Loving Your Local Businesses

DiMarco'sHere are 3+ Ways to Love the Businesses that are near you

There are lots of reasons to support local businesses. By shopping locally, for instance, we keep our money in our community. It also lessens the amount of (often noisy, often diesel, often idling) delivery vans clogging our streets. These are some obvious reasons, but I’ve been finding more gold in them there hills – read on for some further insights!  Here are 3+ ideas of ways to look at local businesses that you may not have thought of.

  1. Try this: Physically visit local businesses. If you need something, great. But even if you don’t, walk into your local businesses. Meet the people who have created little worlds all around you. Each local business has turned its shop into something special. Even if it doesn’t look like anything special is going on, hang out for a minute and I think you’ll see what I mean. Often it’s obvious. If you walk into a terrarium or flower shop the air is suddenly fresh and lovely. If you walk into a cat store, yes, we have one! Gifty Kitty on Mississippi. Go! When you walk in and are surrounded by all the joyful creations and the cat energy – it is transformative. Pistil, right down the street is very sweet, too.
  2. Get off track. It’s fine to take an afternoon and wander into a few stores. I like to find a good corner, but most are good – and walk into each store. Last week that included the Hollywood Market, Seven Virtues, Seagrape Apothocary, and Centaur Guitars – at 28th and Sandy in NE Portland, Oregon.  It was a delightful collection. My home set is Marino’s Coffee/Tropical Hut (little fishies, snakes, geckos)/Village Merchants – “well buy low and sell low”. – an amazing treasure house. These are located at 41st and Division in SE Portland. When Schavone’s is open it’s also a must-see Portland piece of history and fine “diner” food.
  3. Help any small business out. Leave them a review somewhere. Platform Examples
      1. Yelp!

      2. Google My Business

      3. Nextdoor (wow, hard to find a link!)

      4. Facebook

      5. Alignable

      6. these are links to my review sites – click on one and then use the search function to find a business you like.
    • But even better – get to know the owner/people who work at a small business and become friends. The rest will follow from there.
    • Bring gifts 🙂 I once brought the staff at Trade Up Music croissants from Le Petit Provence (they liked that)
    • Say, thank you. Take your time. Make a connection.

For Richmond, Portland, Oregon, USA, and Earth here are some of the small businesses I’d recommend visiting. I’ll do them in a clockwise fashion. This ties into the Birthday Game.  Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

TPK Brewing – Gamer (D&Dish) paradise. Live edge wooden tables. Great place to meet someone or cook up a revolution

Hinterland – Food cart pod 50th and Lincoln. The railing facing West is lovely at sunset.  5 food carts. All quite good.

The patio is across the street @ the Breathe Building. Yoga and all sorts of other goodies are going on again and there’s also a Burmese restaurant which is lovely. Esp. in warmer weather.

The Lot food cart pod – BenBearBeer holds this cart in a good way.  They have great tunes. Instruments on the walls.  Lots good to say.  5 food carts, all great. I love the Middle Eastern food. Namu. Yum!

Ethiopian Restaurant – just S. of Division and 50th (which should be repaved yesterday)

Mekong Restaurant – Delicious

The Typewriter Store!

Landmark Saloon – a great place to gather outdoors and covered. Spring, Summer, Fall – I go then. Has live music, blues, and country.

Across the street – the Bead Store.  Also will help you with attaching things to coats 🙂  See my bejeweled coat pulls.

Le Petit Provence. Fresh croissants and a whole more.

The place with the patches

The Bike Emporium – fun bike store – great place to get your bike fixed

Vintage shop

Trade Up Music – everyone should be visiting their stores. There’s also one on Alberta and 19th.  Especially if you are not a musician – buy some egg shakers!  But for musicians – and children – a fun place to visit.

Pic at the top is of DiMarco’s which has the best Philly-style food that I know of that is within walking distance for me. 45th and Hawthorne

The Turning Peel – a new restaurant featuring personal pizzas and a lot of lovely decor. I ate there yesterday and had a fantastic lunch. Can’t wait to return!

Stumptown Coffee (strongest coffee around) – 45th and Division

Marino’s Adriatic Cafe – best tasting coffee in town – 41st and Division – they use Caffe D’arte beans (which you can also buy by the pound). Belly Dancing on 2nd Saturday of the month

Tropical Hut – pet store – little fishies, geckos, snakes, mice – great for kids

Schavone’s – great “diner”. Only open on Thurs.-Sunday now, but still great food and it feels like you’re stepping into 1940’s Portland

Village Merchants – amazing thrift store at 41st and Division. Also, a place to consign things.

MyVice – Lincoln and Cesar Chavez – one of my favorite breakfast places in Portland. Delicious food. Lovey atmosphere

Joe Bike – great bike store next to MyVice

Cesar Chavez/Hawthorne headed East towards 51st

There are a ton of fun places to visit along this stretch – I’m only going to mention ones where I think it’s possible to gather with a few people for a meal or it’s a store one just must visit.

Opening to Life – a healthcare place – but also has a nice dance studio in the back (possible gathering space) – I just took an improv class there.

Bamboo House 40th and Hawthorne (N. side of the Street) – great food and a good gathering spot – spacious

Next Level Burger (vegan) 41st and Hawthorne

Fat Straw – Bubble Tea – 42nd and Hawthorne – potential gathering spot

Ladda Thai (vegetarian) – next to Fat Straw – easily possible to move tables together for a group – very tasty!

Common Grounds Coffeehouse – great coffee, busy place, 42nd and Hawthorne.

Roosevelt’s Terrariums – 44th and Hawthorne – across from Kure. Amazing place – great oxygen and inspiring. Also holds classes in terrarium making

Khao Thai – 46th – quiet and tasty. Great place for a group to gather

Por Que No? 47th – Best Mexican food around. Fun space

Space Room 48th and Hawthorne – huge place. Fun interior. Great place for breakfast or to grab an outdoor or indoor pint.

Quarterworld Arcade – across the street from Space Room.

Mellow Mood – pipe and bong shop – but also home to the best glass work in this field. Also features a very interesting interior.

Sapphire Hotel – 50th and Hawthorne – opens at 4 pm. One of the best date spots in town.  Great food. Lovely decor.

Albina Press – great coffee.  Chill atmosphere.

And back to TPK Brewing – see above!  A loop has been made.  Enjoy! 

I’m planning a funconference in this neighborhood – a series of daytime activities on a couple of days this Spring. There may also be a virtual component. To learn more…


If you’re Single and seeking – start by loving your city!


kmhd.org or 89.1 on the radio in Portlandia


About Last Night – Portland Folk Festival 2024

Portland Folk Festival 2024

A fun thing happened last night – and it couldn’t have without a lot of different things coming together at once. It all started with an email yesterday afternoon.

I was preparing for an evening of pre-storm pj’s and a movie. Cozy. Warm. Home. Instead, I said “Yes!” and off I headed into a night of fun and adventure. Normally, receiving some gifted tickets to something wouldn’t warrant a blog entry, but there’s more fun to share.  On the way to the show, I got a follow-up email that there was a second ticket available. This led to me scrambling to find someone to go with.

I turned to my Constant Contact mobile app (I was on the bus into town at this point) and sent a note to my “Tag along at the last minute” list – to see if anyone wanted to join me. That only turned up a friend from Seattle saying hi. But the fact that I could do this felt very fun and sometimes it works like a charm.

I got into the Crystal Ballroom and there were vendors and seating and fewer people than I’d ever shared that room and dance floor with. It was super sweet and people were in a great mood. The music was lovely, too. I got to hobnob with some Portland music legends – Worth, and Louie Longmier – both folks I’d been wanting to meet over the years. The artists also seemed really pleased to be playing for this festival. The Festival raises money for homeless projects around Portland.

Music Portland was there and I got to speak with one of their board members, Rose Gerber, who shared what the organization needs volunteer-wise. I may plug in and help.  Also, $ raised by the event is going to All Good Northwest.

I ended up talking to the folks at Shady Pines Radio and they invited one of their staff to take the extra ticket and she showed up with a big smile on her face!

At the end of the night, the person who had gifted me the ticket introduced herself and we shared a Lyft home.  What a fine way to spend the evening than home alone! And a Folk Festival – in Winter! I hope they do a Summer one – I’ll help and volunteer!!!

They’ve canceled tonight (Saturday’s show), but intend to pull it all together for Sunday. I’ll likely go! Join me!

It all started because someone I don’t know but who is on my email list (who receives my newsletters) reached out to me. Albert smiling.

PS – I did some live streaming (not fantastic quality, but hey) on my Facebook account here.

PPS – Here’s a Spotify playlist of the many groups that play this festival!

Plushrooms! the vendors were great!

Here’s a write-up of part two which was smooshed into one day a few weeks later. It was a great day and I took some pics and videos located here.

song a day

you can give Song a Day a try. A new song every day for 232 days.



Summer Solstice Healing Retreat 2022 – SSHR

SSHR 2022

Sauna at Breitenbush

The incredible wet sauna which is a world treasure.

I’m just back from this year’s Summer Solstice Healing Retreat (SSHR) at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. This was my 27th year. I started going in 1995 (thank you, Shelley Glendenning) after I had recently relocated to Seattle, WA. I wanted to talk about this year’s event and also what makes retreats so valuable.

First off, one of the main things that are valuable about a healing retreat is sharing with one another things we know about healing. This post was inspired by a short talk I had with a friend about getting a good night’s sleep. I recommended to him my trick of using construction headphones whenever needed. I go into more detail about the headphones and offer my personal life tips in an 11-part series I created a couple of years ago. And that’s how the whole weekend went. I’d bring up some ailment or issue and someone would likely be the right person to answer a question, provide a book reference or know someone at the workshop to talk to.

home in the meadow

Home in the meadow

SSHR is structured so there is plenty of time to soak in the hot tubs, hot spring pools, and wet sauna. That is a great combination with the delicious vegetarian fare and the sound of the rushing Breitenbush river flowing by. Then there are the workshops put on by participants for one another. This year I participated in a few workshops and offered one of my own. Mine was an introduction to co-counseling which I’ve been doing for over 30 years. I gave a short explanation of what co-counseling is and how it got started, we practiced co-counseling a little bit and then I answered participants’ questions. Here are a couple of the workshops I participated in and I’ll fill in the references further as I figure out contact information for the different teachers.

  1. Leah Tarleton – The Nourished Sensitive led a lovely workshop on nutrition in the River Yurt – there were some great book recommendations and the woman teaching is an RD and had a great mixture of life experience and ideas for weight loss (an issue for me) and how to make eating more fun and interesting. She finished the workshop with a taste experience featuring Honey Mama’s chocolate – having us talk about the differences between different tastes and textures
  2. Evelin Dacker did a great talk called “Let’s Talk about Sex” which was an introduction to her STARS talk. I’ll let that link serve as an explanation of what the workshop was about. If you’ve never heard about the talk it’s a great guide for conversations to have with new partners.
  3. I chanted kirtan with Natavar Knudson in the North Wing of the lodge. We tried to keep things safe all weekend by having masks on when indoors. I played the drum and Natavar ably led us on various chants using his harmonium. He has been doing this for years and his talent is really high level and rich.
  4. Odyssey offered an interesting workshop on erotic hypnosis. Often I find hypnosis workshops kind of hypnotizing 🙂 And I often find myself in a state between sleeping and awake and this one was no different. I think I get the idea, though, and it is a mighty interesting one.

Personally, I took the weekend to take a break from coffee and a downshift from sugar. Actually, I didn’t have any meat except a little bit of beef jerky that someone offered me. It was also a lovely chance for a tech fast – there is no wi-fi available to guests at Breitenbush – so no phone or laptop for 4 days – yeah. This year I could actually feel the distance from the internet hour by hour as my fingers played the guitar or I soaked – and all the work I do in the world had to take a break!

Part of the weekend is also Karma Yoga we all do. Here is a crew headed to remove scotch broom – an invasive that grows well in disturbed areas of forest.

Very important to these gatherings is also the reunion aspect. There’s a chance to reconnect with people you have known for years and also to meet new people. I’ve been feeling for a while that I don’t have enough baby energy in my life – and boy were my prayers answered on that score. There was a 2-year-old girl who I spent the weekend playing peekaboo with and having all sorts of interactions with. There’s nothing like a 2-year-old to bring your attention to the present moment. And she was full of so much joy – bringing a smile to my head and heart all weekend long.

Then there’s all the catching up with one another. Giving each other health updates and sharing stories of those who we know in common and what’s up in their lives. It can have the feeling of a big family reunion. This year there were only 160 people in attendance, but many years there are 4-500 people – so there were many people missing from our celebration and lots of connections and information to share. Being an extrovert I know a lot of people and that means a lot of stories and updates 🙂 And we also talk about those who are no longer with us like Amira and Ben Bochner. We sang Altar of Love a couple of times – a song that Ben introduced to many of us. Amira used to love this song – Light you Up!

Over the years there have been varying amounts of musicians participating. We had a pretty small group this year and so the number of musicians was also smaller than usual. Luckily, I had the company of Kieran McManus to keep me company. Kieran’s a great person to jam with – not only does he know some wonderful songs, but he’s also an incredible lead player. I think we both upped our game during the pandemic – so, it’s a joy to play together whenever we get the chance as he’s also relocated to Bend, Oregon which is a ways from Portland. We both had many opportunities to play for everyone which added to the healing for everyone. Singing together is one of my favorite things to do – so I suppose it was healing for me and others at the same time.

A lot of people are probably wondering how Breitenbush is doing. Speaking of healing. The place has been under the duress of closing during Covid and then a wildfire rushed through and took out over 70 structures. There are huge patches of forest that are gone and all of the guest cabins and some very precious places are no longer there – like the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was a lovely building that many of us have come to love over the years. Many workshops were held there, yoga, chanting, and just people doing their own personal retreats. Personally, I sang inside the Sanctuary dozens of times. I never thought this building would ever be gone.

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

The Breitenbush Sanctuary

If you’re curious to see what the result of the forest fires and tree removal look like now – John Holley’s blog is a treasure trove. It also goes back through the years better than any collection of photos around.

There were lots of elements to this year’s SSHR that I could go into – this could be a much longer post. There’s a lovely group ritual to welcome the solstice and a no-talent talent show. During this year’s show and also at the campfire along the flood plain I made up some one-of-a-kind songs that I’ve been doing for years. The first song highlighted the carrots and beets which are usually on the menu at every meal (including salad), but which had been missing for our first couple of meals. What was funny is that the meal which followed my song suddenly there appeared beets and carrots and people came up to me sharing that they loved the song and thanking me for bringing the beets and carrots 🙂  The second song I made up had some fun elements that came to me at the moment – I talked about the VIP treatment we were all receiving (having our cars parked and a bottle of champagne for each tent – all of which was not true, but was funny at the moment). Actually, I spent the weekend in a cold and damp tent – and part of the song focused on how – next year I’m going to upgrade to fancier digs. This also is probably not true, but we’ll see – there are now some nicer tents that are canvas and already set up and have a bed inside them. That’s part of the change at Breitenbush – new housing is in the works and already well underway!  Ah, the chance to sing together around a fire in the woods – priceless. We even saw stars for one brief moment.

The giveaway circle at the end of the weekend is also a fun element that is repeated each year. Everyone puts something into the circle and we take turns finding a new treasure. After that, we hold hands in a circle, sing songs, and then say our farewells until we meet again.

I am so grateful for this year’s celebration. It’s usually the start of my Summer and is such a great way to be reminded of the beauty of the world. Good food, dance, soaking, singing, and being together. What more does one need?  My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone at Breitenbush who worked hard to put this event on and also our Breitenbush Counsel which has been collaborating to make SSHR the best ever for many years! I wish you some time at Breitenbush or a similar place with good friends to celebrate our time on this planet together.

Love, Albert

Albert and Kieran McManus Closing Circle 2022 – photo by Kaya Singer

Moving about the Gameboard – Charlotte, NC?

Charlotte, NC

Well, Hello Charlotte

Recently, I was traveling back from visiting my family on the East Coast. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, to be exact. That’s where I was born and I grew up not far away in New Jersey. I was on my way back to Portland, Oregon, my home for the past 20 years (7 years in Seattle before that). I love it in Portland and hardly ever think of leaving, but of course, traveling by air puts strange thoughts in one’s mind. On my trip back to Portland, I had a short layover in Charlotte, North Carolina and it kind of moved me.

The flight into Charlotte took us over some very flat terrain and I could see the city clearly from above. It looks like a much smaller place than Portland, Oregon – at least from the air. It turns out that Charlotte and the metropolitan area are maybe even bigger than Portland, Oregon. It looked warm and green and full of lots of suburbias. Kind of like the part of New Jersey that I grew up in – Lawrence, New Jersey. 

The airport was also nice. I ended up sitting down at a restaurant and having a meal. Whereas everyone on the plane and in the airport was wearing masks because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, in the restaurant you were allowed to remove your mask which was a relief and a great break up to the day.

When I think about leaving Portland, I often start with what I love about this place. I was just thinking yesterday about Depave which is an organization that helps people organize work parties where we rent a dumpster and pull up all the asphalt and it’s hauled away. I’ve been doing this type of thing even before I moved to Portland. In Seattle, we rented a large truck to do this, but the dumpster route is much preferred. When I rented a truck – we ended up driving to the transfer station – something that’s fun once, but not something you really want to repeat! I’ll never forget how sore I was pushing the asphalt off the truck and into the pit of the transfer station! 

Anyway, does Charlotte, NC have a Depave group? Do they have a Friends of Trees which works to plant trees in the area? I wonder how I’d do moving to a completely new town.  Whether I still have the energy to start new efforts from scratch or whether I’d just settle in and ignore all that needs to be done. These are big questions that I pose to myself as I consider ever leaving Portland, Oregon.

The big reason I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the first place was for better weather. I grew up in New Jersey which had real winters. Snowy. Cold. After living in Germany from 1991-1994 I realized that I really was through with Winter. That’s why Seattle came next. And I’ve never thought seriously about relocated back to the Northeast even though winters there are becoming warmer due to climate change. Charlotte, North Carolina does look like it’s got a little bit of a humid, tropical feel.  I guess my next step will be to gather with my cousins, brother and sister there one of these days and spend a weekend seeing what it’s really like. If you have any thoughts about Charlotte, NC, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or, where are you eyeing as the next place to live if you are considering relocating?

Thanks for your thoughts. 


PS – that’s me at Breitenbush this summer for the summer solstice gathering 2021

Albert at Breitenbush Summer Solstice 2021

Me by Zen

Zen Magic!

Zen Achilles turns his friends into magic. Here’s the latest version he did for my 60th birthday in 2021. And they keep coming!

And here are some more from the past – enjoy!


Georgia on My Mind

The upcoming election in Georgia will set the tone and pace of how our lives go for the next two years. If we win the 2 senate seats – Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock – we’ll have a little better chance to get serious about the climate crisis. So many things will be possible that will be blocked by Mitch McConnell and his cronies if Georgia votes Republican in these races. Let’s all help get out the vote in Georgia for the next few days.

The day after I was aware that there were to be two senate runoff seats in Georgia I decided to do some things to win these seats for Democrats. Here’s why and some guidance about what you can still do to help.

I’m a musician, so whenever I’m asked to contribute my mind goes to music. Georgia on my Mind has been an ongoing theme for many during this upcoming election. I’m also a marketing guide – so my main mode is email newsletters. So, I combined the two.

Here are the four newsletters I’ve sent to my list and tried to send further as well via social media.

  1. If you didn’t know, now you know
  2. See possibilities, dear Georgia – John and Eecole write a song
  3. Featuring an awesome Broadway for Georgia
  4. You’re getting very Peachy

​This is Important

For the children

For your neighbors

For you

​Get busy!

For lots more information on these two races and how you and your friends can get involved, click here.

Please copy the url of this post and share it on social media: https://albertideation.com/georgia-now

Credit: HTML help from Dan Kaufman at DKG Promotions

Editing: Hannah Kaufman