Hello, Portland

posted in: Work 14
Portland trolley on 11th Ave., passing Powell’s Books. Photo: Steve Morgan via Wikipedia.


I’m in Portland.

I’m not here for a vacation, not to visit a friend. I’m not here for a wedding or a funeral. I’m not here to attend Spring Quilt Market, though I will be here in May for that very event.** It would be lovely if I were in Oregon to visit a beau, but no, that’s not the reason I’m here. And of course, it would be normal if I were here for a guild or shop gig; after all, a good deal of the work I have done for the better part of eight years has been teaching/lecturing work. But I’m not here for that.

I’m in Portland for Quiltfolk, which has fast become part of my heart. I’ve been here since Thursday because we’re in press for Issue 06: Arizona, which means I’ve been putting in loong days to get the magazine as perfect as possible before we send it to the printer and go onto all the other business before us. Quiltfolk is why I’m here. And now that I’ve told you the reason, can I tell you something else? Something besides how much I love making magazines? (I love making magazines.)

Okay: I like Portland.

Now, if you’re a longtime reader of the ol’ PG, if you followed me to New York and Washington and back to Chicago, you may be alarmed. If there were stage directions for you right now, this is what those stage directions would look like:

BLOG READER reads Mary’s “I like Portland” line, yelps as if in pain, throws laptop/phone against the wall. Then:  

BLOG READER: “Mary!! No!! You love Chicago! Chicago!! Don’t leave your home! Don’t move to Portland! What, are you kray?? Snap out of it! Go to sleep!”

I love that you know the whole story. Look, I need you to remember the whole story. You’re my alibi. This whole blog is a public record so that when I’m old and gray I can remember everything that happened, with corroboration. I also want you to know I love that you see what I know: Chicago is the place where I belong.

The way I see it, there’s the place where we are born, and there are places where we live. But there are only a few places — maybe even only one place? in the end? — where we truly belong. In my case, I was born in Iowa, and that’s always going to be special. I have lived in lots of wonderful places, viz. Iowa City, Manhattan, Washington, D.C. and I loved all kinds of things about those places and found parts of myself in all of them. But I belong in Chicago. Specifically, downtown Chicago. The Loop. My soul is home in the Chicago Loop. When I get on a plane to Midway or O’Hare, I smile this dumb smile, simply because I get to see the place again.

All that said, I’m going to be coming to Portland a lot more in the future, and I see these hills and bridges. I see the clouds give way to sun that gives way to clouds. I catch my reflection in the window of a Rite Aid drug store as I go for a coffee and I skip across the trolley rails and I think, “I could have a little place here, a pied a terre, for work … ” And the fantasy makes me feel alive.

Which is all I’ve ever wanted, whatever the place.


**At that point, barring disaster, I will have have my master’s degree. But I’m not counting chickens. Or 

14 Responses

  1. Marianne Greenley
    | Reply

    Hi Mary**waving from the West Hills of Portland** There is much to like about Portland … the sewing community is just one of them! (Modern Domestic is my current fav …)

  2. Marcia Hicks
    | Reply

    I moved to Portland from California in the summer of ’74 and I’ve never left! It’s the most amazing place to live and it’s the most lovely place to come home to when traveling across the country or even the world. One day I was driving along I-205 and the sun was out and the sky was SO blue it took my breath away. Welcome to our world. Take it in and experience it ….it will change your life!

  3. Joyce Skinner
    | Reply

    I just finished reading #5 of Quiltfolk. I do not have enough adjuetives to express my love of this magaxinw. It is so well done, the writing, the picture, the lovely people you interview. I can see why you like working for this magazine. I’ve followed your mom and Liz since the start. I took a lesson from them on making quilts from flannel. I was so thrilled to touch their quilts that the quilting world had not seen yet. But, this is about you. Altho not blood, I am proud of all that you have accomplished and all that you have in your future. Just keep on keeping on.
    Joyce (one of your older fans. LOL)

  4. J Michael Voiles
    | Reply

    Good Morning,
    when in Oregon one must follow the unofficial state motto: Just Do It!

    Have fun..

  5. Bethany
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    So go to Powell’s Books. Go to the Saturday market, which I think is also on Sunday and find the Macaron seller. They’re fresh, devine, dozens of flavors, little clouds for your mouth! Eat at the food trucks downtown. Learn to navigate by train, the traffic is hell.

  6. Pattie
    | Reply

    Visited Portland four years ago as part of a two week Oregon Adventure. This born and bred Pittsburgher told my husband that we could never let any of our 3 kids visit, because they would never return to Western Pennsylvania. Needless today, we loved the whole Portland vibe and Oregon culture. Plus, the wine and beer were outstanding!

  7. Joan Huehnerhoff
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    I met you in Portland at EE Schenck Trends a few years ago. I thought you were one of them young, modern, whipper-snappers. But, I fell in love with you and your writing. I am now a huge fan.
    I can also say to my fellow quilters…”well when I met Mary Fons…….” LOL

  8. Jan C.
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    While traveling through to Seattle this fall, I spend several hours and a hundred dollars at Powell’s. Do. Not. Miss. Powell’s!

  9. Pamela Boatright
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    Portland is a marvelous city! My kids live there, and we love any excuse to visit for a few days .

  10. Lauren
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    You used viz. in a sentence!

  11. Mary Monson (Mom of Charles and Jane)
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    It was fun to read about how much you like Portland. I spent most of my life in Iowa City and I dearly love the state of Iowa, but my 13 years living here in Portland have been wonderful. I know you’ll have a great time getting to know the city better when you travel here for work.

  12. Mary Meck
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    SO happy you love our area. Your motivating quilt art & skills have truly led you to your current career, which will continue to inspire many more people for years.

  13. Karen Morrell Johnson
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    Seattle is my home, but Portland has my heart. See you at QM!

  14. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Portland loves you too! But we know you’d never make it here. We have lots of ferns…

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