Thursday, March 17, 2011


Sitting here Thursday morning waiting for our Amtrak train to Seattle. I have a heavy load of books--probably too many--to lug up there for my two Saturday events; plus all the luggage--probably too much, no, certainly much more than we actually needed--that we brought with us. We travel a good deal, but the art of packing still eludes us. We throw it all in... in case. Anyway, we find Union Station nicely Wi-fi'ed, so I can put these few minutes to use while we wait.

Did I mention Monday night? A very pleasant evening, dining in good company at an Italian restaurant where the food was good and the

Yesterday, another cold and rainy day in Portland. We had a lazy start to the day, with room service breakfast, and a good couple of quiet hours for me to get ready for my evening lecture at the Portland Art Museum. Late morning, our friend Clinton MacKenzie picked me up at the hotel and drove me out to his studio, where we spent a good while catching up with his recent paintings--fine abstractions that work with shape, line and color, and even the hint of volume to create complex surfaces for the eye to work with. Then on to a neighboring studio in the same downtown warehouse building, where Trude Parkinson works with large, double-sided images that typically feature figures seen from the rear in wide open landscapes. As always, a real pleasure to visit artists' studios and talk to them about their work.

(Now on board the Cascades 506 bound for Seattle--just left Portland Union station...)

Clinton generously took me out for lunch at Papa Haydn's, where we enjoyed an excellent chicken salad and one (each) of their barely describable, superlative desserts. Mine was a chocolate hazelnut torte with an entirely unnecessary scoop of vanilla ice cream. Through the window, as we indulged our guilty pleasure, we happened to spot our wives indulging theirs: a shopping spree! Ours, I think, was at least a little less expensive.

Back at the hotel, I spent a little more time on my preparation for the evening, and was barely out of the shower when Ellie returned in company--to my surprise--with Paul Gerhards, my publisher at Parami Press. Though we have worked together for a couple of years now, we have not met before, so it was a special pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know him--and, a little later, his wife, Robin.

The talk at the museum went very well, to judge from the response at the reception that followed. I was concerned, at the start, because they had scheduled me in an enormous auditorium, but enough people showed up to make it feel, well, reasonably well attended, especially after I managed to persuade a number of participants to move down from their seats in the back rows to the front. It ended up feeling almost intimate. I was glad to have spent the extra time adapting my chosen topic to this new and different audience, and was rewarded by a good number of people who made a point of seeking me out afterwards to let me know how much the talk had meant to them.

A very pleasant dinner, later, with Paul and Robin, and a good opportunity to get better acquainted. Bed in reasonable time, and up with plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast in the hotel dining room before heading for the station. The hotel staff were so efficient getting us into a taxi that I completely forgot to stop at the desk and pay the bill. Ah, well, I'm sure they'll manage to catch up with me.

For now, I'm going to post, pack this thing away, and enjoy the landscape from the window of our Cascades express. More from Seattle...

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