Month: January 2024

Winter intrudes


Wow. Wow.

What a couple of weeks.

Those of you in the US, or other cold climates, are you holding up OK? Here in Portland we have finally thawed out, as of yesterday/today, but wow, that was a challenging stretch.

I’m extremely grateful for 1) never losing power, in all four places I stayed during this time; 2) always being warm enough; and 3) kind people—both previously known and unknown to me—who stepped forward to help me when I was struggling to navigate it all.

For those of you who may not know, Portland didn’t used to have very cold or snowy or icy winters. Temps might dip below freezing a bit, for a few days each year. We might or might not get a couple-few inches of snow, which would magically shut things down for a few days… and then we would get back to the rain and highs around 45F/7C.

Now, the new norm seems to be at least one major (at least for us, since we are not municipally well prepared) storm each year.

In this case, temperatures plummeted as low as 15F/-9C, and hovered around there for several days. Then the mercury rose to within a few degrees of freezing, and stayed there for about a week. Meanwhile, we were having various combinations of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and regular rain, which then made all the ice on the roads and sidewalks extra slippery.

I began the storm at the luxury NW Portland apartment of one elderly kitty by the name of Mac, who unfortunately had had a very dramatic gastrointestinal disturbance shortly before my arrival. (His people told me that this happens to him about once a month.) By the time I walked in, a few hours after the couple had departed, he had seemingly purged the contents of his entire digestive tract—from both ends—onto almost every hard and soft surface in the entire apartment. I felt bad for him, of course (and couldn’t find him at first, which worried me, but I eventually discovered him under the bed) but I was also gobsmacked by the breadth of “destruction” possible by one small senior kitty.

I texted his people, and they walked me through a cleanup routine which actually ended up being more effective than I would have guessed. After a few hours—including about 30 minutes of using baby wipes on all hard surfaces, followed by two loads of laundry for the bed and sofa covers—the place looked totally back to normal. And Mac, having literally gotten it all out of his system, seemingly felt fine for the rest of the four days, just relaxing on the bed.

After an initial grocery stockup upon my arrival, just before the temperatures dipped below freezing, I didn’t leave the apartment for the next four days of the sit.

Unfortunately, by the time the sit was over, the weather was still below freezing, and I also didn’t have another sit for another two days. I put out a call to request friends and members of various hosting groups to host me. Several people did offer, but unfortunately all of them were either on the east side of the river or in the western suburbs. I knew I wouldn’t be able to navigate those distances on my bike, and the MAX trains and streetcars—which could have accommodated my rig, unlike city buses—were all suspended from service because of the temperatures.

I knew I had to stay within walking distance of that sit. But that limited me to very few options, and also cost me about $150, which I could ill afford.

Despite the cost, I was eternally grateful that the wonderful NW Portland Hostel was able to make a weather-related exception to their policy of not allowing guests with local ID. I stayed there for two nights, and it was a delightful experience in their vintage buildings.

My walk over there with my rig—about 16 blocks—was surprisingly comfortable, given the 27-degree (-3C) temperature.

There was no precipitation falling, and I even caught a cool reflection shot of myself in front of Portland’s classic old movie theater Cinema 21.

Arriving to my room the first night, I was so grateful for the warmth and coziness! They even provided a free bagel-and-peanut-butter breakfast the next morning.

Unfortunately, however, after that first night, a fire sprinkler outside the hostel succumbed to the temperatures, and stopped working. They couldn’t repair it, because the part they needed to replace couldn’t be procured with all local hardware stores closed for the weather.

Therefore, to be safe they had to shut off the water to the building where I was staying. Fortunately, the neighoring building had open rooms, so they gave me a key to a new room. I was initially reluctant to have to pack up everything and move to the next building on the ice—with a light rain falling—but once I did, I found that the new room was much larger and more deluxe than the original! Cool free upgrade.

After those two nights, the streets were still looking impassable by my rig, and the trains still weren’t running. (And even if they had been, they would have only carried me about half of the 6.3 mile/10 km distance I needed to travel, some of it uphill.)

The hostel folks were kind enough to let me leave the bike, trailer, and even my suitcase in their basement storage room, locked up securely, for the extra two days of my cat sit in SE Portland. I packed a few extra items from the suitcase into my backpack, and set out with the backpack, my smaller hydration backpack, and a few extra layers of clothes on my person—none packed, for lack of space—to catch a couple of buses for about an hour’s journey.

On the first bus, shortly after I boarded I witnessed a tense confrontation, between a slightly built elderly woman in obvious mental-illness distress and the bus driver. The passenger appeared to be homeless. When she boarded the bus, she began speaking and moving aggressively, especially towards the driver. A fellow passenger—a security guard on his way to work—stepped in to help “encourage” the woman off the bus, but it was very tense because he seemed to have little to no empathy for her, and in fact seemed to quietly relish the possibility that he might need to physically remove her. When she finally did get off the bus, he boasted to the driver that he had brandished his knife to intimidate her.

So… back out she went into the barely-above-freezing temperatures. Everyone remained relatively physically safe, but no one really won in that situation.

The bus drove on, eventually depositing me at my transfer point, but we just missed the transferring bus, so I had to wait, with one other passenger, for another 15 minutes, at an unsheltered bus stop, on a solid sheet of sidewalk ice, while rain fell on us. Fortunately, my clothing kept me warm and dry, and I made a conscious effort to keep a smile on my face, knowing that everything was working out for me in one way or another.

We boarded the new bus, which then dropped me off three blocks from the cat sitting house. The walk to the house looked and felt treacherous, but I made it with no falls.

Inside the house, a portly and droll mustachioed feline, aptly named Groucho, welcomed me into the warmth and coziness.

I thawed out there for the next two days, but not without some stress, since my food rations were running low, and getting to the grocery store in those conditions was out of the question. I also didn’t want to order any grocery or restaurant delivery, since that would have put the delivery driver in danger.

I had lined up a welcoming couple, via Host a Sister, to host me just about a mile away for the following two nights, but despite my best efforts to trust life, anxiety continued to gnaw at me for the two days of that cat sit, seeing that the ice out front was not budging.

Not only would I have to travel the mile to get to their place, I would also need to stop for a few essential groceries—including badly needed toiletries—and I also would need to go all the way back to the hostel, across the river, to retrieve the bike, trailer, and suitcase.

How was I going to do this? I guessed that maybe, since I had rain pants and rubber-palmed gloves, I would just need to crawl on my hands and knees—balancing both backpacks and a plastic bag of a few extra items—the two or three blocks to the bus stop. Once I got to the hostel via those two buses again, I expected I would need to order an Uber (a $25 gift card for which Mac’s folks had given me to offset the unpleasantness of my extreme cleanup experience) to drive me and the rig and suitcase back to SE Portland. But would the Uber driver want my grungy belongings in their car? Would they fit? I expected I would need to pay extra for a larger car, but I still wasn’t fully confident that all drivers would welcome my extra “baggage.”


However, after a humorous-but-slightly-pitiful-sounding post I made on Facebook, a miracle-worker acquaintance of mine sprang into rescue mode. She let me know that she lived near the house of the couple who were my final destination of the day, and that she had an AWD Subaru as well as some STABILicer spiked shoe covers she could loan me. She was willing to pick me up from the iced-in house; take me grocery shopping; buy me lunch (she insisted! and the lunch included chocolate, at her further insistence); take me to the hostel; wait while I retrieved all my belongings from the basement; help me to load them into her car; and then carry me back across the river to my new hosts, Hannah and Matt.

Wow. Gratitude does not begin to express how I felt. (And when I messaged her again later, to thank her once again, she made a point to volunteer any future “ferrying” of my rig, if needed. Some people are absolutely amazing.)

I had a great stay for two nights with Hannah and Matt, while the ice and snow slowly melted outside. I ventured out for lunch at a nearby vegan restaurant the second day, and happened to run into a longtime acquaintance I hadn’t seen in years; apparently he has lived in that neighborhood for twenty years!

Today, I made the trek—via my rig, hallelujah!!—from their house to my old friend Alison’s house, also in SE Portland, which she shares with her husband and their housemate, who apparently is also a cat sitter! I will be here for two nights as well.

Meanwhile, as of this afternoon, I have managed to line up lodging and/or cat sits for the remainder of my time in Portland, which takes a big load off my mind.

I have also lined up a couple of confirmed, and several hopefully-soon-to-be-confirmed, cat sits for February and March all around the San Diego area, including—for those of you who know—Escondido, Carlsbad, University Heights, South Park, Point Loma, and Mission Bay.


Magic and human kindness are real, and as long as I can keep my anxiety in check—a work in progress, but I’m pretty proud of how often I succeed these days—I can really enjoy the journey!

I hope you are all staying warm and safe… and joyful!

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Heading back to California!


I’m so excited! In December, I completed all the medical procedures that had brought me back to Portland this time, despite my distaste for the weather here. I’m so happy to be on the other side of all of that! And, as a silver lining I have managed to capture a few nice “mood shots” of some of my bicycle and transit adventures here in the rain and early darkness.

Now it’s January, and I’m choosing to stay another month here because I’ve really enjoyed reconnecting in person with my former partner, now close friend, Johnny. (Who, by the way, after an extraordinary past seven years manifesting an incredible Japanese healing garden inside the maximum-security Oregon State Penitentiary, will be seeing the parole board this year for his first time, after 26 years of incarceration. If you know and love Johnny—even just through me, as I know many of you do—and if you’d like to possibly support him in his bid for parole, please let me know! It’s going to take a village, and he will need everything from letters of support to employment opportunities, to housing, and more, in order to put together a viable parole plan.)

But meanwhile, I’ve been yearning to get back to the warmth and sunshine—especially since Portland has a polar vortex on the way for about a week, starting tomorrow, with temps dipping down to 15F/-9C—so I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself to get back down south.

And the other day, that opportunity presented itself! My friends Trina and Phil, in Escondido just north of San Diego, will be visiting Portland in early February, and offered me to cat sit for their sweetie Lily while they are gone.

I have visited Trina there before, for a magical meeting on her beautiful jungle of a balcony overlooking the pool, so I’m excited to do this! I also have other friends in Escondido and San Diego I’m hoping to see (including my friend Michele, who took that top photo of me on the beach back in 2016) and my intention is for this one-week sit to launch me into at least two months in southern California, doing various sits as I can find them. (Do you know anyone around San Diego or LA who might need a cat sitter?) I’m looking forward to also connecting and/or staying with various friends and Servas, Warmshowers, and Host a Sister hosts. I’m excited for all the new and amazing people I will be meeting!

Speaking of which, I’ve had a wonderful past week, with many magical feline and human connections. First, I sat for two really mellow and cute kitties in the Pearl district, Monte and Theo.

Then, I stayed three nights with a wonderful Servas couple in Westmoreland. (Like me, they also moved to Portland in 1990.) Most recently, I’m now being hosted by an incredible woman from Host a Sister, just a few blocks away from my condo here in SE Portland! I’ve got one more night with a friend of a friend here in SE tonight, then four or five nights with a wonderful sweetie of a 13-year-old kitty named Mac, in NW Portland.

I’m finding that it continues to be a growing edge for me to navigate finding places to stay. I’ve been living this lifestyle, in one way or another, for almost two and a half years now, and it has been absolutely wonderful. I’m always having meaningful adventures, and I never get bored! I meet incredible people at every turn. This is the life of my dreams! But wow, it was a bit of a nail-biter for me this past week, when I had a six-day gap between sits, and was struggling to fill it. It has worked out swimmingly, though, so I’m choosing to trust that I will also find just the right place—either a sit or a host—for next Tuesday and Wednesday, the 16th and 17th. After I sit for Mac—and before I sit for the next cutie, Groucho, in SE Portland on the 18th—we will have sub-freezing temperatures and quite possibly snow. I am concerned about how I can even navigate safely to whatever next host I find. I will put it out here, just on the off chance that anyone reading here might know someone who could host me for at least the 16th, and maybe the 17th, in NW Portland within about half a mile of 21st& Raleigh. If so, please feel free to work your magic and connect us!

But as my current host Carolyn reassured me last night, magic has been holding me so far, and it will continue to do so. I will find the perfect, wonderful place for those two nights, and I’m excited to discover where, and with whom, that might be!

And, I have already manifested nearly $200 of that $600-$1000 I need to head south. It happened within about 24 hours of my making the decisive choice to take the trip, so I trust that I am on the right track for my life’s continuing journey, and the rest of that money will find me in the next few weeks.

And… on February 2nd, I am so excited to board that magical Coast Starlight train once again, to the land of sunshine!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a free, no-strings one-hour phone or video call with me!

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The amazing Vanessa Pan and her Calvillo ecovillage


Happy 2024, everyone! I hope that the new year will bring us all, individually and collectively, closer to our dreams.

I have just finished up a two-week cat sit for a sprightly orange fluffball named Viggo!

During that time, I also completed all the medical tasks I had returned to Portland to complete. In the span of about three weeks, I donated plasma four times; attended three OsteoStrong sessions; had two doctor’s appointments with blood draws; had my first colonoscopy; got my latest COVID and shingles vaccines; received an IV iron infusion; and even had a surprise visit to an urgent-care clinic when an incident on a city bus soundly bonked my (thankfully bike-helmeted!) head into the wall of the bus. (Fortunately, I seem to have walked away from that incident unscathed—whew!)

I am so glad to be on the other side of all that. I plan to stay in Portland another month—through January—and then, depending on finances, I hope to spend February and March in a warmer place, such as southern California, Arizona, or possibly even Austin, Texas. We’ll see! (Know anyone with extra Amtrak points they’d like to gift to me? Feel free to put us in touch!)

The good news is, I did have some downtime during my sit with Viggo, which allowed me to have a few magical meetings. One of these I would like to share with you: the force of nature that is Vanessa Pan!

In early December, I spent two nights at the cohousing home of an amazing woman named Elisabeth Seaman, in Mountain View, California. During our visit, I told Elisabeth about my magical-meeting practice, and asked if she knew of anyone I should reach out to in that vein. She told me about Vanessa.

Vanessa grew up in the Bay Area as well, but now lives in Guanajuato, Mexico, where she is partnering with a group of people—both local and non-local—to build a sustainable ecovillage, Calvillo, just outside the city.

Vanessa is an amazing person. Early in life, she set a goal for herself to learn three languages by age 30, by immersing herself in three different countries: first France, then China, then Mexico (Guadalajara). She also spent time living back in the Bay, as well as Maui.

Just a few weeks ago, she moved from Maui to Guanajuato, and is partnering with local folks—as well as her French boyfriend, who recently moved from France to be with her, and is currently learning Spanish—to build this ambitious and beautiful ecovillage.

The ecovillage will sit on 12 acres of land, currently owned by a local Mexican woman whose family had held the land up until now. That woman will sell six of the acres to the ecovillage community.

Although Vanessa is American, her vision is for at least 2/3 of the residents to be local Mexican folks, because she does not want this ecovillage to be an “expat Disneyland,” like some other ecovillages in Mexico and Central America seem to be.

The property will consist of eleven plots, with one to three households per plot. The community will be multigenerational, and will allow for aging in place. The early community members have already planted a “natural fence” of cacti and other prickly plants, and soon they will plant 100 fruit trees.

The ecovillage is situated near one of the country’s top universities. Vanessa has a vision that the community may offer free housing to a handful of graduates of this university, such as physicians and elder- and childcare providers, in exchange for offering their professional skills to community members. For example, they might agree to spend 5-10 hours per week sharing their services, as well as to mentor their successors when they feel it is time to leave the community.

Vanessa and Elisabeth had met when Vanessa toured Elisabeth’s cohousing community, Mountain View Cohousing Community, as one of six cohousing communities around the United States that she visited for research during the planning stages for the ecovillage.

(She also visited FrogSong, in Sonoma County’s Cotati, which some of you may recall I also visited in my year of travels, back in November of 2021. Vanessa told me that Marcin, my FrogSong host, was a great resource for her in her planning, since he had been one of the original planners of FrogSong, more than 20 years ago.)

I also shared with Vanessa some of my experiences at Louisa County, Virginia’s fossil-fuel-free intentional community, Living Energy Farm, which you may recall I visited in April of 2022. After she and I talked, I found these two recent video interviews with Living Energy Farm’s founder, Alexis Bledel, which I encourage you to watch if you want to be inspired: 

I love meeting inspiring community builders like Vanessa! I am excited to watch her bring this dream to fruition.

If you know of anyone she might appreciate talking with—or vice versa—feel free to let me know, and I can put you in touch.

And, as always, if you know of anyone I might have a great magical meeting (one-hour video chat) with, please let me know as well!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a free, no-strings one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)