Author Archives: Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

About Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

Stacy Alexander - mixed media artist and founder of Arte Alterado and Stacy Alexander's Silverthorn Studios.

Holiday Season

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Feeling especially joyful and grateful this holiday season.   Have been working very hard to make up for the near-month we spent in Reno, but am still trying to carve out the time to enjoy the season.   I’ve been shopping and baking, wrapping and cleaning.  I’ve been singing and volunteering and basically enjoying this time of year.   I’ve been going to see musical and theatrical events, Christmas lights, Christmas tree lighting,  Jewish Hanukkah ceremnies, a Kwanza musical…..I’m really getting into the spirit of the season. 

I’m still taking my long walks every day, and as the weather gets colder, I step a little faster.  It’s fun to see all the decorations

Planning to spend Christmas at home with the family this year.  It should be great.   However, I’ve really been bad about keeping up with my blog….but I’ll get better at that, too.  I have a lot of exciting information to impart in 2019!  


Happy Thanksgiving

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Did you ever have one of those Thanksgivings where everything was just perfect?  That’s how ours turned out yesterday.  It was a study in synchronicity, in which all the pieces fell precisely into place.  Everyone had a great time.  The food was fantastic.  The company was incredible.  Yes…..this Thanksgiving will go down in history as one of the best we’ve ever had!

 

We have our son-on-law’s mother, Jaye, to thank for our perfect day.  What a sweet soul she is!

Portland still has an abundance of blooming flowers, and our tables were decorated with many gorgeous bouquets.

Friends and family members traveled from all over the place to join us.

Nathan put together an incredible snack tray filled to the brim with homemade bread, cheese and all sorts of picked things, from onions to beets….and some quince jelly for good measure. 

 

At the end of the day, it was the people that made the holiday so special.  I had text messages from people who couldn’t join us, and phone calls, too.  Started the day off with a long talk with my mother.  Other calls arrived throughout the day, making it feel like those who couldn’t be with us were there in some way.

I hope each of you had a great holiday, and that you’ll continue to enjoy the weekend!

 

 

Personal Projects

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Just spent nearly a month in Reno.  Had quality time with all of our friends there.  Spent time at the lake.  Went out dancing.  Went to a party. Went out to eat a lot.  Met friends for drinks.  Hiked.  Laughed.  It was a great vacation.  

However, we’re home now, and are both faced with our own projects to get back to.

For far too long now, I have put the agendas of others before my own, which has resulted in my propping up some people and neglecting my own dreams.   With my birthday rapidly approaching, I have decided to turn the page on this chapter of my life and to embrace my own personal projejcts.  There are many of them.

Spent the weekend working on my cookbook project.  I am co-writing it with an avid meat chef, and am publishing my own vegetarian recipes to go with her meat recipes for the transitioning vegetarian family.  Now that I have it all formatted and outlined, the content seems to be flowing freely, and it is moving at a fast past….at least the skeletal portion of the book is.  I still have to actually cook and photograph the food, which is no small task.

I am also restocking my kitchen and bringing it up to date, equipment-wise, replacing my pots, pans, knives and electric equipment.  This, too, is going to be a slow process, as I have very expensive tastes.  Good thing I’m a bargain shopper!

Elated about the sale of one of my pieces that was in Guaardino Gallery for the Day of the Dead exhibit, I am also busily planning more art projects.  I took Michael DeMeng’s class about how to make a 3-D tarot card “monster” and plan to do other characters along those lines as well.  I am going to do some paintings and I’m also going to get back to my mosaic guitar project.  My plan is to create enough pieces for an exhibit.  However, every time I make one, I end up selling it to some admiring friend who can’t believe how beauitful it is….so I have no stock….for now.

The Portland autumn has been dramatic and beautiful.  I’ve been spending as much time as I can outdoors, taking long walks during the day, and working in the yard when I have time.  I’m feeling pretty good about life.  Things are going well……making the wait much less painful.

Three Weeks in Reno

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Today marks the final day of three wonderful weeks in Reno.  We’re already set to return in March, for three more weeks of fellowship and adventure.  During this trip,  I cooked and cooked and cooked…because I am going down the final stretch in completing my cookbook.  I tested many recipes and am happy to say that the majority of them were successes….but some were flops, naturally.  In any case, I feel good about it all.

 

While in Reno, we spent an afternoon at the Italian Festival downtown.  Was the perfect venue for people watching!   Elio Satcchi entertained us beautifully.

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We went to the lake twice, to Virginia City, to the hot springs in Carson City via the instructions of a close friend who told me all about “hammer time” a local phenomenon. The sunsets were magnificent.  We don’t have big skies like this in Portland because of the low cloud coverage.

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The Lake Tahoe water was the most beautiful color!

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We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to come back….however….

I’ve missed Portland and my family and friends there.  I’ve missed making art and making music.  I’ve missed our wonderful neighborhood and I’ve missed my fabulous, gentle art friends who would rather die than say anything negative about another person.  I love Portland.  Reno provides a much harsher culture and way of life.  Except for the occaional political flare up that is always confined to a small area and lied about regularly on FOX (Faux) News, it is the most peaceful and beautiful place I have ever lived.

Two of my sister wives are planning an April visit, and I can’t wait to see them again….which I will…in March.

Feeling good today, happy.  I have a great husband and two sweet little pups at my side.  Life is happy and good.

 

This is my dear sisterwife, Kat Wilson doing what she does best.  She is a true Reno star.IMG_7986

Here are some shots of the local art museum.  Saw an amazing and wonderful exhibit

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. Roger

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Sad to report that our former neighbor in the SF Bay Area has died. Roger and his mother (pictured) both died within 10 days of one another. He was a well-known and tremendously talented photographer, who was one of the nicest, most helpful and creative individuals I have ever met. He will be missed by his family, many friends and fans.

So long, Roger.

A Lazy Day at the Lake

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We’re spending most of this month in the Reno/Tahoe area. Today was a bright and breezy day that we decided to spend at the lake.  Here are some of the shots that I took.  They could have been better, but I shot the majority of them from a moving car, since I didn’t want to take my big camera on our hike.  Hope you enjoy.  Best viewed with your screen enlarged and sound on.

Busy September

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September has proven to be one of the busiest months I’ve had in a long time.  Then again, I say that about virtually every month.  As I grow older, I really expected things to slow down rather than speed up, but that has not been the case.

(Charlie, I know I owe you a phone call.  I haven’t forgotten, and will call as soon as I can. #CharlieZero.)

Work has been overwhelming.  I’ve had three major work projects going on.  One has been professional fact checking that keeps me up late into the night.  The other is a research job that I’ve signed a NDA about, so can’t discuss, and the other one, of course, is the never ending Chinese catalog that Ive worked on for the past 3 years.

I have also been making art like a fiend, and have three pieces going into a gallery that I’ve always wanted to show in.  They are all Frida Kahlo pieces for a Day of the Dead Show.  I’ll write more about them at a later date.

Our granddaughter, Maya, visited recently, and spent a few days with us.  It was great to see her and to get caught up. Her life is as busy as mine, so our communications aren’t as strong as they could be, but the love is definitely still there.

John and I recently worked a wine festival in West Linn, just for the fun of it.  Had such a good time.  We were invited to sign up by Rae Gordon, a local blues singer with whom I’ve recently become friends.

I’ve been taking long walks and enjoying the incredibly beautiful, mild weather we’ve been having here in Portland.  This is such a beautiful city.  I couldn’t be happier here. I laugh at my stalker’s efforts to disparage it.

And on that note, I’ll sign off for now.  Ciao~  See you in the big city.

 

Recreating Memories

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When my children were young, we had a beautiful 6 bedroom Cape Cod vacation home on a huge lake, at the edge of the woods in Maine.  It was an old home that we remodeled, one with hand-hewn beams, and a big concert grand piano sitting before a picture window that overlooked the lake.

I would awaken before anyone else each moring, and quietly sip my coffee as I watched the deer playing in the valley between us and the lake. There was always mist on the ground, swirly clouds of it, just before the sun came up fully.  It was a magical view.

When the sun had risen, I would go out back and pick fresh raspberries or blueberries, when they were available, and would wake everyone up with the scintillating aroma of fresh berry muffins.  When berries weren’t available, I would bake cinnamon or fresh vanilla ones, or sometimes, lemon poppyseed ones.  Each of my children, at one time or another, has recalled the feelings of walking up to those scents, and how, to this day, smelling any of them when they pass a bakery evokes memories of the wonderful times we had there sailing, hiking, roaming the woods, canoeing, and visiting with our copious Italian family around bondfires at night, or with the friends who would fly out from Texas to join us.

I thought about that this morning as I baked fresh muffins for John and for Maya.  I was with Steve, my now-deceased former husband, back then, and Maya wasn’t born yet….so today, I spent an extra hour recreating my own memories for them.  Albeit urban and not rural, their memories of this morning will mean awakening to the smell of fresh blueberry muffins. The berries are from the Farmer’s Market, and not the back yard, and there are no woods nor lake within site, but still, this will be a happy memory for them.

Today marks the last day Maya will be with us for awhile.  She is in nursing school in Seattle, and is working full time, so she doesn’t get to visit often.  However, when she wakes up, she will smell the muffins before she gets out of bed.  Same thing for John.  They will both remember how beautiful this day is in gorgeous Portland, where the temperatures are not expected to rise over 74 degrees. They will awaken to the music of The Mastersons, and the hot muffins and delicious coffee, and a hearty breakfast, and it will be a good memory for them, because they will always remember how much I love them.

That’s how things roll around here. We have such a good life.  Simple plesures are the best.

Ignoring My Stalker

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Today marks the third anniversary of letting go of the emotional hold that my stalker had on me.  I simply turned my back and walked away and didn’t lose a thing, except a silly mosquito buzzing around my head.  Life is so much sweeter now.

Ignoring the stalker has made more room in my emotional headspace, so I no longer fear opening my door to find the stalker standing there with a gun.  I was told that it was a very real possibility for a long time.  Now, I feel zero fear, because I have taken away her power to affect me.

This decision ….the one to start ignoring her, was so powerful….so empowering and liberating that I can barely even describe its emotional impact.  She has continued her nonsense on a myriad of levels. I have simply ignored it.  This feels much better…..and nothing else has changed.  Nothing.

This video explains my feelings perfectly.  It’s called, “Forgive Assholes – Have a Little Faith.”

Thinking about the creative process…

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Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

—Steve Jobs

I woke very early this morning, still aglow from the excitement of the last couple of days.  I was dreaming of lying my head against the cool window of the return flight home….the buzz of the jet….the slight vibration and the faint voices from the back of the cabin. Then, I was awake….and now, I’m heading out for an early morning walk before  I go back to playing catch up with work.  Heading down to Lauretta Jeans for breakfast….or maybe I’ll walk over to Harlow on Hawthorne.  I won’t know until I’m actually outside.

I usually make a nice breakfast for the two of us on Sunday mornings.  John loves my cornmeal waffles….fresh OJ….et al….but today, I’m letting him sleep in.  I need the quiet as I contemplate the 3 art pieces I’m working on.  I’ve been pacing myself slowly, making careful decisions, but at the point where I now am, I have to make adjustments.  I have to spend time alone processing everything.  It can be an agonizing process.

I have learned to be quiet when I’m making these types of decisions.  I weigh my options…”Does the shading look better this way or that way?…..Should I use this mixed media element, or glass? …”  Unless one is an artist, I seriously doubt he or she has any idea of the internal process associated with creativity.  It can be hard work!

I’ve just taken two magnificent Michael DeMeng workshops that provided me with new skills and new options.  His paint applications are already hard at work on a sculpture that I’ve done. I free-handed a Frida Kahlo head from clay, and have now painted it, trying to immulate the look of Mexican folk art.  It is to be attached to a big mosaic butterfly that I’ve made from glass and wood.  The other piece is a penny mosaic that I oxydized wigh vinegar to get the turquoise copper patina. I’m doing a stencil cutout of Frida’s face, made of leather.  It’s coming along, and I’m happy with the background, but there is something about the face that is off…She looks unhappy.  Well, I guesss she WAS unhappy, so perhaps I shouldn’t worry about that one so much.  The third piece is a mixed media mosaic of her face, and I’m trying to decide whether I should stick it to a brightly colored resin background or onto a beautiful slab of walnut….and if I use the walnut, should I attach silver milagres to it?  Decisions…decisions….

People used to think that the left side of the brain was the analytical side and that the right side was the creative side. Subsequent research, however, indicates that the WHOLE brain works toward the creative process…..toward ANY process, actually. Everything from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification– consists of many interacting cognitive processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what one is actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.  So right now, I guess I’m at the incubation stage….mulling over what I’ve done up until now….thinking about the next steps.

The two main stages in my own creative process involve stimulation, then intense concentration and withdrawal into myself before I can finally culminate my thoughts into some kind of outward expression.  These processes can be agonizing, but then, something happens and it all seems to fit together in the end, and there is a sensation of relief….a relief of pressure and anxiety.

However these pieces turn out, they will be loved by some and hated by others.  That is the bittersweetness of being an artist.  In any case, I’m thrilled to be going in to this particulr gallery.  I’ve wanted to show there for years, but simply did not apply until now.  I’m happy….and feeling accomplished.

 

 

Celebration of a Sweet Man

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Yesterday was my husband, John’s birthday.  He has a heart condition, so each birthday is a blessing.  As it stands, I cherish each moment that we can spend together. John is one of the kindest men I have ever met, always willing to jump in and help….not only me, around the house, but our family….and everyone, really.  If ever I take issue with anything he says or does, his response is always the same:  “Let’s sit down and talk about this. ”  He is an intellectual with a kind heart.  He is interesting, enormously talented and a lot of fun to be around.  We love taking day trips together, working on projects around the house and having long talks into the night.  He does tech work for me when I make art, and offers helpful suggestions.  He never raises his voice to me, is dependable and a good provider.  I am so lucky to have him in my life!

(Oh…and although his hair looks purple in this picture, it really isn’t. 😉 )

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Stacy and John in Reno.  Photo by Kat Wilson

My gift to him this year was a Tuck and Patti concert at the Alberta Rose theater. I have seen Tuck and Patti perform many times, beginning back in the 80s.  However, this show was the best one of them all.

My friend, Adlai Alexander opened.  He could have been the headliner.  I first heard of Adlai from my best friend, formerly from Reno, who lived and performed there at the same time as Adlai.  I was so happy to learn that Portland is Adlai’s home now.  What an enormous talent and a sweet-hearted man Adlai is!  We enjoy his work tremendously.  Tuck Andress was his guitar teacher back in Palo Alto, and he is close friends with Tuck and Patti.  The love between the trio was obvious.

Tuck and Patti are still very strong performers.  Tuck did a couple of guitar solos and told some great stories.  Patti also told some entertaining stories, one of which reminded me of John and myself.  Their relationship seems to be a lot like ours.

Like Adlai, Tuck Andress is a phenomenal guitarist, one of the best I have ever heard.  He definitely has a distinct style:

Tuck and Patti gave us a sample of a children’s album that will be coming out soon…in September, I think.  I cannot wait to buy it for Ingrid!     Rene Best

One of the highlights of the evening was when Hershal Yatovitz jointed Tuck and Patti and Adlai onstage for some amazing guitar playing and a beatuiful couple of songs. Adlai’s exquisite voice was the perfect match for Patti’s smooth-as-good-whiskey, velvety voice.

We also loved their rendition of “All of Me”.  It was fantastic!

John claims that I couldn’t have given him a better gift, which thrilled me.

Yesterday was his actual birthday, which we celebrated with family at Lauretta Jean’s pie shop, John’s favorite neighborhood haunt.  Pie and booze….which included a nice shot of Jameson for him.

I am so happy that we had this rich experience together, and I hope and pray for many more birthday celebrations together in our future.  It will be hard to top this one next year, though!

Thanks to Adlai, Hershel, Tuck, Patti, Sarah-Lynda, Nathan and, of course, little Ingrid.  It was a beautiful weekend.

Update from Portland

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It’s been awhile since I’ve updated.  I have to be soooo careful about what I write here these days, that it just isn’t as fun as it used to be….but all of that is changing.  This has been a busy summer….between work, dragon boating, musical events, entertaining friends, taking care of Ingrid and going on day trips with John, there has been little time for the computer…other than work related stuff.

I was FORCED to take a break this past week, as my tiny granddaughter lent me her strep throat for a week, which has now developed into pneumonia.  sigh….But it takes a lot more than that to keep me down for long.

All in all, things are going beautifully.  I’ve been spending a lot of time speaking with my mom, and luxuriating in her final years upon this earth.  She has really opened up to me about a lot of things that are comforting to know.

In addition to my other jobs, I am also working part time as a professional fact checker now, too, which is VERY interesting.  When legislation is passed, I am required to read the actual legislation.  When a statement is made, i have to trace it to its sources.  It is difficult sometimes, but what it has done, is solidly cement my political convictions.  Now, I have NO DOUBT of who is lying and who isn’t.

Have been going to many, many, many musical events this summer.  Have made friends with an amazing blues singer, Rae Gordon, and we try to hit her shows whever she plays.  Think Aretha Franklin mets Janis Joplin.  The woman is amazing.

I have two art workshops coming up with Michael DeMeng, a rising star in the art world.  Really looking forward to these.  Coincidentally, they will take place in the same studio where I meet with my art group to create twice a month.

Dragon boating remains an outstanding outlet for me.  There is simply nothing like being out on the water early in the morning as the sleepy city comes to life.  We see all kinds of wildlife along the banks.  It is incredible….deer….eagles…beavers…

The weather has been very pleasant all summer.  Got up to 90 today, which is very unusual for us, but most of the summer has been in the low 80s and gorgeous.

Feeling joyful.  Feeling thankful that I live in this incredible city.  It just gets more and more beautiful all the time.  I’ve gained many new friends this year, and have lost ZERO friends, after a rough couple of years with the deaths of people who were close to me.  However, everything is going super well in life…..and in love. (wink wink)

For now….that’s all she wrote.  I’ll be back soon.

 

Visiting Wine Country

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The Oregon wine country is quickly becoming one of the biggest hotspots in the world for high quality wine and breathtaking scenery.  This is especially true since the recent Napa Valley fires.  (My family lives in Napa, so I might question this distinction, because I am so fond of that valley and its wine, but I  *LIVE*  in Oregon, so there’s that.)

The following slideshow features shots from the Allison Inn, where we were over the weekend.  The animal shots are from our friends’ home nearby, where we stopped briefly yesterday.  (That is she with the green hair…)  😉

Needless to say, it was an incredible weekend!

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The luxury spa and hotel overlooks the Williamette Valley, and has exquisite views.  After our perfect brunch, I strolled the grounds, taking a few pictures, which I’d like to share with you here:

 

Jetsetting It

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Just got in from an impromptu trip.  Don’t you love it that, thanks to modern technology, you can get a call from someone.  Hop a train to the airport in 12 minutes, and be at your destination in another state in a matter of hours?  Cost me under $300 round-trip.  Spent zero while I was there.  Had LOTS of fun….and now I’m home.

Had to get up long before dawn to catch the next flight home, but I made it. Just walked in the door.  Last night feels like a dream….a great big wonderful dream, and I’m all smiles this morning.

The sun is shining today, but it is warm, and not hot, which I love.  I look forward to spending the day with John working on our house and yard. It is so rare for us both to have a day off together.  We’re planning to take full advantage of it.

Big project of the day for me is to prepare the patio to paint it. John will be trimming the hedge.  Tonight….another musical night out.  Looking forward to it.

Thinking of my precious father today.   He was a good and honorable soldier who served his country with pride, and is a generally good person today.  Wishing I could be there with him.

Happy Veterans Day, everyone.

 

 

More on my Dragonboat Adventure

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Now that I have been a dragonboater for a week, I return with a fresh perspective.  The first thing I can report is that I feel definite changes in my body.  This is a sport that focuses primarily on the body’s core for effectiveness.  I can feel my stomach muscles firming up considerably, after only a week. My upper arms are firmer.  My thighs.  Yes, this sport has its physical benefits, but the practice also has mental and emotional benefits.

The second thing that I can report is that I have had a different caller/instructor every day, and each one of them has told me something completely different.  Hinge at the waist.  Don’t hinge from the waist.  Hold the paddle at the base of the blade.  Hold the paddle higher than that.  Sweep the side of the boat with the paddle. Plunge forward.  Keep the arm straight.  Bend the arm.  Conflicting information galore….but this is not a complaint.  I’m enjoying learning the different options.  It’s just difficult at times.

Three days a week now, I rise long before the sun does to prepare for practice. John loves to go with me and watch from the sidewalk cafe as I paddle across the river .  However, he was in California over the last few days, so I’ve been taking the bus downtown on my own.

There is something about the Portland bus service that makes the experience a good one.  The way the bus driver gets out to help the blind man across the street.  How he or she greets riders as they enter the bus, or thanks us when we leave.  Just one more thing I love about Portland.

The bus crosses the river and lets me out just on the other side.  Then, I walk about a quarter mile throught flocks of resting Canadian geese, and arrive at the Little River Cafe.  Sometimes I get there before it  opens, and I simply sit outside and enjoy the majestic views. Other times, I’ll wander down the hill to the dock and walk to the end of it where I will do some yoga stretches while I wait.

It is stunningly beautiful at this place.  There is a little island, called Ross Island, that we paddle by.  Deer peeked out at us one morning.  Two gigantic blue herons flew inches over our heads.  Flowers everywhere.  Beauty.  Nature.  It is all so astonishing, and especially against the urban backddrop.  It feels like my own little secret right there in the city, but I am far from alone.  There are more than 160 members on my team alone.  This is a popular sport with many different teams with members of all levels.

Everyone converges at the end of the dock by 8:30.  Getting into the boat has become less difficult for me than it was at first.  I feel steadier now.  Getting out of the boat is more difficult, as it is a long, narrow boat sitting DOWN in the water, rather than up high, so to exit, one must climb up as the boad sways.  I’m sporting a big, blue bruise on one of my shins due to an early effort.

My level of energy gets me through the entire practice without exhaustion.  However, I am definitely ready to head home when we reach the shores again.  I always feel invigorated and happy from the dopamine and adrenalin surges that come with an intense morning workout.  This lasts throughout my day.  The world simply looks a little brighter.

Yesterday was sunny and warm.  Of course, I forgot my hat.  I am a pale-skinned woman who gets sunburned easily despite slathering myself with sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.  Ah, well….a small price to pay for so much pleasure.  I feel so happy, like everything is really falling into place now.  Contentment. Joy.  Peace.  Love.  Happiness.

I did it!

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Today, I started training for dragon boat paddling. It was magnificent.  We met at the Little River Cafe downtown near the Willamette River.  I introduced myself to a few people as a newby, and managed to piece together enough information to get started.  Everyone was very nice and helpful.

Once seated in my practice boat, I kept my ears open for Carolina’s instructions.  She was our caller.  However, I kept my eyes on Peg, who was the woman seated in front of me.  (That was what I was suppoed to do.)  I followed Peg’s lead.  She is experienced, and a good example to follow.

We rowed out along Ross Island.  It was surreal to be out on the water making a team effort at that beautiful early-morning hour.  We paddled by a crane rookery and say blue herons and their offspring, which was a thrill for this nature lover.  We were surrounded by beautiful trees and nature, but in an urban environment…so we paddled under two freeways and could see the downtown skyscrapers.

The workout was good.  To paddle, you have to extend one leg, tuck in the other leg, and turn from the waste, and you bury the paddle straight down into the water and pull with your core.  Many instructions that are easy to confuse!

Soon, I will be ready to train for the dragon boat races, an iternational festival that is celebrated in Portland each year.   Here is a little video of our launch spot and what the festival looks like.  This was from five years ago: