Maren

SoCal so far: rain, shine, challenges, and beauty

2/29/24

Wow, how did more than three weeks go by since my last post? Time flies in the sunshine, I guess…

Actually, however, the first week of my time in San Diego County was marred by almost constant rain. It was a “trial by flood” for me: so painful to leave the rain of Portland to reach the sun down here, and yet have my familiar pattern repeat itself: this was at least the fourth or fifth time in the past dozen years that my “sunny winter SoCal getaway” has turned out to be rainy and/or cold, despite continual protestations from the locals that “this never happens here!”

Honestly, that was a rough week for me, not least because the rain also seemed to prevent my host’s internet from working well (we’re not in Portland anymore, folks!) so I forfeited a good chunk of my projected week’s Cambly earnings when I was simply unable to connect to the platform. (Foreshadowing, as it turned out—more on that below.)

But after forcing me to endure that meteorological “hazing” week, the weather gods relented, and since then it has been mostly sunny skies and warm temps, and I am loving every minute of it!

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow of the past three weeks, but here is a brief summary:

I stayed for just over a week with some wonderful hosts in Carlsbad. (That’s Kimberly holding the umbrella over us outside her front door, shortly before she departed for her excursion to Antarctica!)

I have sat for three adorable cats so far: Lily the ebony beauty in Escondido, Theo the gorgeous tabby in University Heights, and Phifey the snuggly cutie here in Mission Bay. (Theo was lucky he was so pretty—his youthful antics tested my patience daily! The other two kitties, though, were a sitter’s dream: snuggly cuteness coupled with easygoing personalities. At this very moment, in fact, Phifey is fast asleep, snuggled up against my leg here on the couch.)

I have been out and about to reconnect with a number of friends from over the years, and to see many beautiful natural places.

Those places include the Bottle Peak County Preserve;

the San Diego Botanic Garden;

a couple of parks and beaches in Encinitas;

the San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden;

Mission Bay;

and La Jolla, including a lovely bike path and Seal Cove!

This pic of my muddy rig is from the Coaster, the regional-transit train between San Diego and Oceanside to the north.

That was the day I moved from Carlsbad to University Heights, and got thoroughly soaked. (In a bizarre twist, almost all of my moves between hosts or sits here have taken place on the few rainy days we have had. You could almost set a clock to it. I’m heading up north of LA day after tomorrow, on the 2nd, and rain is predicted once again, after nearly two weeks of sunshine. I will have an all-day multimodal journey by bicycle and multiple trains on that day.)

Remarkably, though, kind friends and hosts have offered me rides on some of those rainy days, saving me from soggy misery. But that one day (and, I fear, this coming Saturday) I faced the elements on my own. Thank goodness for rain gear, transit vehicles that can accommodate my rig, and space heaters to dry out waterlogged shoes at the end of the day!

The sunshine has indeed been the balm for my soul that I had hoped for. However, my time here has not been devoid of challenges, beyond the weather and transportation.

My finances are once again stressing me out. I have less savings in my emergency fund now than at any point since I began my travels in September of 2021. Coming down here by train cost me a pretty penny. I gauged it to be a worthwhile expense, given how strongly I wanted to not only be in a different weather pattern, but also to prove to myself that I was making progress in my life goal to do so. (Living multiple months of the winter here has been my goal for at least the past twelve years, and this is my first time to actually do it. Woohoo!!)

I therefore don’t regret the expenditure, but it has been made all the harder when unexpected extra expenses have arisen, such as higher cost for OsteoStrong’s monthly membership in California, coupled with the three-month moratorium on selling the plasma I used to sell to fund that, as a result of my December colonoscopy. The most recent shock, though, was receiving Cambly’s email the other day, notifying me that as of March 11th, their website will no longer be accessible from California. (Despite the fact that Cambly is based in California, the company has run afoul of the state’s labor laws, since they pay only $10.20 per hour, well below the state’s minimum wage, and also treat workers as contractors rather than employees.)

I can appreciate that the state of California wants to do right by workers; that is commendable. However, since nearly all my meager income does derive from that tutoring work, I will now be out about $500 for one month, at the same time that some of my expenses have increased.

Yikes.

It’s hard to know what kind of work I can do to fill in, in the meantime before I get back to Oregon and will be able to use Cambly again.

I am necessarily nomadic at this point, so anything I do can’t feasibly be in-person work. I have tried applying for online data annotation work, but I don’t think I passed their screening test, because I never heard back. I have tried offering some paid travel consulting or by-donation life coaching sessions online, but had little response. (One person did take me up on it, and we had a great session—if you’re reading, dear travel planner, thank you for that!)

In addition, another wonderful friend “fairy godfunded” me a $250 Amtrak gift card(!) which is allowing me to comfortably take a trip up north of Los Angeles for about a week and a half, since I hadn’t been able to find any cat sits nor hosts in the San Diego area for that particular gap.

This is exactly the sort of support I appreciate the most—it is directly aligned with both my work in the world, and my joy in the world.

That is the “prize” I’m keeping my eye on: to care deeply for myself and keep my self-care and joy as a priority, while also committing myself to doing my work in the world, to make this a better place for us all.

In that vein, I am continuing to do magical meetings with folks around the world, including—just this past week—South Africa, New Zealand, and Utah. From one of those folks—a fellow Servas member—I learned of two intriguing overseas possibilities I may look into: NALCAP, for tutoring English in person, in Spain(!) and Peace Boat, an amazing-sounding ship based in Japan that sails the world in service of peace and intercultural understanding; they are also seeking English teachers.

I’m keeping my eye out for opportunities for “day job” kinda stuff (let me know if you know of anything that might be a good fit) and I’m also continuing to lean into trust that my heart is my compass, and it knows what I am to do on this earth, and that if I keep committing and re-committing myself to it, the material resources I need will find me, as I need them. (Know any fairy godfunders who may feel a resonance with my journey? Feel free to introduce us!)

As always, thanks to you all for witnessing and supporting me in my journey. I wish you all a magical March!

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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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!)

Beautiful multimodal journey from Portland to SoCal

2/5/24

Hello from the deluge!

Wow. It’s been raining solidly for more than 24 hours here in Carlsbad, California, and the forecast tells us to expect a few more days of this. There have been flood warnings in the area, and some places north of here, around LA and Santa Barbara, have been losing power, experiencing mudslides, and worse. (I read about three fatalities so far in the region as a result of all this rain.)

Fortunately, I am warm and safe and dry with my Host a Sister host Kimberly (and her friend, brother, and pug Ruby) and she has graciously offered me a ride tomorrow to my upcoming cat sit in Escondido, 17 hilly and soggy miles east of here.

Kind and generous hosts continue to be a theme for me, especially from Facebook’s Host a Sister groups. Since my last blog post, I stayed for nine nights in northeast Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood, just south of the Alameda ridge, with a woman named Dee and her family. Coincidentally, during five of those nights I had the house to myself, when they all were vacationing in the San Diego area!

Small world.

Dee dropped me off three days ago at Portland’s Union Station, and my southbound adventure began!

I’ll mostly leave you with these photos to tell the rest of the story. A few notable items, though:

On the train, we didn’t see much rain, but skies were very cloudy and overcast for much of California (surprisingly not Oregon—that rainbow is from the stretch between Portland and Salem) which made for a different experience from the usual scenery. Normally, the sun sets spectacularly over the ocean, just north of Santa Barbara, on the second day of the journey. The darkening of the sky was much more subdued this time.

When we arrived in LA at about 9 pm, the rain was just starting. It made the 2.3-mile, mostly uphill, bike climb to my hotel less than wonderful, but I made it there and got a good night’s sleep, managing to capture a few cool night shots of LA along the way.

In the morning, I headed back to the train station to catch the Surfliner train to Oceanside.

However, the train only took us as far as Irvine, where track work (I think) forced us all to transfer to three buses to cover the final 40-minute leg of the journey.

Once in Oceanside, I set out on my bike ride with quite a bit of wind in the forecast. It did show up later—in the form of a headwind, of course—and even some blowing sand to complete the effect.

But first, I had mechanical troubles when my recently “repaired” trailer hitch began malfunctioning, dropping the trailer off the bike while I pedaled, no fewer than three times in a ten-block stretch. Thankfully, no harm came to the trailer nor anyone else on the road or sidewalk, but it was a stressful and dangerous situation.

Fortunately, when I stopped for lunch at a cute classic natural-foods store, I spotted a bike shop right across the street. They were able to help me out, and I got back on my way.

Much of the ride took place on a dedicated car-free path, right near the ocean. The sunny skies were wonderful, and I was biking in a T-shirt. This was what I came down here for! Later, some darker skies loomed, but miraculously, I completed the 13-mile bike ride a couple of hours before this relentless rain began.

And when I pulled up to Kimberly’s house, what should I see in her front yard, but a Little Free Library!

Small world.

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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Winter intrudes

1/22/24

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.”

Argh!

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.

Wow.

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!

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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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!)

Heading back to California!

1/11/24

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!

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!)

The amazing Vanessa Pan and her Calvillo ecovillage

1/1/24

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:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKJH9YZ5nqQ 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXvgp1q8Rfw 

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!)

A miracle of human kindness in Portland

12/15/23

I had quite a scare yesterday, but it turned into something beautiful.

I had set out from my wonderful friend Sandi’s house in north Portland, where she had kindly hosted me for a couple of nights between cat sits, to my new Host a Sister wonderful friend’s house, Cindy, in the beautiful neighborhood of Ladds Addition. (It was cool to be back in that area; for ten years I had lived on the edge of Ladds, in the Mulberry Apartments on SE 12th just south of Hawthorne, from 1996 to 2006.)

To make the trip, I loaded my rig onto the MAX light rail. (Sometimes I bike between houses, but if the weather is cold or rainy I prefer the MAX. Buses aren’t an option; the rig is too clunky to carry on board.)

I boarded near the New Seasons on Rosa Parks and Interstate, and disembarked at the station closest to Ladds Addition: Clinton St/SE 12th Ave.

I carefully rolled the rig off the train, making sure as always not to catch the hub of the trailer wheel on the closing door.

I cycled off the platform and into the neighborhood—probably about a 5-10 minute, quite pleasant, ride to Cindy’s house.

I arrived at the house, and was about to go up and ring the bell, when I discovered with shock that the trailer was not behind me. I was just on the bike by itself. (My Radical Design Chubby trailer—a product of Dutch ingenuity and engineering—is so well designed that I often can’t even feel it behind me as I ride, so I hadn’t noticed.)

I was stunned.

This had never happened.

What should I do??

I texted Cindy that I needed to go searching for the lost trailer, and would be back later. I hopped back on the bike, and retraced my route exactly, even riding the sidewalks the wrong way on one-way streets to make sure I could see everywhere I had been. I looked to the left and the right, everywhere.

No trailer.

How could this have happened?? Without my noticing it? It was so surreal.

I got back to the train platform, hoping to see it sitting there.

It wasn’t.

Ooofff…!

OK. Stay calm. Breathe.

Now what?

First, I called the TriMet lost & found number, and left a voicemail there with all the information. Their outbound message said that they would call back if, and only if, they did find the lost item.

OK.

I then reasoned that the train I had taken was close to the end of its line in the southern suburb of Milwaukie. I estimated that it should be less than a one-hour turnaround for it to get to the end, and come back through on its inbound run.

I figured I would wait for the next inbound train, and look for the trailer onboard.

After all, if it wasn’t on the platform, and wasn’t anywhere along my short route, I must have been mistaken about having rolled it off the train? Maybe in my haste, the hitch had given way (I knew this was possible, though it hadn’t happened often, and again, I couldn’t imagine it happening without my noticing) and I had somehow rolled off only the bike, leaving the trailer on the train…?

The next train arrived. I hurriedly scanned the front car.

Nope.

Argh.

But realistically, that train would have been too early. This almost certainly wasn’t the same one. Maybe the next one…

My time constraint was that I had an appointment at my OsteoStrong bone gym, in Clackamas, at 2:30. I had disembarked the train about 12:43. By now it was after 1:30, and I knew I wouldn’t make it to the gym on time.

I stayed as calm as I could, and called the gym to see if I could push back my appointment. Yes, they could push it back until 3:15.

Great! Maybe I could resolve this by then.

Then I noticed a TriMet maintenance employee, in a lime-green vest, on the edge of the platform. I walked up and asked if he had seen my trailer.

No, he hadn’t. But when I explained the situation, he suggested when the next inbound train arrived, I should flag down the operator, and ask if he had seen it.

Great! Thank you for the tip, sir.

He also told me that the TriMet lost & found office was just another stop or two south on the line, at the company’s headquarters, so if need be, if the trailer was found and turned in, I could go pick it up there.

Soon, the next train did arrive, and I flagged down the operator. He opened his window and talked to me as I stood on the platform. He said he wasn’t aware of any unaccompanied trailer on board, but he would pause a moment for me to check.

Thank you!

But no. No trailer on board. Then I asked if he had been the train to depart this platform southbound at 12:43. He checked his schedule said no, he was already in Milwaukie by then. So it should be the next train.

OK!

He pulled away, and I did my best to relax and have faith in the best-case scenario: I would find the trailer, full and unharmed. (As many of you know, this trailer contained all my clothes, except for what I was wearing; all my toiletries; my bike spare parts; my laptop; and important documents, including my passport. I could have worked myself up into a good freakout. I chose not to. I visualized that I would somehow find it, whole and unharmed.)

I posted about my situation on Facebook, and asked everyone to help me hold this vision. I was heartened and buoyed by dozens of friends, from around the globe, putting care-reacts and other supportive reactions on my post, and offering words of empathy and encouragement. It really helped to feel this outpouring of concern and support.

The next train arrived. I tried to flag down the operator, but instead of opening the window, he just looked at me and gave me the thumbs-up. Hmmm… kinda weird, but did this mean he saw me with my bike, guessed what I was asking, and was letting me know the trailer was indeed on board?? I chose to assume yes, and jumped into the first car. (Portland’s light-rail runs almost entirely above ground, so given the short block lengths of the city, all MAX trains are only two cars long. I can only imagine how much more overwhelming my task might have been in a city like Boston or New York or San Francisco, with six- or eight-car subway trains.)

But alas, no trailer.

At this point, I needed to board that train anyway to be able to make it to my OsteoStrong appointment. Maybe I would just have to concede that the trailer was lost… maybe it would be found later, and I could pick it up at the TriMet HQ.

I sat down, somewhat dejectedly.

But then I noticed another lime-vested TriMet employee across the aisle from me on the train. I asked if he had seen the trailer. He said no, but helped me to realize that it would be on the rear car of whatever train I had boarded. I remembered boarding the front car in north Portland, so it was only the front cars I had been checking. But he reminded me that the trains don’t turn around in Milwaukie, at the end of the line; they just reverse direction. So if the trailer was still on a train, it would be in the rear car!

Wow.

At the next stop, I jumped off the front car & looked at the rear… but that was not a low-floor car.

Weird! I knew I had initially boarded a low-floor car; it’s the only kind I can board with the rig.

I had been pretty certain that this was the right train. Apparently it wasn’t.

Could it be the next one…?

I knew if I waited for the next one, I couldn’t get to my OsteoStrong appointment in time. The time slots are only 15 minutes, and if you miss your slot, you probably miss the whole appointment. After all the hassle to get out there, I didn’t want to risk that.

But I also didn’t want to miss what might be my best chance to possibly recover the trailer.

I jumped off the train at Pioneer Square, and called OsteoStrong again: What was the last appointment of the day?

4:15.

OK, I’ll take it!

I texted Cindy to update her on the situation. She was flexible and supportive; whew!

I looked on the next yellow line train that approached. No, no trailer.

OK. I thought maybe my best bet would be to get back to TriMet’s lost & found. They hadn’t called me, but if they later did, it would be best for my timing if I were already there.

I now had time for this. OK.

So I jumped on the next #17 bus, and headed right back to where I had come from, this time going a bit farther, to the TriMet offices and lost & found.

I burst in—bike in hand, not folded, not locked outside—and blurted out to the man behind the desk my situation.

He said, “Are you looking for the lost & found?”

Doh!

“Sorry, yes!”

It was the next window over, around the corner.

It took me a minute to get that woman’s attention, but when she looked over, I blurted it all out to her.

She seemed mildly annoyed, and said they hadn’t seen it: “I just called dispatch eight minutes ago, to check on this, and no one had seen it.”

Oh.

I was disappointed by the news, but glad to hear they had at least received my voice mail and started working on it.

But… now what? Where was my trailer? I still chose to envision that I would get it back, intact… but how? And my mind couldn’t help starting to wonder about how catastrophic it would be if I really didn’t.

I trudged out of the TriMet building.

Right outside the doors, I heard my phone ringing.

The Caller ID showed my storage-unit company.

Weird. Why would they be calling me? I hoped this wasn’t some bad news about something happening to my belongings there; I knew they had periodic break-ins there.

When I answered, the woman said, “This is a really weird phone call, but did you lose, like… a bike cart?”

“Ohmygod, YESSS!”

Wow. Was this really happening? But how would the storage unit be involved? They were not particularly close to that train line.

Apparently, she said, a woman had found the trailer, and opened it up, noticing various valuable items and realizing how scary it must have been for me to have lost it. She wanted to get it back to me. She had looked in my checkbook register (Who still uses those? Me! And now I’m extra glad I do!) and saw that I had made a recent payment to the storage company. In an amazing coincidence, she herself had also rented a storage unit at that location in the recent past.

She realized the company wouldn’t give her my number, but she thought she could leave her number for them to forward to me.

So the employee texted me this Good Samaritan’s number, and I was ecstatically hopeful.

Her name was Michelle, and I immediately called her. She said that she and her boyfriend, Cody, had found it on the train platform. OK, so that solved one mystery: the trailer must have come unhitched as soon as I disembarked. She said that they had gone through my belongings—seeing my laptop, passport, checkbook, etc—and had taken it upon themselves to get the trailer to the address on my checkbook, near 50th & Division.

Wow. What a kindness! Of course I don’t live there anymore, but they had thought/hoped I did, and proactively took the trailer there.

This trailer is bulky and hard to move, even with the hitch attached. It weighs about 72 pounds (33 kg) with everything in it.

They didn’t have a car.

They must have rolled it at least five blocks to Division, and somehow carried it onto the FX2 bus, then carried it off at the bus stop at 51st.

Above and beyond.

“Ohmygod, thank you, thank you so much!”

I was overcome.

“Should I meet you there right now? I could be there in like 20 minutes on my bike.”

We agreed to do so.

She also mentioned that they had found my alternate address—my mailing address, about a mile away from there on Hawthorne—and, thinking that might be my residence, they had been planning to schlep the trailer onto the 14 bus to take it over there and try to find me.

The kindness, and time and effort, were so humbling. These guardian angels were looking out for me!

I hung up the phone and hopped on my bike, riding as fast as I could up to my old neighborhood. (But not before dashing back inside to jubilantly let the TriMet folks know it was found! They both celebrated with me, as I ran back out the door.) When I arrived, I found Michelle and Cody at the intersection of 50th & Division, eating burritos at an outside table.

I rushed up and thanked them profusely.

Michelle said, “You know, right there by that train platform is a homeless camp. Someone could have found it and taken everything.”

Wow. I hadn’t known that, although given the ubiquity of homeless encampments throughout the city, it was a good bet. And so many people right now—housed or not—are struggling, and might have seen my belongings as a potential bonanza for themselves.

She went on to explain that she and Cody themselves were homeless, and had been living in the Urban Alchemy tiny-house village near that MAX platform*.

Wow.

Wow.

New layers of meaning.

She said they had just been approved for an actual apartment, with a year lease, and were planning to move in the next day. She added that they are both about 30 days sober, and looking forward to starting their new life.

Wow.

I wanted to offer some money to them, as a show of gratitude and especially when I learned of their own circumstances. At the very least, I wanted to cover the food they had bought while they waited. But I had only about $7 in cash on me, and I knew that was not enough to even pay for the food. And my own finances are in a rather precarious state these days.

I did offer to Venmo her some money, though I also added, somewhat sheepishly, “If you saw my checkbook, you saw that I don’t have much right now either…”

She nodded, having indeed seen my bank balance, and said they would appreciate some funds, given their situation, though she also wished they were in a position to refuse any financial offering.

She had recently had a problem with Venmo, losing money to the app that she could not recover, so she no longer had it installed, nor PayPal. She did have CashApp.

Darn! I didn’t have CashApp. Maybe I could install it… regardless, I would find a way to get them at least a small amount of money.

I needed to rush off to get to my OsteoStrong appointment (which was prepaid, and not cheap, but which I pay for by selling plasma, since I want prioritize anything I can do to preserve my early-onset osteoporotic bones) but I thanked them again, and said I’d be in contact soon.

I rushed off to the gym, making it to the appointment three minutes late. It was OK; the folks there are cool, and they understood and accommodated me.

While on the train to the gym, I made a brief Facebook update with my almost-dead phone battery, letting everyone know I had indeed recovered the trailer intact, and briefly sharing the story of this amazing couple.

By the time I left the gym, I saw that many of my friends had taken it upon themselves to send me money, via Venmo or PayPal, to pass along to the couple.

By the next morning, thanks to the generosity of my friends all around the country, the “housewarming gift” had reached $300. I wrote a note of gratitude to go along with it—on a card that my host Cindy contributed—including the impact that Michelle’s and Cody’s act of kindness had had on so many of my Facebook friends who had read about it.**

I was so overwhelmed by every aspect of this situation.

I’m about to go out now to meet them and give them the card and cash. I will also retrieve my water bottle; Michelle had texted to say she noticed after the fact that it had fallen out before they brought the trailer to me.

I’m not religious, but this all feels kind of like a Christmas miracle.

I’ll resist the urge to wrap this up with any sort of platitudes or “lessons”; I trust they are all apparent, and that everyone who reads this will take your own gleanings from the story.

I will just say, I am filled to the brim with gratitude.

*Michelle’s words about Urban Alchemy, from a later text: “They are the ones who changed our lives. They are also currently in the process of trying to raise more money to change more lives. They are a full circle nonprofit, who employs felons and other hard to employ minorities at a living wage. To monitor, and serve the houseless community. These people are literally saving lives every day. I can’t tell you how many houseless people I met that had previously refused other ‘shelter or housing options’ because they were horrible. At Urban Alchemy we had heat, air conditioning, shelter, laundry facility, showers, as well as snacks and coffee provided daily. We felt like they truly cared from day one.”

**Michelle’s words on the card and cash, from a later text: “Regarding the gift you collected for us. Cody and I have both prided ourselves on remaining good people. Not falling into the dirtbag culture others seem to turn to when desperate for money and/or drugs. So more than the gift, those words of encouragement meant the world to us. It felt like through you hundreds of people could see who we are finally without having to look past the addict or homeless lenses we have been viewed from for so long.”

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Santa Clara, California

11/27/23

After my recent Vancouver Island sojourn, I’m back in California… at least for another week, until I head back to Portland for some medical stuff and cat sits for the month of December. I’m soaking up the sunshine here while I can!

Two weeks ago, I boarded a small propeller plane out of Comox to Vancouver, then transferred to a jet back to San Francisco, followed by a couple of hours on the Caltrain before I arrived at my new sit. The cloudy and overcast views out the airplane window in Canada were kind of cool.

At the end of that long travel day—during which I arrived to a heavy rainfall in California—I finally landed at this lovely house with a Spanish-style backyard, complete with lime and avocado trees, across from a Carmelite monastery.

The two cats, Angel (white) and Buttercup (calico) were both strays rescued by this couple years ago; they suspect that people sometimes abandon stray cats at the monastery.

After the adorable-but-high-strung cats in San Jose, these two have been refreshingly low-key. Buttercup stays outside, and Angel mostly does too, just coming in at night for several rounds of treats followed by a snuggly overnight sleep on the bed with me.

The temperatures have been slightly lower than my preference—mostly highs in the low to mid 60s—but definitely warmer and sunnier overall than Comox or Portland. I have enjoyed the sun as much as possible, even pulling a porch chair out into the driveway today to catch the last few rays.

Last week, I went over and walked the monastery grounds. It’s a lovely and peaceful spot, with a large olive grove directly across from the house.

I also found time to return to the San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden, on a particularly warm and sunny day. I love that spot.

I spent Thanksgiving with my gracious former Warmshowers hosts Vikki and Mark, in nearby Campbell. Vikki made a few special vegan dishes for me, which I really appreciated. I will also be staying with them for the next three nights, after I leave here tomorrow, and then with a really interesting Servas host in nearby Mountain View.

On my way back from Campbell that day, I stopped once again at the beautiful rose gardens and Rosicrucian peace garden. There are so many wonderful public spaces here in the San Jose area.

Oh, and an amazing small-world coincidence: the couple I am sitting for right now have been visiting the husband’s sister in the tiny town of Lovettsville, Virginia… which happens to be the neighboring town to the tiny village of Waterford, Virginia where I grew up! They will be returning next summer; perhaps they can meet up with my parents then for a walking tour of historic Waterford.

I’ll leave you here with a few more kitty pics.

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A bittersweet journey to Vancouver Island

11/21/23

Hello from Santa Clara, California. I returned here, to the San Jose area, about a week ago, but I’ll make a separate post about my time here. Right now, I’m behind on reporting my travels to Comox, British Columbia, on Canada’s Vancouver Island.

As some of you know, my maternal grandfather was Canadian. His parents had immigrated to Canada from England in the late 1800s. His father—my great-grandfather—was an architect who built a house in 1912, when my grandfather was 7, in an idyllic Vancouver Island hamlet called Comox. The house was situated on about seven forested acres, with the open front yard ending in a bluff overlooking the ocean (and nearby Denman and Hornby Islands).

My grandparents retired to this home in the 1960s, after my grandfather had spent his career in the United States, where he had met my grandmother and raised my mother and her two siblings.

I was born in 1972, and during my childhood and teen years, our family would make the trek from Virginia, every few summers, to visit the grandparents in this wonderful place. My grandfather was a forester, and in addition to the wonderful vegetable garden and berry vines they cultivated, he also planted fruit and nut trees, including an apple tree with at least eight varieties of apples grafted onto it.

My grandparents passed away in the mid-late 1990s, but we have been able to keep the house in the family, sharing it among various relatives, since then. As an adult, I have visited a number of times, although living in Portland without a car made it difficult to travel there. (Even from Seattle, it was a full day’s journey, including a drive to the Canadian border, a wait at the border, a wait at the ferry, a two-hour ferry crossing, and then a nearly two-hour drive from the ferry to the house. Flying was possible, but expensive and similarly time-consuming, since of course there is no direct flight.)

Sadly, our family has finally come to a time when we will soon need to sell the house. Life marches on, and things change. I accept this, but saying goodbye to a place I have known all my life is sad.

So, I made a (probably) last trip up there a couple of weeks ago, which happened to allow me to celebrate my birthday in this special place and spend time with my parents, who have traveled all the way from Virginia to spend a couple of months there.

It was a very special trip, and I’m so glad I went.

I flew up on November 6th. I would have preferred to avoid flying, as usual, but the logistics, time, and expense of doing so from San Jose were unfortunately prohibitive.

I spent my first night on the island in a hotel, since my flight arrived late, and then, since my parents had not arrived yet, I chose to spend the next two nights with a Servas host, to give myself a non-family perspective on this place I had only visited with family over the years.

I’m so glad I did! Jane, my host, was in her mid-70s, and had grown up in a Servas family. Her parents had hosted dozens of people from around the world; she actually showed me two thick binders of letters and photos from these folks, mostly from the mid-1980s. How cool!

Her cottage was magical, situated directly on the beach(!) and with a special outdoor guest bedroom, set up to be very cozy and inviting.

The day I met her was the last warm(ish) and sunny day of what is a very dark and rainy season in that area, and the rain and windstorms had not yet taken down the autumn leaves from the trees.

We went to my family house to see it in this golden state, and I’m so glad we did. A few photogenic deer made their customary appearance, and we even picked apples from one of my grandfather’s trees, from which we later made applesauce.

Then she drove me around the area, and we took a hike at a beautiful nature park called Nymph Falls.

The next day—my birthday, the 8th—we took a walk along the beach, and then back through her neighborhood, passing a glorious red Japanese maple.

That evening, my wonderful vegan Facebook friends Fireweed and Mike, who live on Denman Island, took the ferry over with their electric car, and took me out to a sumptuous birthday dinner (for Fireweed, too—her birthday is the day before mine, and her late father’s birthday was the same as mine) at a nearby Greek restaurant that boasts a separate vegan menu. The meal was wonderful, with an assortment of flavorful appetizers, entrees, cocktails, and even dessert, and I had leftovers for another meal the next day.

The following day, my parents came to Jane’s place to pick me up and take me to the family home.

Sure enough, we got plenty of dark, rain, and wind over the next six nights—enough to knock out the power (and thus well water supply, too) for five hours one night.

But it was wonderful to reconnect with my parents in person; the last time we had seen each other was over Mothers’ Day, a year and a half ago, during my cross-country travels. My mom even veganized my grandmother’s bread recipe for me, which was a great treat that reminded me of childhood summers in that home.

I did do a small amount of outdoor exploration while there, including a short woodland hike that showed me the largest, coolest fly amanita mushroom I’ve ever seen!

I also took the ferry over one day to Denman Island, to meet up again with Fireweed and Mike. They fed me a homemade vegan lasagna lunch, complete with peach tarts made from their own tree’s peaches! (I was shocked to learn that peaches could grow in such a wooded and rainy environment, since they are difficult to grow in Portland.) They have a beautiful art studio for Fireweed’s photography work, which doubles as a guest cottage. The inside and out were beautiful.

They also took me on a hike that afternoon, in Fillongley Park, which included wonderfully tall trees and also stunningly blue sea views.

When they dropped me back at the house, there was just barely enough daylight left for Fireweed to capture a few photos of my parents and me on the bluff and in front of the house. I’m glad we have that documentation, as well as one of the most beautiful sunsets I can ever recall seeing there.

I’m really glad to have made that trip.

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Chapter 5 begins

11/1/23

Wow. It’s been more than a month since I’ve written, and everything is so different.

Horrific violence in Israel and Palestine. What is happening there is beyond tragic, and feels so overwhelming, on so many levels. I have contacted my Congressional representative and Senators about a ceasefire. I don’t know how things will unfold, but I continue to envision a world in which every human being is safe, fed, housed, and living with dignity and human respect.

In my own world, things have changed quite a bit as well, mostly for the good. I’m in San Jose, California now, having traveled by train from Portland overnight from October 12th to the 13th. I had some wonderful spontaneous magical meetings on the train, which is always my hope. The weather is warm and sunny here, exactly what I want! And I am continually dreaming into a bright future, including my dream of traveling Europe by train and bicycle next summer.

My birthday is approaching (a week from today, the 8th) and I’m looking forward to a family trip at that time to Vancouver Island, Canada, where my great-grandfather built a house in 1912 which has been in the family ever since. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my parents, and with the house, land, and ocean there.

I’m also realizing that with my recent move to California for the season, I am entering what I am coming to view as the fifth chapter in the transformation of my life.

The first chapter began on January 7th, 2020, when my world started (seemingly) falling apart. During my then-annual sunshine-seeking short trip to San Diego, my condo in Portland flooded when a radiator pipe burst in the living room. I was forced to relocate for three months while the condo was restored from all the damage. During that relocated time, the pandemic fully arrived on American shores, and I feared for both my life and my then-livelihood (at a retail party store) and began reflecting deeply on what was most important to me. Shortly after I moved back into my condo, my then-partner of seven years suddenly left me to pursue another relationship.

Yikes. Talk about all possible rugs being pulled out from under me.

Chapter 2 began in early August of that year, when after all those blows, I came to the realization that I wanted to make a dramatic change. I dreamed up a yearlong multimodal journey around the United States and Canada. I spent 13 months planning and preparing for the journey, and that year was one of the best of my life up until then—especially wonderful as a contrast to the previous seven months.

Chapter 3 was the journey itself, and as those of you who followed along with me here well know, it was also an incredible time of joy, exploration, and expansion for me.

Chapter 4 was when I returned to Portland for what I thought would be only a few weeks, but then got “stuck” there for another year when I had a variety of medical and dental issues to attend to, including a fractured foot that happened shortly after my return. I was disheartened, but spent the year beginning a brand-new lifestyle of cat sitting. I found that it was a perfect segue after a year of large-scale travel, staying in people’s homes with them for a few days, to switch to small-scale travel mostly around the Portland area, getting to know cats better and having longer stretches and more privacy and solitude at each home. I even managed to do some traveling to places around Oregon, including Eugene, Bend, Silverton, Corvallis, and McMinnville, and even a January jaunt to Los Angeles and Pomona.

Chapter 5 began a few weeks ago, when I boarded that train to combine my cat sitting lifestyle with my wider-ranging, warm-weather-following travel lifestyle.

San Jose has been lovely. These two Russian Blue cats, Sergei and Vladimir, have kept me on my toes, but have made up for the challenges by being so adorable and snuggly.

The apartment is centrally located, and I have made great use of that by visiting the rose garden, the incredible Rosicrucian peace garden, the San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden, the San Jose Art Museum (with last year’s Warmshowers host Vikki!) and the lovely downtown plazas.

I got an overdue bike tuneup at the local Brompton-certified shop. I’ve been attending the local OsteoStrong gym.

The other day, I even took an excursion by BART train to the charming outer suburb of Livermore, to catch up with my wonderful friend Mimi, who had hosted me two years ago during my time in Berkeley.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Meanwhile, I’ve continued doing magical meetings with people around the world, per my ongoing vision of strengthening the rainbow network.

And, I’m moving ahead on seeking donations and godfunding to continue my work and travels around the world. (If all goes well, I will work my way slowly east across the southern US this winter, visit my parents in Virginia in May, then fly to England to begin a five-to-six-month adventure in the UK, Ireland, and Europe from Scandinavia to Spain and Portugal—all by bicycle and trains, of course!)

I completed one component of this fundraising goal yesterday: I made a page on my blog with testimonials from many people who have experienced my Happy to Listen, Dream Into Change, and/or Magical Meeting sessions over the years. (Follow the link and scroll down to see the testimonials.) I am very proud of my work, and it brings me deep joy to read the wonderful writings that so many people took the time to share about how my holding space with and/or for them has made a difference in their lives. This is how I can do my part to strengthen that rainbow network, one hour and one person at a time.

My current fundraising goal is $60,000. With this money, I could pay off my mortgage, top up my “emergency fund” (which has unfortunately dwindled this past year as some unexpected expenses have arisen) and have enough left to continue my (very economical) travels. I visualize that this $60,000 is flowing to me easefully and joyfully, from people who become acquainted with my work and my vision as I continue it.

I want to thank you, my readers, so deeply for all the moral and financial support you have offered me these past few years! I probably haven’t expressed enough how much your support means to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

*If* you happen to feel moved to contribute any additional amount in honor of my taking the leap of faith to begin “Chapter 5,” and/or my upcoming birthday, I would of course gratefully receive it. If you don’t feel moved or able to do so, I absolutely celebrate that as well, trusting that the money will flow from where it will.

And regardless, as always, if you would like a free magical meeting, by phone or video chat, please let me know that as well! I would love to support you in your life and dreams.

I hope you are all doing well, enjoying life and the season!

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!)

A bicycle adventure, season-turning trees… and more kitties

9/23/23

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote. I’m feeling much better, thanks to many supportive friends and a change of scenery.

And… it’s a new season now! Fall is always bittersweet for me; the leaves are beautiful, but I mourn the loss of the warmth and light. Hence my plan to head south, in just a few weeks; I’m looking forward to California!

As I do my best to wrap up my time here in Portland—where I’ve been back for a year, as of September 17th—I’m feeling mostly good, but some of my medical appointments may require me to come back briefly in November or December. I’m not looking forward to the cost, weather, nor logistics of this, but it is what it is, and I’m choosing to move forward and enjoy California as much as I can, starting on October 12th.

Meanwhile, around here I was generously gifted a ride back from Bend (thanks again, Raven!) and then a ride across the Columbia River into Vancouver, Washington (thanks, Lindsay, if you’re reading!) to care for an adorable little orange munchkin named Clementine.

Clementine lives near some lovely parks, and I went out several times to enjoy the late-summer sunshine and beautiful trees.

My ride back to Portland, though, fell through. I had assumed that bicycling back would be more challenging than I wanted—even at only 11 miles—with my rig. I had biked the I-205 bridge once before, years ago (on my old bike, no rig) and remembered the uphill and headwind on the bike lane (in the middle of the freeway) though to be fair those were mostly on the northbound journey. But this day was to be 90 degrees (32 C) and I had just given plasma that morning, including a one-hour round trip bike trek to and from the plasma place.

I can’t take my rig on a bus, though. And when I thought of ordering a Lyft, I worried that drivers might be loath to allow me to put all my (sometimes grungy) traveling components into their car.

So, I figured, why not just do it? Yes, plasma, yes, 90 degrees, yes, some hills… but it’s 11 miles! Don’t be ridiculous! You can do this.

And… I could, and I did. I admit I felt a bit wilty and tired in the heat at times, but there was some lovely scenery, and I took a few rests.

And at the end of the day, I arrived in SE Portland to my new cuddly and vocal charge, Lavender!

I spent several days enjoying his snuggly energy, and then it was time to move on to a more regal kitty, in SW Portland, named Quinny. She gives the most deluxe kitty boops I have ever experienced; I have dubbed them “Quinny boops.”

Arriving here to Quinny’s abode did involve a hill challenge: right at the last leg of the journey, there is an 80-foot climb in a one-block stretch. I cannot bike that angle, with or without a rig! So I hoofed it, remembering similar “hikes” from my year’s travels, including one in San Francisco and a gravel one between San Jose and Santa Cruz.

I’ve got one more night here with Quinny, and then tomorrow I’ll be staying with a bicycle friend in NE Portland for a few nights.

Happy fall to those of you up north here with me, and happy spring to those in the southern hemisphere!

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!)