Category Archives: travel

What to Do When You Meet a Mirage : Karla mi Lugo

I met a mirage today. Amber face full of hope and longing, flaming red hair in coils and curls of frantic grace, slender fingers and puckered lips: Karla mi Lugo.

music, street music, portland, portland writer, portland musicianAt first, because I was busy and because I have grown impatient, I avoided her eyes. Don’t talk to me, I thought, because you are beautiful and probably crazy, and I don’t have time to get sidetracked and sucked into yet another personal labyrinth. Also, don’t ask for money because I don’t have any. At all.

portland writer, beverage writer, portland music, street musicianHer music is reflective; a wash of accordion and clear, piercing whistling, and a husky voice like an autumn evening. As I sat, carefully ignoring her, her music sidled into my consciousness with a purity that finally had my attention. I put down my work. I engaged.

beauty, accordion, pretty dressWe talked. 5 years ago I also made my living performing in the streets and hoping equally for engagement and clinking coins from passersby. I am relieved to have left that urgency, but then again: I never handled it with such grace and aplomb as Karla does. Since I cannot offer money, I pull out my camera and lovingly explore the silken planes of her face in the afternoon sun, the crisp stripes of her apron, the delicate arabesques on her instrument.

musician, beautifulKarla will be, in her words, “going on [my] musical pilgrimage to Paris” next month, and, I believe I overheard, competing in an international whistling contest. I wish her the best of luck and glorious chance meetings, and I look forward to her return to our gritty streets.

When you meet a mirage, you’d best drop your work and listen.

music, beauty, portland music

beauty, well met, portland street musicafternoon/ Alberta St. Arts District / karla mi lugo






3 Classic Seattle Coffeehouses

espresso vivace, espresso, seattle coffee, seattle espresso

Seattle coffeehouses hold a special place in my heart, and I’m not alone. Much has been written about how the green mermaid wrapped her arms around the world from this Emerald City, but not so much has been said about the influence of Seattle’s independent cafe culture. I’m nowhere near able to write the definitive version; still, David Schomer of Espresso Vivace was one of my first/best influences as a young barista, and no visit to Seattle is complete for me without multiple visits to his shops.

coffee, seattle coffee, macchiato, seattle espresso, espresso vivace

Look at that. Take in that flawless surface, the milk and espresso melding in perfection. This, friends, is a macchiato. This, friends, puts most of the thousands of espresso drinks I’ve downed in the shadows. This, friends, is why I haven’t been ordering cappuccinos lately in my home city of Portland. Because I’ve never tasted a milk/espresso beverage made to this level of beauty anywhere other than Espresso Vivace.

analog coffee, coffee, seattle coffee, espresso, seattle espresso

At Analog Coffee in Capitol Hill, I had a delicious shot of Herkimer Coffee, and thoroughly enjoyed photographing the space. The classic “Seattle-style” espresso is giving way to newcomers like Slate (below) but every time I drink a shot like this I immediately think about moving here. Rich, syrupy, viscous, earthy and sweet at once, its makes me remember why I fell in love with espresso in the first place.

barista, seattle barista, victrola coffee, seattle coffee

The last shop I want to mention here is Victrola Coffee, the Capitol Hill location of which was an easy walk from the Convention Center where I attended SCAA last weekend. So busy was I trying to capture the elusive charm of barista Mark’s workflow and face that I only remember my shot being rather ristretto and rather tasty, so I know I’ll have to come back for a more studied impression another time. Regardless, Victrola represents another gritty, classic Seattle shop that is hugely attractive to me.

Not everyone likes this style of coffeehouse–in fact, that’s the whole point of the 3rd wave movement–but I do, and I’ll never be afraid to claim my allegiance to a more classic Italian style of extraction, presented with grace and a complete lack of self-consciousness that is refreshing to this sometimes-weary coffee drinker.

last weekend / Seattle / Vivace, Analag, Victrola



On Assignment: Cannon Beach

beach, ocean, cannon beach, oregon beach, toddler, cute, sun and sandCannon Beach, and a toddler’s cheeks. The brief sun on our lips and the ocean breeze in our eyes. A break from the craziness of the city and a meditation on all that matters.

family, beach, ocean, three generations, sun and sandThree generations stand overlooking the boundless deep. Toes wriggle into the sand under cold water.

husband and wife, love on the beach, beach, ocean, oregon beachSeparate paths on similar terrain. Hearts locked together and meditations alone. I may be on assignment but I am also fully alive, on a beach, with my family. Life’s circles come together in a perfect Venn Diagram and I stand in the center.

Cannon Beach, OR / afternoon / off the grid