In Conclusion: 2015

...a year that unequivocally changed my life. The day after my last post, almost to the hour, my dad was hit and killed half way through his second cross country bike ride that was in celebration of his 75th birthday. 

I could barely breathe, let alone push a button those first few weeks. In the minutes, hours, weeks, and six months since, I have had to rebuild my identity, piece by excruciating piece. My dad was a devoted father, adoring grandfather to my two kids, my wing man and all around super hero. Losing him turned my heart inside out and left me feeling completely untethered.

My dad was carrying this photo in his journal, and it has given me some small measure of solace in knowing he had this with him, as well as a very tangible way to carry him forward with me. As it has always been with me and photography, *the most enduring and precious gifts I have ever received are images of people I love. This was his gift to me.

And while this shocking new reality and resulting war with grief raged on, there were still bills to be paid and kids to be fed. So I picked up my camera again. It's what I know and it's what brings me great peace. And as such, has played a significant role in helping me put one foot in front of the other, both during the course of finding some degree of normal, any normal, in my life again, as well as a way to document for myself this path and pain that I thought for sure would destroy me. 

I tell you this in order to explain the last six months of silence on my blog. And to let you know that though this process has rearranged every fiber of my being and left an enduring mark...the grief hasn't won. 

As this year closes and a new one begins, I need to express complete and humble gratitude to my clients who, over the last six months, have all knowingly or unknowingly, contributed to helping me find once again grace, humor, and connection to this life. I feel more than ever and with my whole being, that I am doing what I was put on this earth to do. And look forward more than I ever imagined possible all to come.

La Bella Vita

I recently had the incredible fortune of traveling to Italy with both my mom and my daughter...I had been a few times before, but this particular experience was a bit of fairy dust and magical medicine all rolled into one, for each of us in our own way. 

We stayed with family who have lived in Florence for the last 50+ years and and who now live la bella vita in true Italian fashion.  Our days were bookended by the most simply sweet and leisurely time eating amazing home cooked meals, imbibing of the local grapes, sharing stories and otherwise just being present in each other's company...a luxury that almost makes my heart ache (she said as she ate a lunch of almonds and coffee over her keyboard at 4 p.m.).

In between those generous slices of heaven, we navigated the beautiful and historic city with what seemed like a billion of our fellow tourists.  Apparently, they didn't get the memo it was off-season, so despite the fact we were also contributing to the masses, it was hard not to feel a bit overwhelmed and selfishly long for a city that more closely resembled the one of my imagination.  Portovenere and Cinque Terre were no different (damn you Rick Steves), though the (top secret) house we stayed in on the coast provided it's own brand of stunning beauty and respite.  

I have such immense gratitude for the abundant generosity of our people in Florence who so lovingly took us in and for having had the opportunity to share this sabbatical of sorts across three generations of family.   And hope that in sharing these images, they can provide some small measure of the profound mental escape hatch they have given to me.

Hotel Eastlund Grand Opening

Two years ago, my pop and his brothers stayed here during a visit to Portland back when it was still a Red Lion Inn.  AC was an option and I'm 99.9% sure there was no big-city like rooftop restaurant.  So it's metamorphosis since then into Hotel Eastlund left me a bit speechless.  But with Portland's own Holst Architecture behind the project (the firm behind former Days Inn-turned-Hotel Modera and Ziba HQ), it should have come as no surprise.  Topped by Altabira City Tavern, the restaurant and rooftop deck offer spectacular city views that give Departure's a run for it's cash money. 

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Tour De Oregon

Or at least 750 miles of it.  It was like a kinder, gentler Thelma + Louise, minus the Thunderbird and dramatic car chase scenes (plus one of the two of us is seven).  But we had four wheels, one dog, no reservations and miles of open road.   And lots and lots of Macy Gray.

And four seasons in four days.   Welcome to spring break Oregon style.

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Classic Wines Auction: Spring Winemakers Dinner

What do local celebrity chefs of Aviary, Ned Ludd, Davenport, Noble Rot, Bent Brick AND Oregon's finer winemakers Brooks, Walter Scott, JK Carriere, Roco, Cameron and Crowley all have in common?   Oh, just a cool $3.2 million they, along with several others, helped to raise on behalf of Classic Wines Auction Spring Winemaker Dinners that goes towards five local (and very lucky) organizations supporting kids and families. 

I, on the other hand, was the very lucky recipient of generous samplings from the aforementioned chefs and winemakers.

1859 Oregon Magazine: Mike Heist

Otherwise known as "The King Of Neon", Mike Heist is a master of the old school art of all things neon.  Part science, part hot air and part voodoo magic, it's a fascinating process to behold and photograph.  And Mike has just as much character as the work he creates. 

You can read about Mike and his work in the January issue of 1859 Oregon Magazine.

Meals On Wheels People: Central Kitchen

Around this time for the last several years, Meals On Wheels People have asked me to help tell their story, and I gladly accept.   I recently started volunteering with my son to help prep and deliver meals twice a month, so I feel I can speak personally to the impact that I see when we knock on a door.  They help meet an incredible need in the community by serving roughly 5,000 meals each day to both homebound seniors as well as through various senior and community centers around the city and suburbs of Portland.  

This year, they asked me to profile more specifically the food itself, with an emphasis on the amazing abundance of fresh food they work to incorporate into each meal.   My first visit was to their Central Kitchen where they prepare the meals that are delivered to homebound seniors via a small army of volunteer drivers (according to their website, they depend on 500 volunteers a, wow).   In addition to all the fruits and vegetables, they even have a pastry chef to ensure fresh baked goods are a part of the mix. 

Food aside, I have developed an incredible fondness for the kitchen staff themselves, some of whom have dedicated the better part of the last 20 years to this mission.

24 Hours of Tolovana With Mr. T

What's a girl to do when the forecast calls for summer temps?  At the beach?  In February?!  24 hours of Tolovana Beach served up pure bliss and then some. 

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