Greetings, doves, on a lovely late afternoon in Portland! The Shirelles' "Baby, It's You" is drifting on the breeze through the open window and I'm content. The rest of my time in Vancouver was blissful (I loaded up on "Honey Trap" lipgloss and jasmine bar shampoo at Lush, and was delighted to discover it's possible to watch Feist/Broken Social Scene videos on television for an hour straight in Canada). In Seattle, I stayed at the Ace Hotel, in a room so well laid out that it took me half an hour to notice it had no windows-- the private patio and clear glass wall that doubled as a divider between the bed and the shower were ample compensation. I spent a morning at the Seattle Art Museum, lingering over El Greco's "Lady in a Fur Wrap" and Manet's "Gypsy with a Cigarette" (1862) in the "Impressionists and the Art of the Past" show currently on exhibition. To the extent that a city can be measured by the quality of its cafes, few can stand up to comparison with Seattle. It's a sprawled-out place, but once I got over the fact that I couldn't walk everywhere I wanted to go, things took on a more poetic and romantic quality the longer I lingered in any one place. Picking up James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime at Elliott Bay Book Company certainly helped conjure the mood. I was delighted to discover that Amy Winehouse-eque bouffants are popular, especially among women who work in restaurants and coffeeshops (the arbiters of style everywhere). I enjoyed memorable meals at Salumi and Black Bottle, and relished langorously hanging out at Bauhaus and Zeitgeist. Right now I'm headed out the door with Jami Attenberg, my stunningly gracious (and simply stunning) host here in Portland, to her reading tonight at Plan B. If you're in town, y'all come!