During the move, I somehow lost my stainless steel water bottle, thermo bottle and favorite (one and only) mug from Sur la Table. I must be pretty bummed out about it, because I keep catching myself saying out loud, “how do you lose stuff like that, Joy Cha?” just randomly in the middle of a hike or a drive or while working.

And that pretty much sums up what I’ve been up to since the move – hike, drive and work, not particularly in that order. Driving is worth mentioning, just because I am now in somewhat of a detached area, making any drive to anywhere, even to a market, a bit of a commute compared to the walkable convenience of East Burnside. However, there definitely are some trade offs. So far, I’ve spotted some less common birds. Heard the great horned owl hooting and sqwacking, which made me realize that there are great horned owls in Los Angeles mountains too and I just didn’t know what I was hearing when I was there. I’m waiting for the black tailed deers to come by my window, but I’m afraid the invisible fences that the neighbor has set up is working a bit too well for that to happen. I’m sure, though, that one of these early morning trail runs will have me encounter a spirited animal. Hopefully a fox or an elk. I love it up here.

I’ve been making a lot of new jewelry and taking them to Portland Saturday Market. Typically, new items would be featured on my etsy site or website first, but it hasn’t been the case during the busy summer months at the market. So I’ve been playing catching up as of late. I want all my new items to be online in time for holidays. Please feel free to check them out and contact me for a discount code.

And that’s all she wrote.

It’s been well over eight months since I moved to Portland from Southern California. I drove up here right before Christmas and settled into one of the brand new apartments in Central East Portland. For those of you who are not familiar with Portland, the city is generally organized in directional quadrants – Willamette River divides east and west; Burnside Street divides north and south. My studio was on East Burnside Street.

Top priority for picking a place to live was walkability. I knew I was going to be alone a lot in a foreign city, and thought the best way to manage my sanity would be to be in a lively neighborhood. I found exactly that.


I had frequently stepped out from my tiny yet efficiently laid out studio with all the amenities one could possibly hope for, onto the restaurant row of NW 28th. The loneliness that would hover over me like a dense cloud would diffuse almost instantaneously as I made my way through this pretty little strip to a charming gelato shop at the end for a child-sized-single-scoop sweetness. By the time I got back, I would be in a completely different frame of mind. I had a lot of gelato this year.


Portland as a city is like one big secret garden where every turn promises a new discovery. Or maybe I think that way because I’m still relatively new here. Lone Fir Cemetery was one of those discoveries.

My main form of exercise is running. And it was one of those mornings out for a run that I came upon this historic site. Many of the city’s original key players are buried here. What made it novel for me wasn’t just the history, but was also the trees — the old, old trees that have witnessed way more than my imagination could conjure up from both six feet under and many above. I ran through this grave yard almost every morning during the flowering season of March and April, just to see the towering bare trees of many different varieties filling up with budding leaves and blossoms. I found profound comfort and even healing from my recent losses as I wove through rows of love-lost, grief and tears that were now muddied dust under my feet and heartbreakingly beautiful spring glory over my head.



After making about a half mile in Lone Fir, I would run further east to Laurelhurst Park. I call it my mini-Central-Park. It is just as beautiful with winding running paths along spacious grass patches and imposing Oregon firs. There’s a decent sized pond that attracts all kinds of water fowls, a lot of them mallards. One morning, I saw a bunch of ducks and Canadian geese floating about together as one big group. I looked up to find a bald eagle circling above. That’s Portland for ya.




If I wanted a three mile run, I’d turn back toward home from Laurelhurst Park. If I felt up for more, I’d run further south to Belmont, Hawthorne and Division. By running through these hip neighborhoods, I realized that there is so much more that the east side has to offer than the west, contrary to what I once had thought before the move.



Oh, and for a while there, I was obsessed with this silhouette of crows on winter trees. Portland drivers are patient, rarely ever honks just to show you that they are annoyed, but I got them to honk at me a number of times by slowing down my car drastically just to get a good look at the sight of this. I still don’t know why this visual captivates me so much.


So, let’s talk about this little fantasy that I had before moving to Portland. It was one of those “I wish I could…” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” sorta things. I had this little wishful thought, a vision even, of me living in the dense woods where I could work hours and days in isolated silence (I LOVE silence) that’s remote yet easily accessible from the city center. A place where I can ride my mountain bike on real mountain trails and run every morning in the forest. As my eight-month lease expired, an artist retreat in the woods somewhat magically appeared. Well, I saw an ad, and responded (haha), but the timing of it and how smoothly everything worked out felt like a dream-come-true of sort.

I’m hoping to accomplish much out of this new place. I feel very lucky and can’t wait to get working. I am also somewhat fearful that things might not work out here as I have never lived in an environment like this. I guess only time will tell.


Life on Burnside definitely felt like urban living with my loft style apartment windows opening up to nerve-scraping noises of semi trucks negotiating their way into the Coca Cola plant loading dock. I pretty much lived on the shipping yard this year. However, it also felt rural in comparison to Los Angeles, because it is a smaller city after all, with quaint, covered outdoor basketball courts and community gardens sprinkled through out the town. This picture below in particular shows both.

This summer, I took a lot of “little walks” along the walls of these gardens sampling varieties of berries and cherry tomatoes that hung over the fences.


Moving is tiring and stressful, to do it in the frequency that I have done in these three years can also feel a little traumatic. Truthfully, I’m getting tired of nomadding about. Being alone a lot has gotten me in the habit of just letting myself cry. Sometimes I let myself completely fall apart for hours. Who cares, no one’s watching, right? Then I’d consciously tell myself to get a grip and carry on. And that I do. And I’m okay and goofy again for another few months.


So there you have it. A lot of work came out of this little space. That corner over there is a bedroom-nook. After cleaning up on the last night here, I cried a little. I’m going to miss living here, this neighborhood – the random jaunts to Wholefoods across the street in the middle of the night and the charming coffee shops in just about every corner. I’m going to miss my next door neighbor Sarah, another SoCal transplant. She’s become an awesome friend and she’s already on my calendar to come over and hang out in my new place, but you know, there’s nothing like just walking over and knocking on the door. Take a bottle of wine to the rooftop lounge to talk away the night – mostly about LA. A couple of “snooty Angelenos.” If you’re a wine drinker and a good conversationist, you have a huge potential for becoming dear to my heart. Sarah’s more of a beer person but is also a good sport and allowed me to pour some wine for her on many beautiful Portland summer nights on the Eastside.

Goodbye~ I will be in touch from the woods.


I’ve been feeling like a teenager who has a lot raging inside. It’s pretty obvious, but when asked if something was wrong, the answer is always a dull, lifeless, monosyllabic “no.”

Well, nothing is really “wrong.” It’s just that it’s that time of the year when you need to plan well and start gearing up for the biggest shopping season that is November and December. With the outdoor markets and festivals in place this year, I’m not quite sure how to prepare for it. Every year there is a new wrinkle to this “business.” By now you must be tired of reading that I want a team of people to work with only to go back on it and say I want to be left alone. Ever since I started Portland Saturday Market, I feel perpetually fatigued because of the physical toll that it takes on my body. I used to think that I manage my time fairly well, but these days I can’t seem to escape that sinking feeling that I’m not doing enough, because quite frankly, there is way too much to do for one person. Yes, stressed out.

……………………….Okay. There. I’m done complaining……………………..

This is a post just to say that I’m still here. A little lost, even. Nah, deep inside I know what to do. This is that antsiness before the big dive. It’s sort of like dreading to run a race that you know you’ve trained hard for.

So, hang out here for a bit while more. The best is yet to come.


I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of driving along Columbia River on I-84 into nature, beauty and adventure. This summer especially feels endless, because of the heatwave that started as early as June, which is very unlike Portland, so the people say.

Summer also seems to be time for visitors. My August already looks pretty full with things to do with friends from out of town. August. Is it already August?

It always seems that once you get past the first quarter, the remaining year just picks up speed on its own and whirls away super fast out of your grip. Each week is like that too in a way. I feel most relaxed on Sunday and Monday, but as soon as Tuesday rolls around, I feel as though I got thrown into a mad mess of filling orders, making inventory and meeting deadlines.

I am looking forward to this fall and winter. There will be recognizable changes on many levels. Some are already taking shape. I will share more about them as they happen.

I have been thinking a lot about what I do. I’m coming to a conclusion that I will probably never be an owner of a sizable company, even if such an opportunity comes my way. I tend to be solitary. I value freedom and mobility. Commitment to any entity – an organization or otherwise – would be a huge deal. For me, the idea of “growth” may never mean having many people to work together with. Increasing volume will have its limit even if I become prolific. Convergence. Proliferation. I have a feeling these things will happen all at once. Right now, I’m still wearing multiple hats and very much involved in designing for Disney even as I’m painting and honing my skills in metal-smithing. I often feel like I lack focus and question if I’m asking too much of myself. But then again, I’m free as a bird. I have no attachments, no kids, not even pets… Why not, right? Why not go the distance?

I hope everyone is having a great summer…wherever you are.


If death was a door–in a symbolic way, it is—but if it is not a violent or painful act, but could be carried out as simply as by entering, I think I might be very tempted to open that door.

At some point between when my beautiful little beast woke me up in the middle of the night with a harrowing cry because she was no longer able to get herself up on her old and frail four, and when all the numbers on the monitor that was hooked up to my dad in St. Vincent Hospital rapidly dropped as he slipped away into the unknown before my eyes, a great storm erupted within me. And I still have no command over it.

Since then and now, I’ve learned that there is a whole lot more than meets the eye as far as human existence goes. We smile. We laugh. We go about our business as usual, but really, underneath it all, what is going on?

Moody, sensitive, dark, depressed… If these traits make up an artistic temperament, I think I’m some of them, but not all of them. Even though I can’t seem to escape this manic grip within, I know that there also is an incredible amount of light in this same being that wakes me up everyday and gets me on my feet, helps me put on my clothes, smile and carry on. Obviously, most days, the light wins.

My hat’s off to you who figured out how to live this thing called life. I wholeheartedly concur with you who might judge me for my weakness, because I know that my circumstances are not so exclusively special. We all deal with it, Joy, whatever it is. You’re not the only one.

I will show up. I will show up mulishly to do my part whether it amounts to anything or not. I will hold my own in this “Great Big Storm,” thank you, Mr. Ruess.

Just like the poet who stopped by woods on a snowy evening, I too have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

No need to rush. The door will always be there. This we know for sure.


“Benjamin Pratt is a fucking prick!!!”

I thought I was dreaming when I heard that and opened my eyes to see 1:25AM on the alarm clock. And then quickly gathered that a couple of very drunk men were having a major Benji-bashing session right outside my studio windows, all the while blowing pot smoke into my apartment. They went on in full pitch for another good 20 minutes or so, as I sat there in the dark corner typing and then deleting, typing and then deleting “911” on my iPhone, unsure whether this situation was cop-worthy or not. Why do people yell when they’re drunk? Eventually, they left but took my night’s rest with them. Sleep robbery, is there such a crime? That was this morning.


It’s been quite an adjustment, these bright summer nights of Pacific Northwest. The record-breaking heat wave got me leaving the windows open when I go to bed, which in turn made me realize that a lot goes on at nights just outside my windows – from which these double-paned, energy-efficient, newly-installed Portland windows have obviously been sheltering me. Needless to say, the heat, the noises and the PNW night lights made a good night’s rest a very elusive thing for me lately.

After tossing and turning for a while, I gave up, got up, made coffee and then got the day rolling. It turned out to be a good thing, because I got to get a nice little 5-miler in before the rest of the neighborhood woke up.

I thanked the trees and summer flowers as I ran. Yeah, Portland has hot days too, but it also has these tall old trees and beautiful flowers, ever so soothing and refreshing. I’m already looking forward to fall.



I have been consistently running 5 miles when I go out for a run as of late. It’s been fun to run in different direction each morning, discovering parts of my neighborhood that I haven’t seen before. It also helps me organize my thoughts and come up with a mental list of things to do for the day. As always, there is a lot going on. I have some out-of-town art festivals coming up in the near future. And the First Thursday in the Pearl is in full swing now, for which I have a seasonal spot. (Come out and say hello, if you’re in Portland.) It will be a busy summer of making, painting and selling. The big hustle.

I’ve been working on a commissioned project all week. It’s coming along beautifully. I feel like I owe it to running.

I’m seriously wishing for a quiet night tonight. Although, judging from how things had been, I doubt that my wish will come true. Hopefully, I’d be too tired to notice or care.

Freaking Benjamin Pratt… Why does he have to be such a prick?



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