Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Greeting Cards

Does anyone send holiday greeting cards anymore?  Also known as Christmas cards?  Do you?

I remember when Lisa lived with us and between her set of friends and acquaintances and mine we had dozens and dozens of cards.  Not a day would go by in December without a card or several in the mailbox.  I have a box of small, gold colored paper clips that I used to string together and pin up along the wainscoting.  We would hang the cards along this shiny garland.  In the heyday of cards we would have the whole living room swagged with holiday greetings.

This year, I have received five so far.  Five.  Sadly, one of them is from the store where I bought my bike!  It's pretty, though, so I'm keeping it up.  There are too few to string up the paperclip chains so they are sharing the mantel with some other decorations.  There's plenty of room for the five of them!  In the old days, only the photo cards were on the mantel.

In case you were going to ask, yes, I did send out cards.  Not as early as Miss Georgiana, whose card arrived the day after Thanksgiving, but early-ish in the month.

Is this just a thing of the past?  Are the days of sending cards made of paper through the postal service over?  If so, that's kinda sad.  It's a holdover from the time before email.  It's hard to display an e-card on the mantel.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sparkle Plenty

No, I’m not talking about our cat, or the Dick Tracy character, or the chandelier cleaner.  I’m talking about holiday sparkle lights!  Also known as twinkle lights, or fairy lights if you hail from the UK.  Or, I suppose, Christmas lights.

I don’t refer to them as Christmas lights because I keep mine up year round.  I use them in lieu of a porch light.  They are cheerful and colorful and keep the dark at bay in a very pleasant way. 

What is the purpose of lights?  A rhetorical question, yes, but with a point.  The purpose of lights is to dispel the dark.  Why do we put up colorful, sparkly lights in the depths of winter?  To remind ourselves that the light will return and the dark will diminish.  That is the source of many ancient winter traditions that persist to the present day under the guise of religion.

I used to take the lights down at the end of the holiday season, but then I kept stretching the season further and further until it snapped.  I always left them up until the spring equinox.  It just felt sacrilegious and a little like tempting fate to take them down too soon.  And, after a while I thought, well, why am I taking them down at all?  They are pretty and they make me happy, so I’m leaving them up!

Several years ago Lisa’s friend Cindy was visiting.  I think it must have been in February or early March.  We picked her up from the airport in the evening and as we rounded the corner onto our street, she piped up, laughing, and said, “There’s someone who can’t let go of the season!”  We grinned as pulled into the driveway.  She was embarrassed but I reassured her that almost everyone found my attitude about lights irritating.

As December unfurls more lights are coming on all over the neighborhood.  My across the street neighbor put his up on Thanksgiving weekend – yay Mr Denson!  House by house the street grows brighter and more cheerful as the days grow shorter and darker. 

I’ve only got my usual porch lights on so far, but this weekend I’ll get out there and string more up on the house and in the shrubbery.  Bring on the extension cords!

How about you?  Do you have any sparkle lights up?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Downtown views

So, it's dark out there before 7am.  You may not have noticed that, since few people get up as early as I do.  Oh, I'm not complaining (much).  At least, not about your habit of sleeping later than me.  My point, and I do have one, is that it's hard to observe a lot of the changes that happen in our fair city when you can't see it because it's too dark.  Or too rainy.

However!  Traveling up the newly reformatted transit mall on the old Number 8, I can make out a few indistinct shapes in the gloom.  One thing I have seen and think is pretty cool is a coffee stand.  I can just hear you now ~ Wow! A coffee stand!  In Portland, of all places!  Ok, ok, quit with the sarcasm.  It's not that there is a coffee stand, it's the stand itself that caught my eye.

Do you remember those curvy, mushroom shaped bus shelters that spoke so eloquently of the '70's?

By the '90's, most were closed up and vandalized with just a few left functioning along the bus mall.  In the past decade they have almost all been replaced by the new variety of streamlined, hi-tech style bus shelters.

Well, along 5th Avenue, between Madison and Jefferson (I think) is one of the old bus shelters that has been converted to a coffee stand.  It looks quite cozy and cheerful!  The funny thing is, I think it was moved to this location expressly to be a coffee stand.  I don't think it was there before.  At any rate, I can't locate it on Google street view at its current location.  Interesting, no?  Yes, I thought so too.  This might need some further investigation!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes we are out and about

Blue Sky Gallery, on the North Park Blocks.  What a fantastic installation!

Photo courtesy: tlc

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Observations from the commute

Ok, it's dark out when I go to work, but I do catch a glimpse of a few things.  Most recently, the absence of a thing.

Do you remember the auto shop parking lot in old town, on the corner of 5th and Glisan?  It's kitty-corner across from the back of the Greyhound bus terminal.  Directly across from a homeless shelter.  I believe that it has changed owners and apparently the new owners are not *art* lovers.  Or, they needed the space.

Missing from the lot is a large (and by large I mean about 15 to 20 feet tall) metal sculpture of a hand.  Reaching skyward, was it beseeching the heavens for alms?  Was it showing us the way?  Come to think of it, what the hell shape was it in?  My first thought was that it was reaching upwards, then I thought no, it was a fist.  Now I think it might have been an 'a-ok'.  Frustratingly, I can't find a picture of it on the interwebs.  Why don't one of you faithful readers refresh my memory... one of the two of you ought to remember!  Please comment!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blog Blast for Peace

Dona Nobis Pacem

From my family to yours...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Like Our Bikes!

Helen Meets Mr Darcy

Our friend Chris rode her new bike over last weekend to watch some football with us.   Look how pretty Mr Darcy is!  He and Helen look very well together!  That's Helen on the right, with the basket.

They both have the green/brown color scheme and are very close in color.

We like our bikes!  Well, in my case it's love...


Monday, November 1, 2010

Update from Hawthorne

Just a quick update to let you know that the new New Seasons market on Hawthorne has opened.  Instead of going with the model used by Whole Foods in the Hollywood District, ie: retail on the ground floor and several floors of condos above; the new New Seasons went with the old Fred Meyer model, ie: retail on the ground floor and parking on the roof.  But, wait!  I can hear your cries of outrage already!  What about a green roof?!?!  I mean, this is Portland, people! 

I’ll have to examine this further.  I can’t tell what they are doing with their runoff water.  But, by gum, I’ll find out.

Oh, and I haven’t actually been in the store yet.  They do claim to be the friendliest alternative grocery store in town though, so maybe they won’t mind my urgent questions about green roofs too terribly much.

I’ll let you know, because you shouldn’t have to wait with bated breath for too long.

The Ol' Number 8

I rode the bus to work today.  No, that is not headline worthy news, it’s just that it’s been a while, a long while, and I noticed something that I thought I would share with you all.  I see that as part of my job.

The route has changed!  Yes, it still goes to the Hill.  But it gets there a different way and I was not prepared for that. 

My guess is that the route change is related to the new Green line Max that goes to PSU.  I think that stirred up a few changes on the downtown transit mall.

So, cut to the chase already! 

Back in the days of yore, the number 8 would come up the transit mall on 5th, turn right on Jefferson, and left on Broadway (A pointless aside: it used to turn on Clay).  It would pass Portland State and continue up the street, crossing the 405 freeway and slipping downhill two or so blocks to turn right on 6th (which becomes Terwilliger).

Now, the new route goes up 5th ALL THE WAY TO THE FREEWAY!  AND THEN ACROSS IT!  I know!  It’s astounding!  After crossing the freeway, the bus bears to the left where 5th, Broadway and Barbur are all muddled together, and then turns right on Carruthers.  It goes one block and then turns left on 6th and motors on up the hill.

I realize that this bus route change is insignificant in any measure of, well, anything, but never let it be said that the Portland Report wasn’t staying on top of the insignificant. 

No squirrels or goats were observed on this ride.  Probably because it was dark out.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I hate the word 'webinar.'  I get that it's a portmanteau of web and seminar, and that it might be more efficient to say one word rather than two, but I still hate it.  It just sounds uncomfortable.

What words bug you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Visual evidence!

So, you think I'm making up these marvelous stories, eh, Mr RR? Check out these photos from The Oregonian:

Yes, those are goats!

I read the story today (10/13/10) in The Oregonian, front of the Metro section.  As I was reading it I thought, I wonder if RR reads the local rag in addition to his east coast paper?  I had been at work about an hour when I received a telephone call from the man himself confirming that he had read the paper and had to concede that, yes, this shit is true!

Remember, you saw it here first!  The Portland Report is ahead of the curve, people!  We are on the street, checking out our little slice of heaven and reporting back to you, our faithful readers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today's commute

I took a different route to work this morning. I'm glad I did! It wasn't a great commuting route, but it gave me a big smile.

I was heading east on SE 11th towards Madison and the Hawthorne Bridge. I passed Morrison and Belmont, and along that stretch before Madison there is a vacant lot. Actually, it might be an entire block. I think there was a warehouse there a few years ago that burned down. You know, by Grand Central.

Anyway, it's a vacant lot now and full of weeds and grass and blackberries. As I rode by, some movement caught my eye. I looked over and there was a flock of goats noshing on the grass and weeds! Little pygmy goats, at least a dozen of them, maybe as many as twenty.


I've heard of goats for clearing land before, but I've never seen any in Portland. And, man, we can use them on the blackberries!

Go little grazers, go!


How to use Google Reader

Do you ever log onto the computer, open up the internet, look at your favorites list and think, “I wonder if anyone has posted something new on their blog? But, I don’t want to go through and check every single one! I wish there was a way to see just the updated ones…” Well, there is a way! It’s called Google Reader.

Oh, one thing before we get started. I’m using Google Chrome, and I suggest that you do as well. All of these directions are for Google Chrome.

Do you have a Gmail account? Get one. Just go to Google and create an account. It’s easy and if you don’t know how, call me and I’ll walk you through it. Once you have your account, open up Gmail. Under the very top toolbar, there is a space with various Google applications; Calendar, Web, etc. One of these is Reader. Go ahead and click on it! It opens up a new window.

On the new screen, right under the colorful “Google reader” in the upper left corner, there is a button that says, “Add a subscription.” When you click on it, it opens a box where you type in the url (address) of the blog you want to follow. You can follow blogs from blogspot or wordpress, or any other blog host. If the blogspot blogs you read have a ‘follow’ button, clicking on that will automatically put that blog in your reader.

Now that you have a blog or two entered into your reader, close it up. Tomorrow when you do your daily email check, click on Reader in the top tool bar. It pops open and if there is a new post on one of the blogs that you follow, it will open in the reader window. You can either read the post there, or click on the name of the blog and it will take you there – convenient for commenting!

Google reader can do many other things, but this is a handy tool for quickly browsing fresh content on the blogs you love… like mine!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I swear I thought I saw...

a squirrel riding a raft down the Willamette River yesterday. A little raft, just a squirrel sized raft. No paddle, no sail, just a couple of pieces of wood lashed together.

I wonder; where was he going?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September is Bike Commute Challenge!

I participated last year, but this year I am committed to riding 100% of the month. I rode about half of July and all but one day in August, and so far I have ridden every work day in September. I was wavering one morning last week when the rain was pouring down but one of my coworkers texted me and asked if she could ride with me. What could I say? “Meet me at Multnomah and 16th.” And off we went into the watery world of the Pacific Northwest.

Here are just a few observations from my ride.

I don’t wear makeup and it’s a good thing. The morning of the downpour I reached up to wipe the streaming rain off my chin and could feel the moisturizer running down my neck.

It’s good to wear contacts in the rain. Without windshield wipers for your glasses, it’s a pretty blurry ride.

Men don’t have enough opportunities to wear skin-tight clothing. The fully outfitted, spandex-clad gear heads make up a large part of the biking public around here. I have noticed that men particularly like to wear those full-on bike outfits; you know the ones, with the sport logo jerseys and the skin-tight pants. When they are walking their bikes through a pedestrian area, they can often be seen stroking their legs and prancing just a little. I believe that they like the feel of their legs encased in smooth, clingy fabric. If men were ‘allowed’ to wear clingy fabrics in their every day lives, they would be more likely to bike in ordinary clothes.

I love my bike. Love, love, love my bike. LOVE. MY. BIKE!

My bike is the most elegant thing I own. I don’t wear elegant clothes; I don’t drive an elegant car… when you look at me you are more likely to think ‘practical’ rather than elegant. But my bike, ahh, she is lovely. I’ve named her Helen M*rren because she is elegant, beautiful and tough (and sessy!). She is a Trek Allant, the green women’s version. She has two full fenders, which are essential in this climate. She came with a frame for a front basket and I have found one that suits her just right. My mom is going to give me her collapsible rear baskets but I am hesitating to put them on because I don’t want to mar her beauty. I will put them on eventually though. It’s that practical side of me coming out.

I feel strong when I stand up and pedal. I feel strong and young(ish) and urban. I thought it would be terrifying to ride in downtown traffic but it is not. I feel quite capable and savvy wheeling through the city streets.

I love going fast and taking a corner leaning into the angle. Well, as long as there is not too much gravel on the street.

I wear my helmet all the time, even though I would really rather not.

I don’t think I have lost any weight, dang it, but my thighs are definitely thinner. Those little pouchy saddlebags on the sides are dwindling.

I am kind of a slow rider; I rarely pass anyone. But that’s ok with me. I’m not training for the Tour d’France.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


We spent a pleasant hour this morning counter-protesting the idiots from Westb*ro Baptist Church. They were picketing at Grant high school and I'm not taking that lying down. What a bunch of lunatics! All they've done is mobilize the sane people to take a stand against them. And, just before Pride!

My camera is misbehaving lately, so I only have a blurry phone picture. I'm gonna look for some pictures online, because Portland can be pretty colorful when it comes to gay protests.

That's me with the sign saying, "Don't be a HATER".

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She is 26! She is a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, lovely person. I miss her every single day.

I don’t get to see her today so instead I am going to have dinner with my parents and we’ll toast her on her special day and bemoan the fact that she doesn’t live closer. I’m going to visit her in early May and I can’t wait.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl! I love you more than all the rain in the Pacific Northwest; more than all the soybeans in Iowa; more than all the fruitcake in California! You are the best thing about my life.

Yr mama

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sandy Boulevard

Dear Readers ~ please accept my apologies for abandoning you for so long! Tempus keeps fugiting, ever faster, and blog posts go unwritten. Sigh. I’ll try to do better!

What prompted me to sit down and put fingers to keyboard is the insanity that the city has undertaken at the complicated intersection of E Burnside, Sandy Boulevard, and 12th. It’s always been difficult and has needed some tweaking, but the tweak is going too far!

First, you have to understand that this intersection is part of the famed “Secret Back Way” to get from close in East side to the southern end of downtown (or, in my case, my place of employment). To throw a wrench into my commute is beyond aggravating. Nobody asked how I felt about this!

Work on the project started some weeks/months ago, but we just figured they were working on the sewer project ~ which seems to happen all over Portland, all the time. We didn’t think anything about it when they installed a concrete divider between the east and west bound lanes of Sandy; that just seemed like a safety precaution. We became slightly suspicious when large lighting/signal poles went up. Before we knew it, the street was blocked off and detour signs steered us away from our accustomed path. We still thought it was temporary. And then we discovered that they were closing Sandy permanently! No!

I’m not sure how this is going to work out long term. On the west bound route, one must now turn right onto Couch, left onto 12th, and then right onto Sandy or Burnside. In the east bound direction, one may turn right onto Burnside or left onto 12th. If we choose the right, we need to go either a couple of blocks up and make a left and work our way back to Sandy, or go up to 20th and turn left. Unfortunately, 20th is usually jam-packed during commute hours. If we choose to turn left at the intersection, we can go up 12th past Benson high school and either turn right on Irving or cross the freeway and take the swooping street behind Lloyd Center and turn right on Multnomah. It’ll take a little getting used to, that’s for sure.

I had planned to do a series of posts about Spring unfolding in the Northwest, but I got sidetracked by daily life. I still have plenty to write about in the floral realm, but there are other topics that beckon as well. Hang in there with me! I’m getting back on track!

Monday, February 1, 2010

From the Northern reaches of the Realm

I drive out to the St John’s neighborhood three times a week and am pretty familiar with the goings on along my route. Well, I try to pay attention to my surroundings anyway. So, Saturday, as I drove through the Overlook neighborhood, I noticed that the long established tavern on the corner of Greeley and Killingsworth had changed its name. For as long as I can remember it has been Yorgo’s. How could one not remember that name?! It’s just different enough that it sticks in the brain. I invented a big Greek family to run the place, because whether or not the name is Greek, it sounded like Greek to me.

Last year Oregon passed a law requiring bars and taverns to be smoke free. That meant that all the bars and taverns that had diehard smoker clientele built little covered patios for their patrons. This happened at Yorgo’s, like everywhere else, but it seems to have been the beginning of the end. They only finished that patio a couple of months ago, and now, BOOM. New name!

And, how’s this for uninspired: Greeley Avenue Bar and Grill. The thing that’s funny to me about the name is that the tavern is actually on Killingsworth rather than Greeley… but no one wants to saddle their place with a name that is synonymous with the ghetto. Lots of bad stuff has gone down on Killingsworth over the years, and even though this is in a completely different neighborhood, the folks in charge of picking a name went with the safer choice. And who can blame them?

There has been a fair bit of gentrification in this neighborhood over the last few years. Believe me when I say that the sushi place would never have lasted a decade ago. But, the US headquarters for Adidas are down the street and that has to bring lots of lunch money to the hood. A girl that my daughter went to high school with lives directly behind the former Yorgo’s. Their family has been in that house for years. I wonder whether they like the changes or not.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Floral Report

We have had freezing temperatures, ice, snow, wind, and rain, rain, rain. Even though we are in an El Nino pattern, we have been getting plenty of rain. I mention it only because when you have a “water intrusion” as the building trades like to call it (aka a leak), you do notice the unremitting rain.

However, all is not dreary and gray! No indeed, with the above average temperatures that El Nino brings, we are starting to see early spring flowers popping up. I should be worried about them; they should be worried about themselves. It’s really too early to be bursting into bloom. February is known around here as the ice storm month for good reason. But, I am so happy to see them!

In my yard, the winter blooming jasmine is sporting sunny yellow flowers. OK, it’s a winter bloomer, not a sign of early spring, but I love it anyway. Cheers for the jasmine! Thanks for the joy!

My neighbor’s yard is rife with daphne, and they are just starting to send out their heady fragrance. Do you like the smell of daphne? It reminds me of Froot Loops cereal, so sweet!

There are bulb-borne flowers starting to push out of the ground, strong, sturdy, sword-like leaves are cleaving their way through the soil. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils.

Even the hydrangea is showing new leaf buds on its winter scarred branches. I wasn’t sure we’d get any hydrangeas after that cold snap and snow storm. It is such a fibrous plant that it dies right back in the cold. Ours seems to have survived.

Some planting guides suggest that we can put peas in the ground now (snow peas, I’d guess), but I’m going to wait just a little longer for that. That would be tempting fate, tempting the weather gods just a little too much.

What are your favorite spring flowers? What’s blooming in your yard or neighborhood?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hawthorne update

Drove by the now empty lot on Hawthorne where the Daily Grind used to be. I'm happy to report that it will not be a condo tower. There is some signage on the chain link fencing indicating that New Seasons will build a grocery store there.

OK, this is kinda crazy. It was an independent hippie grocery store and it's being replaced by a chain hippie grocery store. Hmmm.... AND, it's just a few blocks from a Fred Meyer. I guess I don't need to know how these things work. At least it's New Seasons, which is a pretty good small chain. They treat their employees well and the prices are not as astronomical as that other chain ~ Whole Foods, also called Whole Paycheck because that's how much you can spend if you shop there.

Oh, and speaking of Whole Foods, I just had a thought. It might be built on the model of the Whole Foods that is going in on Sandy Boulevard in the Hollywood District. Massive, upscale, expensive grocery store on the bottom (and a bank), with condos above.

We shall see!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just the shell remains

I drove over to the parents house on Tuesday afternoon. Went down NE 27th to Knott. On 27th between Tillamook and Thompson is the shell of an old house. I'm not sure but it looks like it might have burned.

It looks as if it is being taken apart carefully. Maybe one of these 'deconstruction' companies it taking it apart to reuse the materials. I hope so.

I'm going to have to go back that way and take a longer look. I was in a hurry on Tuesday and couldn't even slow down, let alone stop and look. And, I'll bring my camera because I keep hearing from one of my readers that pictures would add a nice touch to this blog...