Friday, August 16, 2013

My Journey to Oregon: Day Three

I wake up early and take a walk around the neighborhood.  On foot, you can notice trees and bushes and flowers n that you'd otherwise miss while in the car..  Unlike the suburb where I live, where grass is mowed before it gets long and bushes are manicured and flowers are planted in pots that match the color of the house, here in Waylon's neighborhood the people let their yards grow rather wild and unkempt.  A mist hangs in the air.  It's unlike mist I'm familiar with in the Midwest.  It's subtle and small, barely noticeable, and yet, over the course of the walk and by the time I get home, I'm slightly damp, a wetness I can brush off with my hands. 

Waylon's brewed coffee.  We read sections of the New York Times and then have brunch at a vegan friendly restaurant called Paradox.  The server asks me what type of protein I would like in my breakfast scramble.  It's a question you don't get asked in Minneapolis.  My choices are tofu, seitan, tempeh, and eggs.  I choose the tempeh, which when it arrives has a crisp outer crust and a compact inner core.  It's difficult to compare its texture or taste to anything else, but it quite delicious and perfectly complements the organic vegetables and diced and spiced potatoes. 

Our destination for the day is the Portland Art Museum.  I like looking at and learning about art and consider myself knowledgeable of art history in general and Impressionism in particular.  Waylon hasn't been to the museum despite living here, which is often the case with many people for many of the highlights in their city, so he was looking forward to the experience. 

The museum had a special exhibit of bikes, which given Portland's biker status, Waylon and I browsed.  It featured about a hundred bikes, from the  first  bikes to the newest bikes to bikes welded together for odd design and yet ride able purposes.  The curator of this exhibit displayed all of the bikes as if they were art pieces and because all of them were new and clean and had something interesting about them they could be viewed as art.

Inside the museum we follow the floor plans which are laid out historically, starting with Grecian vases and jumping to the Middle Ages.  I tell Waylon that I'm more of a quick browser when it comes to Middle Ages and early Renaissance art because most of it is images of Christianity through the eyes of Catholicism.  “Too much Jesus,” I say.  Waylon agrees with me.  At one point, I see Waylon looking at a portrait of a woman wearing a shawl that for some reason doesn't cover her left breast.  “I like this one,” Waylon says.  “You just like it because her breast is showing,” I joke.  To which Waylon says, “Less Jesus, more breasts.”  We laughed so hard I thought the security guard was going to ask us to leave.  We continued walking and entered the museum's Impressionism room.  The first painting you see when you walk in because of its size is Water Lilies by Monet.  We stood in front of it for several minutes and marveled and the brilliant brushstroke technique and how the painting changes depending upon how close or far you are when you look at it.  The last room we entered was twentieth century art.      I was surprised at the number of minimalist paintings they had, the large canvas of only yellow paint, the large canvas of blue with a white line down the middle.  I recently read an essay by a woman who wrote that most people say they don't understand abstract   or nonrepresentational art and that the cognitive dissonance is the point.  It challenges us.  When we look at a painting of vase with flowers we understand the idea.  We can say we like the colors or the technique is amazing because it's so realistic.  Abstract art makes us think differently.  We need to ask “What's going on here?”  We still have a reaction.  I reacted with a positive emotion to the large canvass of yellow because I like the color yellow and it reminded me of the sun.  An expressionistic painting is going to have colors and shapes and movement that causes us to react.  The art will make us think or feel.  I might not understand or appreciate the technique or what looks an incredibly simple painting—yellow on a canvass—but this artist has established himself in the art world and the art world values his contribution and ability. 

Finished at the Museum we headed to the grocery store.  Four of Waylon's friends were coming over for dinner this evening and he needed to buy a few items for the meal.  You can learn a lot about a city's food culture by it's grocery stores.  Waylon shops at Market of Choice, similar to Whole Foods.  I noticed a few generalizations: Portlanders love organic.  Virtually every food item, not only fruits and vegetables,provided an organic option.  Portlanders love power bars.  I think the bar section was as large as the cereal section.  I didn't know there were this many companies making power bars and I didn't know there were this many options for what you want—high carbs, low protein; low carbs, high protein; endurance; strength; gluten free, vegan, and of course, organic.  Portlanders love Oregon wine and beer.  I didn't realize there were as many wineries in Oregon as represented on the shelf.  Several people told me the most common and the best is the Pinot Noir followed by the Pinot Gris, but every other variety of wine was represented.  Similarly with the beer.  The other side of the aisle featured beer brewed in Oregon and it was as large as the wine section.  The previous day at Powell's I read that breweries are the fastest growing business in Oregon and Oregon has the third largest number of breweries after California and Washington. 

Back at Waylon's home, Waylon's friends arrived and we sat in the living room talking.  and then sat outside while Waylon grilled tempeh, potatoes, and plums from his bakcyard tree (delicious) and served a mixed green salad.  An article I read in a magazine several months ago stated that if you want to get to know a variety of wine, drink it exclusively for several bottles over several weeks so that you understand the general taste and the nuances of its flavor, and then switch to something else.  The contrast will be distinct, which means you'll particular notice the difference in flavor of whatever you've switched to.  I decided to do this with the Pinot Gris since it was new variety to me and one I most likely  wouldn't find in Minnesota.  Waylon's friends were interesting and enjoyable.  I expected this to be the case.  You can learn a lot about a person from his or her friends.  Likewise, from that person's roommate.  Waylon's roommate, Sarah, was a kind and happy woman who stayed at her girlfriend's house for the weekend so that I could sleep in her bed rather than on the couch, and the few times she was at home, I enjoyed talking to her, and I could tell that she and Waylon has a great relationship as roommates.  We played three board games after dinner.  I hadn't heard of any of them.  The first was like Apples to Apples except with pictures and the latter two were in the Magic card game realm.  I've never played this genre of board game before but I was trying a lot of new things already on this journey and so I played with a lot of assistance.  Waylon and his friends really got into it.  I could tell their inner kids loved playing this.  It struck me as a great way for intellectual and imaginative adults to play with each other.  Before I flew out to Portland I read an article about what makes us happy and one of the items the author mentioned was playing.  I don't play often as an adult. I have two nephews, four and six, and one godson, eight, who I play with when I see them, usually once a month, but beyond that, I don't play.  Unless you have children, I think that's true for a lot of adults.  I don't participate in recreational sports, I don't play an instrument, I'm not involved with a theater company. Writing could be considered a form of playing.  Regardless, I liked playing the board games and I'm going to make an effort to play more board games and to play more in general.  It's a great social interaction and I want to foster for more socialization in my life with friends of like minded nature.  This trip to Oregon has reminded of socialization and friendship as a key ingredient in my satisfaction. 

Waylon's friends left.  We cleaned the kitchen together.  He worked in the morning, and  like I do, he likes waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen with dishes washed, things put away, and the coffee ready to go. 

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