Friday, December 23, 2011


There exist days where the schedule is lickety-split sewn-up, everything happens according to its location on the list. And then there are days like yesterday, when my car wouldn't start, then almost started, then went dead dead dead. Called AAA, called the mechanic, and then the car started with all kinds of Warning! Lights! Lit! Egads.

I managed to get it to the shop, then headed back home afoot, 28 degrees and a hint of sun easing through fog. Plugged in my earbuds, cranked up Handel's Messiah and set out on a route I've only ever driven, down the long decline from the top of Beacon Hill, across the light rail tracks, back up another hill, through a neighborhood that some would think of an unsavory but I look at for the diversity. My zip code is the most ethnically diverse in the nation, and I passed elderly Asian men on their morning constitutionals, African-American teenage boys in their oversized coats and butt-saggy pants, Muslim women with little skin unswathed. A storefront church with JESUS SAVES painted on the plate glass. My Vietnamese dentist with his red neon tooth in the window. Lots of empty storefronts: "For Lease". A corner store with a large HALAL MEAT sign painted on plywood.

As I neared the small business district of Columbia City, everything suddenly became tidy, swept, minus the peeling paint and tired disuse visible just two blocks prior. Gentrification seems to have strict boundaries sometimes, edging out from a few core businesses. Signage goes from hand-painted to factory produced. There's a not-so-interesting Starbucks, and an even less-interesting Subway, and about ten independent restaurants, all relatively new. A co-op gallery, a used bookstore, a florist, a butcher. People were out, but not in any great number.

It was the first day of winter, and despite the below-freezing temps, with Handel piping into my ears I was content in my wandering back home. And flowers -- what a surprise! I counted eight
different varieties in bloom in front yards or parking strips -- nothing I'd ever notice while driving:

It continued, one surprise agenda following another, about which I will not bore you, except that while waiting for a prescription at Costco (where I had to park [in my son's car] in The Outback: Costco was very tiny in the distance), a woman sat down beside me and commenced to talk about back fat. WTF?!

The car was repaired for less than a thousand dollars, which is a Big Deal.

I was treated to a martini and a bowl of French onion soup at Cafe´Presse. Heavenly comfort.

I participated in a lengthy debate about the women's movement, which in the end, turned into a semantic argument more than anything. Words!

And Christmas! I nearly forgot about it.


  1. Power steering died in the driveway today. God bless having a local mechanic who likes his job. Out of there under $400...feel blessed.
    Christmas is all sewn up...not because I'm ready, but just because I'm done.
    Don't have anymore prep in it's time to just let it happen.
    Happy Christmas T. God bless us everyone.

  2. there is nothing like walking your neighborhood to see things that usually pass you by.

    I like Sacramento for its diversity -- the world in microcosm. So I can appreciate your delight in walking through your zip code.

    I think long walks right now are the perfect balm for Christmas excess -- I'm doing right along with you!

  3. Elizabeth, the other Elizabeth, the one who spells her name with a 'z' in contrast to mine with an 's', sent me here.

    Great post, great writing. Days and times like this are wonderful to read abut however painful for the narrator. It's good to meet you T, all the way from sunny Australia.

  4. A city walk is always good for the soul & the imagination in my opinion. This is a truly excellent blog post as others have said.

  5. Cycling used to do it for me too; one suddenly sees a different town. Which reminds me; one of these days I really must explore my tiny village. I've lived here for 40 years, and there are still roads to be discovered.

  6. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a thousand times again: I do love how you write, friend.

  7. i love the message, of slowing down, seeing what's around you.
    happy christmas to you, my friend.