really look like the kind of person who plays with toy horses on the sidewalk,” she said, “but I thanked him and said I’d be back for it later, but if he wanted to give it some water in the meantime, that’d be fine.”
story by John Foyston.