Cat and Ben, How the Other Half Lives

After talking to Cameron, we had to find out what was happening with Cat and Ben, Cameron’s sister and brother-in-law, who live in the other half of the duplex they purchased together.

When we were looking to buy a home in 2005-2006, we knew we wanted to be located in a neighborhood where we could walk to lots of different places and have excellent mass transit options. Sullivan's Gulch was perfect, and in most ways it keeps getting better.

We both now work for an educational software company located in central Portland, and we love that we can walk to work together. Ben works as in-house counsel and Catriona helps with processes and tools for managing internal information and knowledge.

The oddest thing about buying a house in 2006 was how much money it was possible to borrow. In retrospect, it was a definite sign of the goofiness of the lending markets. We are very thankful that we didn't take the mortgage companies up on their offer of a giant loan!

We were looking at a wide variety of housing options, but a duplex was a great way to have affordable, centrally located housing in 2006. We had lived in the same apartment complex as Cat’s brother Cameron a few years earlier, and we could imagine the three of us talking through the various issues of co-ownership without too much difficulty.

One of our favorite pieces of furniture is our walnut dining room table made by Geek Chic. We purchased the table in 2010, and it makes us so happy. The table is beautiful and also has extra functionality for playing tabletop games. The center leaves can be removed to open up an interior surface for playing games, and we also have wood trays for managing cards and game pieces.

We primarily play newer games that have a combination of strategy and some luck. The most important part of playing games for both of us is to have a good time and play to the best of our abilities. If we're not having a good time, why bother? Not surprisingly, our friends have a similar attitude. Catriona's current favorite game is Firefly and Ben loves Twilight Struggle. We both enjoy Twilight Imperium, Race for the Galaxy, Pandemic, and many others.

Over the years we’ve done maintenance work, including new carpet, painting, and replacing some counters. We’re not sure what we'll need to tackle next.

Ben always had a dream to own a Hammond organ, and once we settled into the duplex, this was a great time to purchase one. We found it on Craigslist. After an exciting visit to a warehouse under the Fremont bridge full of hobbyists and collectors, we have our very own organ to noodle around on.

Office.jpg
Office2.jpg

I've written stories my entire life, but it always seemed like writing novels was beyond me. I had an opportunity last year to focus primarily on writing, and Taylor Rush came into being. Initially, I loved writing as Taylor because I could have some emotional distance from the work, and now I appreciate having a simple name as an author. And it's great fun to imagine being Taylor Rush!

My first three novels have very much focused on relationships and the various ways we can succeed (and fail) in our communication with each other. They take place in the near future in Portland, and I've quite fallen in love with my imaginary friends. I like the idea of exploring community in an urban environment, and living in Portland and Sullivan's Gulch in particular has been a great inspiration.

 All cover art by local artist  Heldáy de la Cruz

All cover art by local artist Heldáy de la Cruz

My first book follows Jules, a woman in her thirties, as she develops both romantic attractions and friendships. The first part of the book is set in an imaginary retirement and recovery center, mixing people of different ages and backgrounds. I liked thinking about how adults deal with being in close proximity to each other, and it was fun to think up a planned community that I would enjoy living in.

GF_finalcomp-01.jpg
Greywater Chronicle novels can be ordered on Amazon or at Taylorrushfiction.com

The second and third books are focused on Sam, a physical therapist we meet in the first book, and her boyfriend Wil. They make rather a hash of their relationship, but their lives keep looping around each other. I enjoyed exploring the rhythms living in a city. My favorite recurring event is an annual gala held in a building loosely based on the Tiffany Center in SW Portland—the same building where some of my high school dances were held.

Writing, editing, and promoting the books continues to be an exciting and challenging adventure. I found it really helpful to focus on writing full-time last year, but I'm glad to be back in the workforce, engaging other parts of my brain and staying socialized. I've been sorting out the balance between writing and working, and I'm curious to see how the balance will evolve.

I'm sure my future books will continue to explore similar themes (and my beloved Portland), but I'm looking forward to writing something completely different next. I've got a great love of science fiction and fantasy, and I think a new crew of friends may have to go on a quest involving dragons.

To jointly own property as we have, we’ve learned that excellent and frequent communication is essential. We had not fully thought through the possible impact of different desires for improvements and maintenance, or what happens if incomes change between the different owners. Fortunately, everything has worked out great, but we would only recommend this for people who have exceedingly good relationships with each other or a have a relationship that is purely business.

 Lloyd Center, 1963 Oregonian Archive photo. There were an additional 3,000 parking spaces under cover at the Lloyd Center at the time.

Lloyd Center, 1963 Oregonian Archive photo. There were an additional 3,000 parking spaces under cover at the Lloyd Center at the time.

Since the Lloyd district has been primarily office space and parking lots (other than the mall), the redevelopment to our west is great, from our perspective. Sullivan's Gulch has also had infill development over the decades (including our duplex!), so we moved to the neighborhood expecting things to change. We like dense urban living and alternative transportation, so the changes are generally good. Affordable housing is the biggest challenge.

 Proposal for Hassalo on Eighth

Proposal for Hassalo on Eighth

 Rendering for proposed Lloyd Center development.

Rendering for proposed Lloyd Center development.

While we suspect big changes will come to Broadway and Weidler at some point, those streets have actually changed very little compared to other major thoroughfares in Portland over the last ten years.


D. Larson, Editor