Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Portland Report reviews The Beach

Last weekend the lovely T and I headed north and west to Long Beach. That’s right, north and west, not south and west. We spent the weekend on the Long Beach, Washington peninsula.

A number of people warned me ahead of time that there is nothing to do in Long Beach, that there is no excitement, no arcades, no boardwalk, no stuff. That’s ok! I’m not much of a shopper in the first place, and I rarely feel the need for commemorative t-shirts or coffee mugs to serve as tangible evidence that I have been somewhere. So, I don’t mind if there aren’t very many tourist shops on the peninsula, in fact, all the better.

We went after Labor Day, so the tourist population was decreased anyway. There are two stoplights on the Peninsula. One is a blinking red light so that hardly even counts. Suffice it to say, there was no traffic to speak of. We escaped Portland early enough on Friday to dodge most of the outbound rush.

We stayed in a cottage on the main drag. It was small but cute and the bed was extremely comfortable. A funny thing about hotels in Long Beach is that most of them are not on the water. A few of the newer ones are and have the coveted ocean view, but the majority are along the main road or in little forest clearings. I didn’t see any that had the kind of beach frontage where you open your sliding glass door and walk out onto the sand. Of course, there may be some that I missed. I wasn’t there to do a comprehensive lodging review. The cottages we stayed in are for sale but I’ve never been tempted by the life of an innkeeper.

Saturday morning was cloudy and cool but we went to the beach anyway. We’re Pacific Northwesterners! A little moisture isn’t going to keep us indoors! We walked probably a half a mile down the sand and then just sat and watched the breakers. Mostly, it was to give the old dog a rest. We decided that we need to invest in one of those collapsible water bowls that places like REI have. The dogs were thirsty but had to wait until we got back to civilization for a drink.

The sun broke through and the clouds burned off by about noon. By then we had gone back to the cottage, watered the dogs, had a quick pee, and set off again for points north. We went up the ocean side as far as we could and spent some time looking at houses and lots that were for sale. Despite the economy being in the toilet, the prices were out of our range. Saw some beautiful lots with ocean views but 200K is not within our budget. While we were driving around we realized that we were in some kind of residential community. Not just a group of houses that are in the same vicinity, but the kind that requires memberships and dues. No thanks! That kind of thing puts me right off.

We fought our way free of the dreaded homeowners association neighborhood and headed over to the bay side of the peninsula. The Willapa Bay is beautiful! It’s huge, for one thing, and across the water are islands and mountains covered with fir trees. The sun was out and the water was sparkling. It was really lovely.

We drove around a little and found the charming town of Oysterville. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and they are doing a great job of maintaining it.

It is easily the most appealing town on the peninsula but very small and, unless you own an oyster bed, there is no work at all. Well, I would guess that just about anyone could get a job shucking oysters but that doesn’t really appeal to me. We stopped at a cannery with a retail shop and bought a small container of extra small oysters. We also got their own special brand of breading mix and, for a snack, some smoked salmon spread. So Delicious!

After that T wanted to head back into town but I insisted that we go to the end of the peninsula. Insisted! I wanted to see the end before we turned around. Here is where I realized that my camera was back in the room – we found the road that went as far as it could and sure enough, it said END. It was Washington SR 103.

Actually, you can’t go to the end of the peninsula. It’s a combination of state park and national wildlife refuge. There are hiking trails, though, and we took the shorter loop which skirts along the snowy plover breeding ground and then turns back through the forest. We wanted to take the longer hike which goes across the peninsula, down the ocean beach for half a mile and then back across the peninsula, but we had the old dog with us and there was no way she could have made it. I, for one, was not up to carrying her back to the car. As it was, we stopped and rested several times so that she wasn’t too badly tired out. We got back to the car and loaded up the dogs and I was ready to say, yes, we’ve gone as close to the end as possible.

We ate dinner at two different places. One might have been called Castaways and should have been cast away. Not worth the money. Everything tasted like it had been fried in stale oil. Yuck. The other place, 42nd Street CafĂ©, was fantastic. We skipped the sea food – T had county fried steak and I had the pork tenderloin. So damned good! Even the salad dressings were better than usual. I highly recommend it if you are ever searching for a delicious meal in Long Beach Washington.

And speaking of delicious, did I mention that those oysters were outstanding?! We took them home, carefully packed in ice in the cooler, and T pan fried them. Yum. Double yum! No tartar sauce for me, just lemon juice. Holy smokes, my mouth is watering right now!

Sunday was spectacular. The sun was out and not a cloud to be seen. We went back to the beach for another short stroll. It was shorter than we intended because the younger dog is an idiot. She went racing up to say hi to a family, wouldn’t listen when we called her back, and scared the crap out of the people. Well, she is a Rottweiler, so she’s pretty scary when she’s running right at you. It was mortifying. They can’t know that she is obnoxiously friendly. Sigh.

We packed it up and headed out of town. Bought some smoked salmon and smoked tuna before we left and have that to look forward to. Stopped at one of the two lighthouses on our way down the peninsula. What an isolated life that must have been. Cold, damp, remote. Brr… people could easily go crazy in those places.

Just before we crossed the Astoria bridge I insisted on one more scenic detour. There was a sign for “Dismal Nitch” and honestly, how could I resist? It’s only a rest stop now, but it was a place where Lewis and Clark got stranded for a while and uh, they didn’t like it so much. It’s really just a wide spot between the water and the steep mountain behind it. On a bright sunny day it’s fine, but I guess I can imagine foul weather and no nice warm Toyota to sit inside… Again, no camera, so the picture is from the interweb.

We had a grand time and I would definitely go back to the Long Beach peninsula.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Downtown Update

The Max Green line opened! Yay! This should be a great thing for people living in the further reaches of the metro area, to the north and east; and for anyone heading to PSU. This line runs from Clackamas Town Center to Portland State University. It opened this week and reportedly ridership is already quite high. Well, they tapped into a huge area so it should be filling right up.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the fact that 5th and 6th streets downtown are now nearly impossible to use in the car or on a bike. But, it’s a fair trade off to get all of those cars out of downtown so… I’m not complaining. Really.

Another tidbit of downtown observation: The long empty lot at 4th between Mill and Market streets is being developed. This is the lot bounded by St Mary’s school, St Michael the Archangel Church (site of R & N’s wedding), and the crazy, triangular high rise that B & K lived in briefly.

It has been a parking lot for years and years, and an odd one. The east edge of the parking lot is built up on a rock wall. It had a mysterious, boarded up doorway in the wall that looked like a portal to trouble. Last week a construction fence went up and this week the wall came down. The earthmovers are out there digging like mad. One really good thing: it looks like they are protecting the large, beautiful, copper beech tree that lives in the southeast corner of the lot. I don’t know what is planned for that block, but I hope that preserving the tree is part of the development.

One quick note about the bike commute: I rode down the Hill! It wasn’t as scary as I feared, of course. When I leave my building, the street drops quite sharply. I was riding my brakes down the hill, expecting to see smoke coming off them, but I was being passed by cyclists who were actually pedaling away. Wow! They must have been going 50 miles an hour! Not me, thank you very much. So, I got to the bottom in one piece, had to ride through part of downtown where there are no bike lanes, turned off 4th onto Salmon and rode out to the waterfront. From there, it’s the same commute home. Amazingly, it’s faster to ride down the hill and through downtown than it is to walk to and wait for the Tram.

That’s it for today folks! Hey, you see right below this text where there is a picture of a pen and the underlined words “0 comments”? If you click on the word comments, it opens up a little box where you can type a few words. Try it! I love comments! You can go back and read other people’s comments. It’s all part of the blogosphere…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Work related

So, the question on my mind today is: can I stick it out?

I am so tired of my job! I am so tired of artificial emergencies, of deadlines that are so important that all other work must be suspended ~ and then when the deadline passes, and the work isn’t done, nothing happens. So tired of management that has so little grasp on the workings of the department. Tired of being delegated to and not having enough staff to pass the delegated work on to. Tired of the world of healthcare in general, and the school of medicine in particular.

Maybe I’m just tired.

I don’t actually hate my job. Most of the time it’s just a job. Nothing special but nothing odious. Lately there has been an increase in the amount of work for us to do, which happens to coincide with a decrease in staffing. Not that I would have gotten any satisfactory work out of The Malingerer, but I could have shunted some of it her way. Now, every team member is working full tilt every day. But, more new and complex stuff keeps landing on our desks.

I’m 50 years old. I have 15 years of service in at the Hill. My plan at this point has been to work until I am 55, when I will have 20 years in and then retire from the Hill and get a part time job with benefits doing something completely different. Of course, I’d rather retire and not go to a job at all, but I’m not sure that’s going to be doable. My IRA was pretty much wiped out last year and while I still have PERS and Social Security… I don’t know. It’s a scary prospect. Let’s see, if I saved a hundred dollars a month for five years and hid it under my mattress… yep, I’d still be broke when I retired.

The thing of it is, if I were to change jobs, I’d be taking home less money, contributing less money to my retirement, paying more for benefits and getting less… all in all, not a good choice. So, yeah, I’ll be sticking it out here. Not because I like it, but because I like having a job that pays the bills. In today’s economy, that’s pretty good.

But, I’m still tired of it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bike Commute Update

I’ve done pretty well this week. I have ridden three out of four days; both directions. Whew!

I got a new seat for my bike, which is wonderful. It’s all wide and puffy and gel-filled (I’d say, just like my butt, except that I have a rather flat bottom – so, it’s more like my hips…). It makes a big difference. The next bike gadgets I will purchase are: a blinking reflector and a headlight. I had a headlight, the kind that has a little wheel that flips down onto your bike wheel and spins something inside and makes the lamp light up. I don’t know where it is, but if I can find it this weekend I’ll use it. Some things I would like to have but probably won’t invest in are: a bell, a rear view mirror and a basket. I’m leery of putting any money into a bike since I have had so many stolen. But, I’m going to a bike shop this weekend and who knows what I’ll leave with.

So, I’m pedaling along pretty steadily, but I have yet to pass another bicyclist. I probably never will. Sometimes I’m hard pressed to pass runners. Sometimes I see other riders like myself, you know, old, fat, out of shape, and they are cruising along at a much faster clip. I think it might be that the bike I’m riding is a “mountain” bike and might be geared lower. At least, I comfort myself with that thought. Yesterday, riding along the waterfront, there was a pretty good headwind blowing and I could really tell the difference. I was going slower than ever!

It’s still taking about the same amount of time to get home. I did figure out the time discrepancy that was bothering me last week though. It’s the danged Tram! Well, it’s the walk from my office to the Tram, waiting for the Tram, riding down the Tram, and then finally getting on my bike. It can easily be 15 or 20 minutes from my office to the street. I haven’t had the nerve yet to ride down the Hill. It’s really steep! I’m going to do it one of these days just to see if it is terrifying and to see how it affects my time. I’ll keep you posted!

One last thing: one morning this week I was just approaching the Steel bridge from the east side when the alarm sounded and the lights started flashing. The gates clanged shut and the lower section, the train track section, started going up. Ok, that’s not unexpected around here. There is plenty of shipping traffic on the Willamette. So I waited, and waited, and waited… a couple other bicyclists and pedestrians were waiting too. Eventually, all of the bike riders turned around and headed down the east bank to the Hawthorne bridge. As I was passing the Morrison a dredging barge came motoring down the river. It must have been up past the Ross Island bridge when they raised the Steel. Ridiculous! I was almost late for work! But, it did give me a chance to try out the east bank and the Hawthorne. I’m going to stick with the waterfront because it’s flatter.

Ok, that’s it for the bike update. A little long, thanks for bearing with me. In other news, the self defense class at Linfield College has started back up again and I have another great group of women. They are all very enthusiastic and willing to try stuff and are already hitting HARD! It’s going to be a great term.

Please feel free to comment… please!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Beautiful Morning

I rode my bike to work this morning and was rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. The sky was lit up with gold and orange and pink. As I rode along the waterfront, the river reflected the sky and the world was bathed in beauty. Mt Hood loomed dark against the coming morning, a sentinel overseeing eastern lands. I turned my head and saw the sunrise mirrored in the walls of glass downtown. Street lights flickered out, unable to compete with the dawn.

The sun followed the dramatic heralding, reaching under the low lying clouds. As it rose, the colors faded to white; day restoring vision to the ordinary. And, within minutes, it was a typical Northwest day, cloudy with a chance of showers. And tomorrow a chance at further glory.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekend Round-up

I took Friday off so that I had a four day weekend instead of just three. Greedy? No. Just needed a break. But it wasn’t all spent lying on the couch ignoring the world. Here’s what went down:

Friday ~ errands and a little shopping. My friend Peg came over and did some errands with me. Mostly just so that we could chat. T’s friend Chris came over and installed a printer. I went out to Lewis and Clark with Katherine, Abi and Annie. We were teaching a self defense course there on Sunday and wanted to see the room and figure stuff out ahead of time.

Saturday ~ No classes! The school was closed for the weekend. So instead I did a bunch of laundry and various household chores. Didn’t feel obligated to get anything done, which is a rarity. Watched a couple of movies. Mall Cop, which was silly and innocent and Fight Night, which was poorly written and woodenly acted. Bought a new seat for the bike and T put it on for me. Super comfy!

Sunday ~ Futzed around during the morning. Went back to Lewis and Clark to teach from 2 to 5. We were supposed to have 100 incoming freshmen women but only got 35 signed up. Of those, about half showed up for the course. Our goal is that next year it will be a requirement for all incoming fresh(wo)men.

Monday ~ went to Home Depot for supplies and then came home and insulated the floor of the sun porch – where the hot tub lives. Yeah, that’s a lot of fun, crawling around under a building with fiberglass insulation. OK, I’m not complaining because T did most of the crawling and I did most of the cutting. It felt good to get it done before the temperatures drop. We also got some Tyvek up on the outside of the porch. We hope to have the siding completed within a couple of weeks. I want it to blend into the rest of the house and not stick out like a sore thumb… as it is currently doing.

Now I’m back at work. Almost done for the day and I haven’t even caught up on my blog reading! Z has started a new blog about buying a house, and my good friend RR has started yet another “pop culture” blog. I’ve got to add those to my list.

Tonight I am teaching a class about Intimate Partner Violence. Also known as domestic violence, spouse abuse, etc. It’s pretty grim, but if people have information about it maybe, just maybe it will help them recognize it and strategize ways of escaping. The class I’m teaching tonight is at my martial art school so we have a captive audience there. This is part of my apprenticeship. We reach more people when we teach in the community. It’s good practice, though. I am wishing that I had more time to prepare, but I'm sure it'll go just fine. Send me some luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bike Update, etc...

Ok, I rode home again yesterday. Two things:

1) My butt hurts! I need a new seat, for sure. One of those wide, padded, “lady” seats. Oh yes I do. I got off the tram yesterday, tucked my pant leg into my sock and swung my leg over the bike. OUCH! When I sat down, I stood right back up. I had to ride a couple blocks putting most of my weight on the pedals until my butt bones stopped complaining. I’m taking Friday off and I’ll be shopping for a comfy seat that day.

2) My timing is off. I said that it took me 40 minutes the first day, well, it took 50 minutes the second day and that just can’t be right. I didn’t wander around in Riverplace, AND I rode up that short steep hill – which has to be faster than walking, right? I’m not sure how my timing got all wonky, but I’m still hoping to shave ten (or twenty) minutes off my time. I hope to get home in half an hour. I think I’ll be able to eventually.

So, part of my ride along the waterfront goes by a hangout zone for the homeless. It’s just a pleasant part of the park a little distance away from the businessy part of downtown (close to the Steel Bridge, by the cherry trees, if you know where I mean). Yesterday there were several people sprawled around in the grass and sitting on the benches. I noticed that there were also lots of pigeons taking a little rest there as well. I wondered, do the homeless ever catch and eat pigeons? They are certainly plentiful (I mean the birds), and surely, surely, they taste somewhat like chicken. But, then, I’ve wondered the same thing about squirrels. Why aren’t hungry people eating them? I’ve never had squirrel before but in my imagination it is a lean, dark meat. I asked T what she thought about that and she said, “Why go to all that trouble when you can panhandle a dollar and go to Wendy’s for a crispy chicken sandwich?” She does have a point there.

In other news, the concert tickets that we won are for tonight. Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal at the Edgefield! Very much looking forward to it! Gates open at 5, general admission seating on the grass, so we’ll be there on time. Really, really hoping that the rain holds off until tomorrow!

I will try to get some blogging in over the weekend, but you know how I am about turning on the computer at home… I’d much rather take advantage of this super fast work connection. If I don’t hear from you, and I hope I do, have a great holiday weekend! And Lisa, rest up for next week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bike Commute Challenge

Yay for me! I rode my bike home from work yesterday for the first time!

So, we’ve got this thing called the Bike Commute Challenge. Maybe it’s going on in your town? Maybe it’s just an Oregon thing… Different businesses compete to have the greatest percentage of employees riding their bikes to work during the month of September. I don’t think you win anything but bragging rights, and all of the actual benefits like better health, less pollution, etc.

For the past year and a half I have been carpooling with T. Since her last layoff, however, she has just been driving me to work and picking me up. I know, I know, how very wasteful that is! I have been talking about riding my bike to work but hadn’t gotten up the courage or motivation to do it. The bike challenge was the impetus I needed.

I had T drop me and my bike off yesterday and today. I feel ok about that. It cut the car commute in half. Next week I aim to ride both directions.

It’s only 5 miles from my house to my work, but it’s through the city, across the river and up a steep hill. Truth be told, I’m not doing the steep hill – not up or down it. Instead, I’m taking the tram up and down. It just feels safer and more doable for me. I made it home in 40 minutes yesterday, which is about 20 minutes faster than the bus. I know I’ll be able to shave a good 10 minutes off that time; I wasted a few minutes riding around one neighborhood looking for the bike path. Also, there’s one short but steep hill that my legs weren’t up to yesterday. It’s only 2 or 3 blocks long but I walked my bike up it yesterday. By next week I hope to ride the whole thing.

It really felt great to be getting home via my own power. Empowering! I’ve walked home before and that felt pretty good, too, but zipping along on my bike was great. And, the whole time I was pedaling I was thinking about how much better my pants would fit in a few weeks. I haven’t been working out for quite a while now and I have gained an unacceptable amount of weight and I just don’t feel good. This will definitely improve my physical and mental well-being.

The unknown so far is how the weather will affect my commute. Portland is known for the rainy weather, and it’s coming. I’m going to check out some rain pants and see if I can stick it out in the upcoming wet weather.

Wish me luck!

First off, I'd like to say


As you may remember, I had a blog on LiveJournal some time ago. I have pretty much abandoned it since no one ever read it and I didn't feel like blogging. But, lately I have had too many words rumbling around in my head and I have felt the need to write them down and force let others read them. Lucky you!

My intention is still to write about the East side of the Willamette River in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Occasionally, the west side will get a mention. Sometimes it will be work related, sometimes real estate, often it will be about my lovely neighborhood, Sullivan's Gulch. Expect me to wax on about flowers in the Spring; to grumble about rain in the Winter (Fall, and Spring); to marvel rhapsodically about the River; to mutter darkly about my employer.

I'm keeping the format simple so that I don't distract you with bells and whistles. There may be an occasional photo to illustrate whatever point I am making, but by and large, this will be a word place.

Feel free to bookmark this page and check back often. And, please comment! You know that I love a lively exchange! I will be taking a page from our good friend RR's book and emailing you all when I have something to post. Just want to be sure that you are paying attention! If you have a suggestion for a post -- send it in!

I think that's it for now, folks. Thanks for humoring me.