Hand Knit Socks for the Journey of 2012

Mom's Hand Knit Socks photo: jparadisi 2012

It was a quiet New Year’s Eve in our home, as I worked the next day. It’s okay, because I’ve heard what you do on the first day of the year sets its character. With several hospitals in town looking at staff lay offs, I’m grateful.

I wore a pair of wool socks inside my nurse clogs, knitted and given to me by my mom. They inspired me to write, “Learn to knit socks” on a Post-It note, and add it to my Mason jar of goals and dreams for 2012. Another hastily written, last-minute Post-It note reads, “Research and purchase a case of Oregon Pinot Noir.” I am an accidental wine enthusiast (another post). I may have to work an overtime shift to accomplish it, unless of course, I am a casualty of the layoffs.

2012 is a year of uncertainty, waiting to learn if the economy will improve, or if the other shoe hasn’t yet fallen. I remain cautiously optimistic; I believe the opportunity for things to improve is about the same as for things to go wrong. Surprised by joy is a possibility.

So, I’m wearing the wool socks my mom lovingly knitted, put one foot in front of the other, and begin the journey that is the year 2012.

Miracle on Hoyt Street

Note: This post was originally published on December 22, 2010

If It Fits It Ships photo: jparadisi 2010

Trudging out of an Oregon rainstorm into the Post Office, I found a line of 30 people like me with Christmas packages to mail. In a poorly ventilated building, a crowd of wet people smells like wet dogs, but less so. John Lennon’s voice sounded scratchy singing “And so this is Christmas” from a poor quality speaker. I knew the late afternoon was a bad time to go, but I’ve never been a morning person, a characteristic that served me well for twelve years of night shifts.  I started thinking that a busy hospital is a model for Post Office chaos during the holiday season. Each type of health care provider or patient personalities exists in this parallel universe, the Post Office.

For example, attempting to speed things up, a woman wearing a name badge triaged the swelling line of package bearing humanity, asking who needs insurance forms to fill out. Someone at the back of the line asks her what time the Post Office closes. She says she doesn’t know, because she usually doesn’t work in this area. Apparently postal workers float to unfamiliar departments like nurses do during staffing shortages.

In front of me, a woman with silver hair converses with a younger woman. I suspect the silver-haired woman is a retired nurse, because she hands out an endless supply of clicky-pens to other customers in the line in need of writing implements, then pulls a Sharpie out of the same pocket for her own use. The younger woman has long hair pulled back in a barrette. She is sans makeup and wears what we call in Oregon, “tree-hugger” shoes. She is overweight, but kindly attentive to the silver-haired woman. While she speaks, a similar looking man I take for her husband appears and gives her a peck on the mouth. It makes me happy.

I watch a woman wrapping packages in tissue paper and bar code stickers. In front of her, a man loudly complains on a cell phone, “Those #$*#-ing doctors give you a bunch of pills and then you can’t get a hold of them!” He never stops talking the entire time the clerk processes his packages. When he’s finished, she says “Merry Christmas, Sir”, which I think is more than he deserves.

Finally, it’s my turn. Oh no, it’s that clerk, the one who is Newman to my Jerry Seinfeld. She annoys the hell out of me because she doesn’t ask if the contents of a package are dangerous, instead she asks, “What’s in the package?” Once, David and I got into a disagreement when he told her what was in my package. I insisted she was violating my privacy. I’m not special: In the past, I’ve heard her say rude things to other customers and her coworkers too. I brace myself for the encounter, because I have to get these damn packages in the mail in time for Christmas and I’ve been in line for an hour.

She does not ask what’s in my packages. “Anything hazardous, flammable, toxic or a combination thereof?” is all she asks. I say “No.” “How do you want this posted?” she asks. I say “First class,” but she informs me that anything over 13 ounces cannot be First Class. “Priority?” I say as nicely as possible. She pulls out some tape, and fixes a loose corner on one of my packages. “Sorry,” I say, “I never get it perfect.” “Forget perfect, my dear,” she says to me while I pay for the postage. Then she hands me a candy cane. “It’s always a pleasure to serve someone who comes in with a smile. Merry Christmas.”

Daylight Savings Time: For What?

full moon 001

Full Moon Over the Willamette River photo: JParadisi

     Am I the only person who thinks that the little clock on coffee makers should change time via satellite, like cellphones and computers do?

     Tonight, the full moon hangs in the sky like a silvery lozenge, over the Willamette River.  The problem is, it’s only six o’clock in the evening. The early darkness cues my body for sleep. Or to sit in front of the TV and eat. There’s brownie mix in the pantry…

     I am not ready for winter. Why do I need to save time, as if it will be there waiting for me later?

Is Portland America’s #1 Unhappiest City?

     Has anyone else seen this?  Businessweek.com selected Portland, Oregon as the #1 most unhappy city in the U.S. Do any of us agree? I mean, yeah, our unemployment is up, and it can get pretty cloudy, but truly, I’m shocked by this article. Am I that out of touch? Read the article by using the link below, then take the poll and let me know what you think.


Drawing Lessons: Perspective

East Bank Esplanade. J.Paradisi 2009

East Bank Esplanade. J.Paradisi 2009

   While running on the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River the other day, I saw a trio of young siblings torturing one of the trees that struggle to grow in the exhaust fumes underneath the freeway near the Hawthorne Bridge. The tallest child, a girl about ten years old, pulled violently on the low hanging branch of the leafless tree, while her brother beat at it with a large twig.  The smallest child danced around the two of them, a blur in her pink parka. Nearby, their father sat on a bench, talking on a cell phone.  Smiling, he watched his children play and enjoyed a brief interlude to himself.

      I am mindful to avoid becoming that nasty little old lady I knew as a child. You remember her. She was the one who called your mom complaining that the flowers you brought home from school were stolen from her garden. She called  your mom again when you and your friends threw  the apples that fell rotten from her tree at one another: you never understood why she cared, they were there for the taking in the street.

     Oh, don’t forget the time you drew pictures with chalk on the sidewalk near her house. Even your grandparents scolded you for that one and you had to go back with a can of soapy water and a rag to scrub your work off of the pavement.

  She narked on other kids in the neighborhood too and on Halloween her house was specially targeted for toilet paper streamers and raw eggs thrown by the older ones.  I heard my friend’s mother say the next day, “Why would anyone do that to such a nice old lady?”  Was she kidding?

    I don’t want to be that old lady, so I held my tongue as I ran by. A few yards away, I watched and the children stopped what they were doing, releasing the tree. I observed that the boy  ran with his long twig and the  whirling pink girl held one too, as if it were a magic wand. Only the tallest girl didin’t have a twig and was unable to join her sibling’s play.

     Oh. I get it.

     I found a long, slender twig on the ground next to me and walked back to the children, placing it on the sidewalk near them. The pink girl saw me do it and took the offering back to her older sister.

     Perspective is an important consideration when composing a drawing or telling a story. Empathy for the perspective of others is essential for peace. I hope I remember this as I make my way through life.

     I also hope that those kids don’t poke their eyes out.

Opening of CHAP Art Factory This Saturday. Patch Adams @PSU February 20 &21

 CHAP is one of my favorite local organizations supportiing the children of our community. Please take a moment to read this newsletter and find out more about them.


Saturday, February 14
1030 NW Marshall (2 blocks from the old CHAP studio)
Opening on a plug and a prayer!!!!!!!

In keeping with CHAP’s love of “Recession Retail” and the litany of miracles that came our way during CHAP HOLIDAY BIZARRE 2008,  we are opening our new and improved CHAP ART FACTORY on Valentine’s Day! Our new location at 1030 NW Marshall in the Pearl faces Tanner Springs Park and the beautiful Fremont Bridge.  We are in another LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building that is so perfectly built that CHAP is opening our 4,200 square foot factory with only a single electrical outlet — just enough to spark up a computer and a stereo. There’s no heat yet (wear warm clothes and you will be fine), but two massive walls of floor-to-ceiling glass allow us to work all day in the glory of sunlight.  We now have indoor plumbing!!!
As usual, wear your CHAP art uniforms and get ready to make art for the New Year.  Right now we are focusing on painting in its many forms, creating mandalas, and building spirit towers with Kara and Mary (CHAP’s “Thelma and Louise” of teaching artists). We will be open every Saturday from noon to 5pm (and maybe on Sundays soon).  The CHAP ART FACTORY will help  fund our ongoing mission of bringing the healing power of art to children in crisis.  So this is the plan:  all kids are welcome to come explore CHAP-style for $5 an hour (this is NOT daycare — parents/guardians must remain on-site). Moms, dads or nannies can help with CHAP art projects, like creating ART HUTS from raincoat fabric donated by Columbia Sportswear.  These magical portable (and rainproof) art studios will be packed with paint, brushes, paper and the best wishes of Portland and will be sent around the world with the first heading to a children’s hospital in Afghanistan.
The CHAP ART FACTORY will also host Art Birthday parties,  and 
“I AM DONE” parties celebrating a child’s (or adult’s) last day of chemo.  It is a work in progress — we move ahead with excitement & joy.
February 14th is ART CLUB for kids from the hospitals, Jack’s Wild Birthday Party, the GRAND OPENING of the CHAP ART FACTORY, and Valentine’s Day. This will be a day to remember (and film).  Come be a part of CHAP’S pro-service, non-profit world.


ART CLUB on 2/14: 2-5pm
GRAND OPENING on 2/14: noon-5pm
ART FACTORY: OPEN noon-5pm EVERY Saturday

Friday & Saturday, February 20 & 21
Patch Adams is coming to PSU, and CHAP is a sponsor of the event. 
Tickets are about 10% of admission fees in other cities,
so do not miss this arts in healthcare opportunity.



Mr. Bossy (aka: Art Guy, dba: Frank)                  LINDSAY ROSS
Executive+Artistic Director                               Managing Director

frank@chap.name                                                      lindsay@chap.name
503.243.5294                                                            504.258.2475                      





Children’s Healing Art Project’s ART FACTORY | 1030 NW Marshall | Portland | OR | 97209

I Recommend Luke’s Frameshop

     Many studio guests comment on the quality of the frames and matting of my paintings.  Luke Dolkas handles all of my framing needs, for quite some time now, and recently opened  Luke’s Frame Shop  and gallery space.  I recommend him to artists and collectors of art.  Open Monday-Friday 10 – 6 & Saturday 11 – 5.

Luke’s Frame Shop

2707 SE Belmont

Portland, Oregon 97214