About Jessica

Jessica lives and works in Portland, OR in an awesome turn-of-the-century apartment with her partner Andy and her cat named Sam. She sews, embroiders, reads books of all genres except maybe crime mysteries and washes her utensils only in matching pairs. She is dedicated to writing about occurrences of the day, reading, crafts and great things spotted on the interwebs. Jessica has worked as a journalist specializing in environmental issues of the Northwest. She currently works at Portland State University and can be spotted walking to and from work.

Spring Sneak Peak

Portland felt like spring this weekend. We opened the windows in our apartment and drank the breeze in. We rode bikes, made applesauce and spent time with family. It was brilliant.

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The Painful Process of Self-Actualization

Over the last two years since Andy and I moved back from Spain, we’ve been sorting out our lives. As a couple, we’ve grown closer than ever. We know how to live together comfortably, we can navigate the tough stuff together and we love talking about goals. We aren’t terribly future oriented but graduate school is a place of transition so we’ve had some conversations about when Andy graduates and finally starts teaching (!). I think grad school has played a big gigantic part in Andy’s ability to work toward a larger goal. When faced with the decision to go back to school, he carefully thought out the reasons and created his plan. The fact that I get a killer discount on tuition was a big part of our grad school survival plan. My plan to keep on working has kept up.

So now it’s my turn. I am seeking more and it’s difficult to evaluate what shape I want my life to take in terms of career. I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to work with diverse people but working in an office can only go so far. I’m still the person responsible for the copier. At night, I go home to sew and craft. That is in part because Oregon winters are dark things that keep me inside. Do I want to try and make my hobby into a career? At this point, the answer is “nah”. I’m too selfish with my art. PSU’s program in Sustainability Education looks intriguing. I’m attending an info session in January. Report to follow.

Surfing the Interwebs

My main method to surfing through the great and overwhelming interwebs has been previously discussed as google reader. I can’t get enough of that blog aggregator. It is my organized method of tackling information chaos during my breaks throughout the day. This morning I took the time to organize my reader and discovered some interesting things about myself. My main areas of interest are as follows: Design, DIY, Food, News, Gardening, Sewing, Humor, Art/Insight. I have spent the last couple months reflecting on my future and the career path I’m interesting in pursuing beyond my current position. Based on my blog interests, I can picture some highly entertaining positions in my future: DIY Humorist Editor (regretsy anyone?), Designer of garden quilts, Artist specializing in food. We’ll see where I end up. For now, I have a lovely new layout to read my blogs.

Priced out of Goodwill

Ugh. I just walked in and right back out of Goodwill due to insanely high prices. One pair of used shoes I liked was $29.99, the next $49.99. I almost gagged. When did this happen? I can no longer afford Goodwill. The drug addled woman shopping next to me looked me in the eye as I was grumbling about the pricing and said, “You want those shoes? I’ll buy you those shoes.” I excused myself walking backwards and trotted out the door.

While Andy and I were in Spain, we were amazed that thrift stores did not exist. People would leave their old belongings next to the trash bins and others would pilfer through them. It was fun, but wasteful. While I was there, I proudly thought back on all the different thrift stores the U.S. has to offer. Now I’m not so sure. I love to thrift, but I think Goodwill needs to seriously reconsider their pricing model. They get most of their goods for free. I know there is overhead, but give me a break!

Living with Chronic Illness

There’s nothing romantic with chronic illness. Andy has suffered from U.C. for the past five years that is only complicated by his hemophilia. He is strong to the point of mild self-destruction because of the way he doesn’t let his illness derail his plans. It’s one of the reasons I love him.But it can be hard to explain why he is feeling under the weather to those who haven’t gotten the background. Oftentimes, he will respond to inquiries about his fluctuating weight or tiredness with a “I was sick,” instead of the fact that “I am sick.”

Even with the challenges, we were able to move to Spain for a year and teach English. He played Lacrosse in high school despite the risks of being a hemophiliac. His ankles are now akin to that of a 70 year old because of years of joint bleeding and cartilage damage. So he gets around on a bike. Luckily he was in the first generation of hemophiliacs that was not exposed to HIV through his medicinal transfusions. Older hemophiliacs are dying. Luckily he gets health insurance through me because otherwise, the medicine would cost $1,500 every other day. You read that correctly. U.C. is different from hemophilia because there is no known explanation for the disease and the only cure is total removal of the colon (ugh.) Hemophilia was something to handle, manage and move on from. U.C. is a constant battle.

Over the past year, we’ve both been concentrating on the U.C. and getting him better; acupuncture, supplements, stress management, diet etc. He has good days and bad days although during a flare-up, it’s impossible to have a good day. He is a trooper and is currently working part-time, student teaching and going to grad school. He is also my extroverted partner who pulls me away from my books on the weekends and over to friends’ houses and on adventures.

Although I’m not planning a wedding, I stumbled into this post today on A Practical Wedding and immediately sent it over to Andy because of how deeply it spoke to me. For those of you who suffer from a chronic illness or have a friend/partner/family member who does, I think you will enjoy the honesty that comes from these words: http://apracticalwedding.com/2011/10/undergraduate-wedding-planning-with-a-chronic-illness/

Why Fall is My Season

Fall is golden and crisp. The weather shifts from chilly to sublimely warm and back to cold. The nights are cool. The mornings are foggy. The city is still clean before winter’s soggy blanket covers the streets. People’s cheeks are pink and their eyes smile with the remembrance of summer on their backs. Scarves and gloves come out of the stashed storage spots. I am comfortable inside on the couch looking out and I love being outside looking in. The splash of colors everyone talks about is a slow evolution that I watch on my walk to work. Spiders spin their webs across anything that is static for more than a few minutes. Fall is my season.

Community Garden

A Community Garden is

Watering Weeding Work Dirt Weeds Jealousy Tartness Raspberries Strawberries A Release Heartbreak Excitement Sore Knees Harvest Seeds Gentleness Ruthlessness A Burden An Oasis Digging Potatoes Slug Trails Quiet Dreamy Friends Responsibility Carrot Tops Victory

It was my first year of gardening and I was often disappointed in myself despite my best efforts. Gardening is hard work. Our garden was an inconvenient drive away, especially for someone who has grown accustomed to walking to work, walking to the grocery store and walking everywhere else. Watering was a challenge. Keeping the weeds at bay was a battle. Understanding when to put seeds in the ground was a guess at best. The weather was rarely cooperative. But once I was at the garden, I loved being surrounded by old growth trees in my 20×20 plot. It was a lovely escape from the city. It was always new. I wish I had gone more often but I look back on the experience and I’m happy with the results. We harvested squash, leeks, potatoes, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, arugula, lettuce and kale. A few things we planted never made an appearance. A few other things went crazy. Our final harvest looked a little something like this and was turned into vegetable broth and potato leek soup:

I might be starting a lifelong love affair with gardening despite how much of a b*tch it can be.

Sense of Loss

At the end of September, Andy’s parent’s home burned. Everyone made it out safe except for the fish. The fire started outside and spread under the eves so the firefighters had to punch through the (2 month old) roof in order to put out the flames. The interior was destroyed by fire, smoke and water. I took photos when Andy and I first visited to help with the itemization for the insurance company. They aren’t easy for me to look at.

I’ve been paralyzed to write about the fire without knowing that Andy’s parent’s and sister had a place to live and something to work toward. Now they are somewhat settled into a rental home and waiting to hear from the insurance company on the settlement.

It was 4am when we got a text saying the house burned and everyone was safe. Andy and I held each other and worried. The next morning was a blur of emotion and short, sad phone conversations. The Holmes family centralized and we all did what we could to help. The Hood River community also stepped up and provided free lodging in a hotel until Lynne, Steve and Joanna could move into the rental.

While I was in the house, I discovered that a fire is a nasty toxic thing. The mess left behind in the house was trapped under layers of scorched insulation and it was so putrid that gloves and a mask were necessary. Very little of a lifetime of belongings was saved. There was a moment when Steve looked at a particularly meaningful and destroyed collection of miniature record artwork when I thought we might all lose it.

As Steve said while talking to Andy, losing a house is like losing a family member. Grief and disbelief are a part of the process of moving along. We’re all hoping the insurance company has good news for the Holmes family. Good thoughts are welcome by all.

Gearing up for Fall and Winter

This morning I woke up to fall. Our bedroom window is cracked and a crisp breeze is blowing in; a 180 degree switch from yesterday’s heat. A few leaves have even blown through the window onto the coverlet. Today I’ll be gearing up for an Oregon fall/winter by brainstorming new craft ideas and heading over to the Polish Festival/Alberta St for some food, dancing (polka anyone?) and merriment. Then onto a friend’s house for boardgames and pizza. Fall is my most favorite season because of the cool breezes, the leaf color explosions and the onset of crafting. I find that a wet Oregon fall and winter are best conquered with homemade soups, sewing, embroidering, felting and reading. My recent crafts include:

Inspiration: Felt Flowers, Twine Light Covers, Bunting, Necklace Display