I was walking down Alberta Street on Sunday, headed toward my favorite fabric store in the world, Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique, wishing I had $200 to spend on cool contemporary cottons, and walking past the food carts that have customer seating fashioned from PVC pipe with toilet seats fastened to the tops (all painted in a wild and grunge artsy style), when I started thinking about my next tattoo.

You too, you say? You know that kind of day? Good! Then you know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please come to Portland to find out. You must know this feeling, at least once, before you go. It’s bliss to be sure.

Back to my story: For some reason I started thinking about a former class-mate at Portland State (University) who used to wear her cute jean skirts to school even through she rode a classic 1970s Schwinn bike everywhere. “Who needs a car?” she used to ask. Her attire was whatever she wanted to wear that day, not some spandex bike outfit with colorful slogans all over it in orange and blue. Nope. Not Adrian…and not for most Portlanders who ride bikes, now that I think about it. Anyway, when I asked Adrian about people who could see up her skirt, because they totally could, she answered simply, “If they want to look up my skirt, I don’t care. I just wear colorful polka dot underwear so they have something amusing to look at.”

From fabric to tattoos to colorful underwear and bikes…and back to a chicken shwarma that smelled so delicious I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to partake. And then to Bolt.

After ohh-ing and wowwww-ing at a wonderful array of colorful, lightweight voiles with my name on them (but without the budget to buy any of them), I purchased my cool, purple and olive print bias tape and took my leave of the wonderful sewist’s fantasy-land that is Bolt. I made my way past a French Boulangerie where smells of cappuccino and freshly baked French pastries filled my nose and made my mouth water and found Trade-Up Music where I can peruse used musical instruments sold for affordable prices or available for trade.

There are independent clothing stores that carry creations by local and almost local designers. I saw the sweetest dresses in the window of one shop, adorning headless fabric dressforms, that were original and light, perfect for Summer if I only wore a smaller size. Still, they inspire me to sew and paint.

Are you looking for some really fantastic tea? There is actually a real live tea house (not by the tracks) on Alberta that serves a variety of wonderful teas, steeped any which way you could ever want, and that allows well-behaved dogs to sit beside the table’s of their human companions.

Portland is a very, very dog-friendly city.

I headed to Halibuts II for a margarita that was so fantastic my taste buds sang along to the blues wafting through the door. If you are looking for real, fresh, wonderful thick cuts of deep-fried Halibut or giant Tiger Prawns, with fries and a spectacular alcoholic drink, you cannot (cannot cannot cannot!) miss Halibuts II and their ‘Ultimate Margaritas.’ They have live music several nights a week and most often that music is Blues. Rumor has it they’ve been written up in the New York TImes for their cuts of fish and for the talent that plays there regularly.

I remember, years ago, seeing the great Paul Delay play there. He was a big man and there isn’t much room for the band. He lit that place up like it was a Christmas Tree. The sweet sound of blues rang from that harmonica of his on a clear Summer night when the stars shined bright. We had drinks and danced to that man’s tunes until we couldn’t. He’s gone from us now and sorely missed, but I will never forget that night.

After more browsing and some water to clear the head, I got into my car and pulled out, headed for the freeway.

If you haven’t experienced Portland’s cool, creative Alberta Neighborhood, I hope you get a chance to someday. It is truly an artistic heaven that would be a cryin shame to miss.