08 December 2020
3772This was Wy'east from the Rossi place at NE 122nd and Shaver today. There was a lot of red and gold in the sky so you know I couldn't pass that up.
15 October 2020
Dateline, Portland, Oregon, the ballot drop at the Midland Library. Less than a day after I received it, and more than two weeks out from Election Day, I have already cast my vote in what could possibly be the most consequential election of my adult lifetime.
The primary election was a little nerving. Happening in the thick of Covid time, as it was then, it took more time than I anticipated to register acceptance of my vote. Not taking that chance this time. I believe in Multnomah County Elections, I know they're solid there, but my additional accesses of anxiety mean that I'm going to let as few things go to chance as I can control.
So, therefore, this:
So there I was and there was I, at the ballot drop box in front of the Midland Library on 122nd, doing my civic and national duty.
If I'd had to wait any longer to get my ballot, I'd of gone down to 11th and Belmont and carve my damned vote into the side of building.
I was, in fact, that eager.
Dept Of "I Know That You Think You Understood What I Said, But I Don't Think You Get That What I Said Wasn't What I Meant" Dept.
I understand that it's October and all and that JoAnn's is pitching toward the Halloween crafting crowd, I mean, I get it.
But, somehow, the text on that sign just isn't communicating to me what I think they think they hoped it would.
Yes, I suppose they didn't mean that sort of creep, but where's the fun in following that line of logic?
John Luby Park is a lovely place to have a lunch. A brilliant bit of thick forest, an island in the relentless post-WWII subdivision spreading eastward from I-205 out to the Gresham city line. That day we were there, it was sunny and light but not too uncomfortable; once under the canopy it was dusky and at least 10 degrees cooler than the sunlit areas.
Portland's terrain offers these treats. From this spot, on NE Brazee St between 127th and 130th Avenues, we look northeast through this gap in the trees over the houses just to the east of Russell Elementary School, and see the bluffs just on the outskirts of Camas, between five and six miles away.
05 October 2020
It may seem dark to look for what will become a souvenir on this time (especially since isn't next to impossible to know if it's crested yet; let's just say that's the way my optimism rolls) but when you find something that hits your vibe, you hit it, if you can. And we did.
Storm Crow, a company that runs a couple of geek pubs in Canada (Vancouver and Toronto, if you are favorably positioned) also sells geek gear worldwide. And what better a token of the chaos that has been 2020 would be ...
... a twenty-sided die. With 2020 things on every face.
Yeah, that is, in fact, Elon Musk and Grimes's kid's daft name on one face. COVID-19 is on another. And there are a couple of white triangle stickers so you can do some modding as appropriate if you wish; I'm totally considering re-labeling Wildfire Smoke or Beachie Creek Fire or Cascade Wildfires or something properly interpretatively expressive.
It's about the size of a ping-pong ball and is made of that hard, dense stuff they make dice and bowling balls and conservative Republican minds out of, so if civilization does fall, carry this with you, chum, and you can at least get one good shot off before the zombies overwhelm you, because it's that last act of defiance that counts as you descend into apocalyptic oblivion, isn't it?
It's available from Storm Crow for the appropriate price of USD$ 20.20, and their customer service and response is, in the classical style, superb. One catch, though: it was so popular that they ran out of their original production run in two weeks' time and are waiting on a new batch to send out. But they'll let you pre-order.
It's a fun thing.
Here's the link: https://shop.stormcrow.com/products/the-storm-crow-d2020
29 September 2020
This view was taken two days ago; I was pointing Olivia east down SE Market St at 113th, same place (more or less) as the wildfire smoke photos but this time I was entranced by the way the overcast (scattered fog the order of the day) broke in the distance and gave a glimpse of the sunrise sky.
The red light in the middle distance is the flashing red over the intersection of 117th and the smaller red light in the farther distance is the traffic signal over 122nd and Market. The angle and the zoom communicate one thing I love about my corner of town ... even though it's near everything, it seems cozy and just a little bit remote.
It's comfortable, here.
I usually kind of am indifferent to clear blue skies, much preferring the variegations of the cloudy and overcast but after the wildfire-choked Western sky of the past couple of weeks, even overcast-loving me is enjoying the clear blue.
Still, it took a little longer than I thought for the mountain to present. Precipitation followed by foggy mornings (well, it is getting into Fall). But here ... for the late Brenda Balin and all those others who happen by here for a view of Oregon signature peak ... is Wy'east at sunrise, taken from the stretch of NE Killingsworth St just west of I-205 I pass hither and thither through every working day:
The peak is in silhouette but that's mere apparency. The sun this day was rising off to the left, to the north (as is appropriate for this time of year), over Larch Mountain, to be exact. One can just make out the pattern of glaciers on the flanks of the volcano (no snow, as of yet).
Here's a wider view of the scene:
That distant humpback on the left there is the aforementioned Larch Mountain. And again it strikes me how hard it is to frame a picture so that the psychological weight of the mountain communicates. Seems rather small, here.
We all have a different vision, and that applies to the indifference of the sensor of the Canon camera I use. Such is photography, I guess.
21 September 2020
I continue to try and figure the wizardry The Kid Sister used to locate the replacement to my beloved old warrior of a no-spill coffee mug (see missive the last). But, along the way, I found a thing that filled in the historical narrative a bit, and I found it in an unexpected place: a site in New Zealand.
On the site New Zealand Pottery, an enthusiast site for Kiwi lovers of all things pottery, a user named Jeremy Ashford on the 21st of February, 2016 (I'm guessing at the year; the post is merely dated Sunday, 21 Feb with no concession as to year and the most recent year I can find is 2016; crossing that datum with the 2011 sign-on of said user and the only Sun 2/21 I can find during the user's term of residency there would be n 2016 AND MOVING ON) posted a rather interesting article beginning with the sighting of a model by the stoneware maker Crown Lynn (which defuncted in 1988), a model 1448, which shares the same low-center-of-gravity profile as my mug and all the Bearly Surviving mugs I've seen.
His informal investigation of the lineage of the design lead him to the brand Bearly Surviving and to one of the creators and marketers of the original design, Tres Feltman. It was his partner, Dirk Langer, the both of them grad students in Design at UCLA, who created the first design on the potter's wheel, and it went on from there.
From the article, in Tres Feltman's own words of reply to the author:
Dirk and I met while attending graduate school at UCLA. While pursuing our graduate degrees in Design we began experimenting with different mug shapes to bring to market. Dirk actually created the first No Spill No Slide mug on the potters wheel. The original mold was made off the mug he threw on the wheel. We put decal graphics of surfers and surfing on the mugs and sold them to surf shops up and down the California coast. We originally sold the mugs under the name "Bearly Surviving" and later we incorporated under the name Feltman Langer, Inc.
We soon realized that the Surf Industry, at that time, was very small and most surfers didn't have the disposable income they have now. I was crewing on a sailboat at the time and realized sailers had more money than surfers and the boating industry was immensely bigger than the surf industry. That's when we began putting nautical graphics on our mugs and our little company really took off.
I have also subsequently found out that their company's mugs were marketed both under the Barely Surviving and Feltman Langer brands.
The practicality of the design to anyone in both the worlds of surfing or yachting is self-evident. The savvy of divining the right market is admirable, and the success of the design is well-attested to by the fact that it's still being traded heavily on eBay, almost as a collectors item, and that a twenty-something finding himself in Seattle in the mid-80s who will come no closer to sailing in his life than watching Gilligan's Island found the design appealing enough to own for thirty-five years.
It also explains why so many of these mugs have nautical attire.
So. A bright idea by two UCLA grad students in the 70s goes round the world, copied by a NZ manufacturer and maintains ... and even makes its entry into science fiction television ... what? Yes. It's reputedly been seen on Star Trek ...
But they who are interested can read the whole of it at the author's article at https://www.newzealandpottery.net/t7237-no-spill-no-slide-californian-origins-of-the-1448-mug. There are links you can copy and paste but I won't testify to their effectiveness; consider it an adventure, thrillseeker!
Also, get a load of what I was able to get on a Google web search of bearly surviving mug under the 'Shopping' tab. Four pages worth. And here's one for feltman langer mug. About as many. There's still a constituency.
19 September 2020
It is by cuppa alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the juice of Coffea arabica that thoughts acquire speed, the teeth acquire stains, stains become a warning. It is by cuppa alone I set my mind in motion.
-- What Piter de Vries actually meant in that movie
I have in front of me two coffee cups. To people of my self-styled bent, consciously continually inventing themselves in the DIY mold of the self-made artist/street philosopher king having a single dependable, 'companion' coffee cup is a thing of psychology, speaking to the needs of talisman and ritual. I've written about it before, back in 2015. The time has come, my friends, to speak of it again.
Why? because of a deed wholly unexpected, a pleasant and unexpected surprise having come my way.
I don't write often of my family, not because we're terribly estranged, but we live kind of in different worlds (or, to be more precise, they live on Planet Earth while I've always lived in a sort of dimension of my own, a thing which has been known ever since I was a weird little kid in the then-rather-banal-and-normal Silverton). Currently my Mom, my kid sister and her husband and their kids live in Jackson County - same side of Oregon, different corner. Siskiyou Country rather than Willamette Valley.
During this time of wildfires we had occasion to think of them; when the phone call came from my sister, I didn't hesitate to pick up. As it turned out, their house and little town are fine and fire didn't come close. But she did want me to clarify my postal address, so I did, and all she said was that she was going to send me a box.
It's at this point I'm hoping you followed the link three paragraphs up. If you don't feel like scrolling back up, here's the link again. Follow it. I'll wait.
Back? All orientated? Good. The box contained a brief and dear letter, a repayment in gratitude, and the object on the right in the picture below:
On the left, the original edition acquired in Seattle in 1985. On the right, its successor, provided by my sister, who had noticed in my earlier sharings that the original warrior was in distressed shape, and she remembered how fond I was of that cup. And I am still wowing over this, because, as far as I can tell, finding vintage Bearly Surviving mugs (which seem to have become collectors items) that were originally sold thirty-five years ago is no mean feat. I mean, I've cruised the 'Web trying to find this particular model ... it's larger, about 21 ounces, than most of the non-spill travel mugs they sold back then. Vanishingly rare, as in, I've not found a-one yet.
Several years ago, I shattered that mug, and managed to keep all the fragments, and held on to them until I found a glue I could actually use and since about 2014 or thereabouts I was drinking out of this beloved mug again. And, somehow, my sister, who now has my awe and respect for this, found another one just like it. I seriously can't even here. And I had no idea. Totally out of the blue here.
My life is filled with people, from the Brown Eyed Girl on down, who do little things that indulge me to make it possible for me to try to invent myself as the creative artist I should have always been. I don't recognize that enough. This'll be one of those things now that'll stay with me in that way.
The cup, it will be noted, has been christened (as see the picture that follows). And, away we go - for another thirty-five years? Who knows. It's possible!
And so it brews.
15 September 2020
Here's another thing about that ped overpass on Division at SE 136th: an incomparable sight line.
I got a couple other zoom shots which I'll share tomorrow or the next day so I don't tap myself out and, besides, I'm getting a little tapped out when it comes to blogging today and I want to go paint so there's that.
Anyway! Division is an awesome street, really. There are tony parts, and working class parts, and it goes on forever, all the way from Portland through Gresham and doesn't give out until almost Oxbow Park, way out beyond Gresham. Urban, rural, farm, forest, Division will give it to you.
I return us, though, to that pedestrian overpass I was going on about in the last entry. I said there was a story regarding Birthday Hat, and here it is:
It was windy that day, and I was clicking away at the sky with the incoming smoky miasma, somewhat furiously as I had to get back down to the Dutch Bros where my latte was coming to completion and the Brown Eyed Girl would be waiting to take us on to the Franz store or whereever else it was we'd be going, and what I should have foreseen happened and a gust of a breeze (It was windy that day) plucked Birthday Hat off my head and sent it spinning down to Division Street below.
I got a glimpse of where it landed: in the left turn lane going from Division west to 136th south. A part of me was giving it up for About To Be Crushed, when a red car driven by a black man pulled into the turn lane, snagged my rogue trilby, looked up, saw me, I saw him and we somehow communicated that I'd make my way down and he'd meet me on the corner. Powering down my camera I made for the stairs.
It's fortune that the light at 136th seems to take so long to cycle and that the drivers on Division westbound were courteous that day because I made it down to that car and gratefully retrieved the hat. Either that, or I was terribly motivated. But the hat was gotten back and sincere gratitude expressed for this kindness that day.
And, I did get this shot:
Division under looming smoke, one of the last glimpses of blue sky we'd have for many days (we still don't, as of this writing) ranks of familiar Cascade foothills.
And me, still in possession of Birthday Hat, which seems to have a sort of modest level of luck attached to it. Well, I may not have much faith in supernatural explanations, but I'll roll with this one for now.
Diving back deeper, I was finally able to coax a image to resemble things the way I remember them.
I do, as it happens, do a little manipulation of most of the images I post. I try to keep it to the absolute minimum, white balance, color enhance maybe. I suppose many photographers do same, but even though I've learnt a great deal about composition and framing over the years I've shot digital photos for fun, sometimes those cameras just don't pick up the image the way my eye and psyche do.
Sometimes one feels one's telling a fib with the insane amount of photo editing that is available, but then, if every photo's a story and I'm trying to tell a moment, it's also a sort of integrity that I try to make that photo resonate with my memory of the moment.
Six days ago, before the smoke arrived for good, me and the Girl were out doing whatever it was we were doing, and stopped, as we have habit to do, at the Dutch Bros on SE Division just east of 136th. It's a verity for us. Very nearby there is a pedestrian overpass and I noticed that Wy'east was presenting interesingly under the incoming smoke (which I already visually explored here and here. It was here along Division, though, when I realized I had something visually worth capturing.
There was a lineup at Dutch Bros, so out of the car I leapt, me and Birthday Hat. Short adventure with Birthday Hat, but that's for the next entry.
I tried to frame the mountain, but when seen in the viewfinder it mellowed back so much it was all but impossible to compose effectively, so I seat-of-the-pantsed it using surrounding hills and other things that I could see. Eventually I'm here in front of my computer and I can play with curves and, even though this is not what the camera appeared to capture, this resonates with the memory of what I saw.
Old Wy'east usually presents well from this part of Division. Once I got the color where I wanted it, it visually imposes quite aptly.
Here I'll include a bit of pull-back for context.
This takes in not only Division just below the overpass and the PGE substation at 138th and Divsion but also our insurance agent's office.
Anthony Kondos. Nice guy. We recommend him.
There is an endless internal dialogue with me going on when it comes to scenes like this, and its participants are constantly amazed that looking on something like this mountain, which I regard with almost a fetishistic intensity, comes out one fulsome way in the brain and the psyche but another diminished way under the indifference of the digital camera. Our brain really works hard at playing things up for us.
This dialogue has no resolution, one supposes, and perhaps no end save sufficiently-advanced senesence or biological decease.
So it goes.
In the missive previous I mentioned our inbound and outbound travel. Two bridges were involved:
The Broadway Bridge, here seen from N Interstate Avenue back of the old Memorial Coliseum:
And the transport outbound was the venerable Steel Bridge. The smoke is not as evident in this, but the drabness of what is usually a fairly colorful shot should be obvious.
I crave to be blogging but have nothing really to say at this time, so here's some more pics of Portland in the smoke from the 10th ... five days ago, when we were transporting me down to the OSU Food Innovation Center for the yummy taste test.
I can neither confirm nor deny it involved some sort of seafood. I can confirm that I loved it all.
Our route took us down the Banfield Freeway (I-84 for you out-of-towners) and Brown Eyed Girl decided we'd go through the Lloyd District then use the Broadway Bridge to cross the Willamette. I got it coming and going.
Inbound (approaching from the east) things looked like this:
This was five days ago ... five days, can you believe it ... and we were just beginning to get into the heavy part of this. At this writing, the smoke has abated somewhat. with AQI down into the mid-200s where they were still near 500 yesterday.
By now, the smoke seems to have seeped into our very bodies and is encouraging a headache, which is terribly glad to be here.
The view as we were leaving northwest Portland to go home. The treat was down the road a bit, a breakfast burrito from Jack in the Box (we like what we like). Nearly every one of those high-rises you see is less than a decade old (feel free to insert Old Portland-New Portland gripe here). The Oregon Convention Center has to do visual battles now it never even envisioned back when it was built.
14 September 2020
Seen out front of Chez Zehnkatzen, but only if you more or less looked straight up:
We're not out of the smog yet by any stretch; AQI numbers are still atrocious. But It's been a smoky pall filling the sky for more than three-four days now, and anything approaching what normal should be is most welcome.
It was with the best of intentions, but Commander Koenig and Chief Medical Officer Russell of Moonbase Alpha would like to extend sincere apologies. Although the International Lunar Finance Commission could be a bit more grateful that we finally got that putz Simmonds off your hands more or less permanently.
3757We do have a new addition to the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, and she's a domestic shortair tuxie girl we call Tabitha, or Tabby for short.
3756Today in wildfire news, we've learnt that conditions for the endangered towns along the Cascade Piedmont have improved greatly. Some of the Level 3 evacuations have been reduced to Level 2; Level 2 to Level 1, and Level 1 to Level None. This is due in no small part to shifting weather; there's been cooling and the winds, which fanned the originally-small fires into the mega-infernos they became, have largely abated.
On the 12th, AQI counts were in the 300s-400s. On the 13th, they were over 500. Any more stuff in the air after that and we drivers would have had to carry shovels to dig our way through, if we wanted to get anywhere. At least here in Multnomah County we didn't have to worry about the flames actually getting to us.
10 September 2020
Today I had an appointment for a taste test group at the OSU Food Innovation Center down on NW Naito Parkway. I can neither confirm or deny that it was in some way related to seafood though I did find all samples rather tasty.
It was worth $50 for showing up, so there's that as well. It's gotten to be a pretty big draw, but it's fun and interesting and they always pay you money for showing up so I recommend Googling that stuff up and getting on the list if you can.
Camera was ready of course because there is a flood of wildfire smoke images accessing the digital image part of the internet and I would be remiss if I did not contribute. Actually, I'm rather counting my blessings: chance could have made me a resident in an area that had to evacuate. Not a desirable outcome, as thousands of people would certainly tell you right now.
This is downtown Portland as seen from NE Lloyd Blvd just west of Grand Avenue. Usually a very good view. It is a very good view, but of a rather bad thing right now. Taking in a homeless camp just makes the whole thing of a piece.
The air quality is atrocious, akin to just sticking an unsmoked cigarette in your bronchial tubes.
And this is the Lloyd District as seen from the Banfield Freeway (I-84), on approach to that area from the east:
As scary as yesterday's sky was, I'd prefer it to this.
Developments we've heard since yesterday:
- The town of Detroit was largely burned to the ground
- Mill City got smacked but not as hard as originally thought
- The towns along the Cascade Piedmont in Marion County ... Silverton, Mt. Angel, Sublimity, Stayton, still remain on Level 2 evac status, one move away from having to leave
- More than half of Clackamas County is now on Level 3 status: this includes Molalla and Estacada, and most of the way along Highway 213 down to the Marion County line at the Pudding River.
- All the major towns in Clackamas County - Canby, Oregon City, Gladstone - are also on Level 2 evac alerts.
As I alluded to last episode, we were up in Vancouver for personal reasons. The Brown Eyed Girl has a personal friend she visits up there, and she's helpin' him through a time, and she's seen these angles and knows them, and was thrilled to finally get to share them with me.
The previous was northbound on the Glenn Jackson Bridge which carries I-205 over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. This one was on Washington's SR-14 eastbound pointed toward Camas and, in this case, just about to pass the exit to SE 164th Avenue.
The lack of any snow cover on the great peak is remarkable, and a bit eerie considering the circumstances. I hope to get more photos of this view when the Big Smoke is gone ... and with some snow cover on.
Just a couple of very modest glaciers up there right now.
While yesterday Portland was under clear skies while Salem suffered under the fire's plume, today the plume moved north and threw its blanket over us as well.
Today also I found myself going up into Vancouver for a number of personal reasons. Those reasons are not so important maybe but they did give me a chance to get a shot of Mount Hood, Wy'east, beginning to be obscured by it, from the Glenn Jackson Bridge.
This was Wy'east today:
The chance to use the mighty Columbia as a foreground doesn't present itself to me often, and when you get that chance, you use it.
It's a scary time, but a visually arresting time.
09 September 2020
Here's another view. this one courtesy of Jamie Neal, a member of the Facebook group "Lost In Oregon".
Before I show this one off, it certainly bears mentioning the profoundly dense nature of the wildfire-generated canopy over parts of northwestern Oregon. Smoke from the Beachie Creek and Lionshead fires have been pushed west over Salem and points west and south, as far as Eugene and over to the coast. Also there are now a couple of fires in the Coast Range to contend with, all pumping thick smoke into the region.
The scenes we've seen today via those staccato signals of constant information call to mind the scenes in eastern Washington after Mount Saint Helens erupted: dusk came well before sunset to Salem, and it looked as dark as midnight by 7 PM.
This picture is of the Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport, on the coast, so if one's even the least bit familiar with Oregon geography, one will know that this is a heck of a long way from the Cascades. But, yesterday afternoon, Newport's iconic bridge seemed to be on another planet.
It's rather like sunset on Mars during a dust storm.
So that goes, and thank you Jamie for allowing me to post your photo.
08 September 2020
This fire will go down in the same historic terms as the Eagle Creek Fire of 2017.
Marion County looks like a big pork chop. It's wide on the west and narrows to a sort of a rough panhandle on the east, where it delves into the mountains. And, just as everywhere right now, its tinder-dry.
Now, history will also indicate that northwestern Oregon had a remarkably potent wind event over the last 12+ hours (it's 1:54 PM on the 8th as I write this). A great deal of collateral damage has already occurred; multiple power outages, over 100,000 still out of power in the Portland Metro area in PGE's service area alone (we, fortunately are not one of those. The massive demand indicates waits for reconnection of service of possibly 1-2 days hence in some cases). Also, PGE decided to take a page out of the California playbook and pre-emptively cut power to the area along US 26 going up to Mount Hood, to prevent a possibly downed and shorting out power line from causing a wildfire up Rhododendron or Zigzag way.
And that has largely worked. In Portland the worst of it continues to be the power outages, and last night there was considerable wildfire smoke from numerous conflagrations east of the Cascades not only in Oregon but also Washington. At the time of this writing the skies over Portland are back to that dreary clear blue we see so much of at the height of summer.
The issues in Oregon include two fires on the panhandle end of the Marion County pork chop, called Beachie Creek and Lionshead. Beachie Creek is in the Opal Creek Wilderness north of Detroit, and the Lionshead fire is somewhat to the east of that nearer Mount Jefferson. Before this weekend the Beachie Creek fire was a small fire but then the wind came though and it does what wind does to fires, and in this particular case, it's expanded it to historic proportion.
This morning, while on Silverton Road about two miles west of the eponymous town, our correspondent Gus Frederick showed the smoke from that not-all-that distant fire moving in:
The viewpoint in this photo is cardinal east. the smoke plume seems to indicate a source off to the east-southeast, which matches up with the general bearing of where that fire is.
Checking with the Oregon Dept of Forestry, who embeds the Active Major Fires map from the National Interagency Fire Center, yields this salient information:
The map takes fire information from satellite overflights and compiles them. This big red and yellow patch is the area around the Beachie Creek fire where fire sign has been detected by satellite. The small detached area just to the left of that region's left edge obscures the town of Lyons. Moving east along the lower edge of that patch are the towns of Mehama, Mill City, Gates. The small blue patch below the Hwy 22 shield is Detroit. The light green area around the highway shield form Hwy 214 is Silver Falls state park. The edge of this zone is less than 10 miles east of Stayton and about 15 miles southeast of Silverton
And that's why the Santiam Canyon was evacuated earlier today and why the towns along the Cascade Highway are on Level 2 evac alerts.
That's the state of play of things right now.
04 September 2020
This is a thing that seems to be more and more usual as we head deeper into the 21st Century.
A number of wildfires make the news each and every fire season now, and they've become so massive that smoke floats in from nearby states. Not so much today's, though. Here, at the height of the hot, we have two over on the eastern slopes, Lionshead and White River, near Madras and Bend, in that area. There's also one in far eastern Washington that may be contributing.
I was wanting of a picture of Wy'east as a salute to my departed friend Brenda, and I was able to get it, after a fashion. But the sky on the way to 122nd and NE Shaver was remarkable:
This is looking east down NE Prescott Street just east of NE 102nd Avenue, in the Parkrose neighborhood. Prescott Elementary school is immediately to my right. And just look at that demarcation in the sky there. As sharp as one can expect.
Wildfire smoke, making its way into the Willamette Valley. Again, in 2020.
The view of the mountain was ... well, just look:
The corn on the Rossi farm was looking good, however. So there was that.
The event we'd been anticipating has come and gone and our beloved Brenda Balin, she who sent me the fountain pen, she who was a fellow traveller from the days of the Harlan Ellison Art Deco Dining Pavilion (a/k/a "The Pavvy") is no longer with us.
The sarcoma which was diagnosed as imminently terminal after a visit the emergency room a mere two months ago did its unrelenting job, more or less on-schedule, maybe plus a little.
Yesterday, as I got my game face on for the morning, I did what I've done most days these last two months on Facebook, since we learnt. Brenda's son, Eli, posted it.
In answer, I wrote the following:
Vita brevis, ars longa.
At 5:45 AM today, Brenda Balin, born of New York and late of Waukegan Illinois, passed away at age 70 in hospice near Chicago, Illinois. She was my friend.
I will so very much miss her. We had a saying,her and I, that we shared between us, which I think is expressed in the Latin alphabet as L'Shana Haba'ah b'Portland ... "Next year in Portland", a turn on the closing of the service on Yom Kippur (as she told me), the wish to meet "Next Year in Jerusalem". It was her wish to eventually come out west and see us in person, something wished of the both of use over the decade of acquaintance, and a thing devoutly wished between us.
Sometime during the last couple of years old Moe Mentum reversed his swing imperceptibly, and there came a sense that that goal was receding faster than we could catch it, so we basked in each others' company online. She was one of the people I met in the Art Deco Dining Pavilion on HarlanEllison dot com, and it's a constant sense of amazement and pleasure to me that I still see a number of these friends online, and those online acquaintances ... and you know who you are ... are as solid, or even more so, than some people i know in real life. Harlan Ellison brought potential into lives. So did Brenda.
Just by living her life as she did she brought me so much as a friend. And now that supply is gone, and I wlll have to take what she gave me and nurture it as I penetrate deeper into middle age. She encouraged my writing and art, 'twas one on the people around me who see more potential in me than I see in myself, and one of the last things she said to me about that was 'put yourself out there'.
My condolences to her son, Eli, and her family, that they may mourn this loss, and to myself, now that I won't see her online responding to my profundity any longer. And my admiration to the decision not to leave her online presence up: one full of wisdom and a touch of bravery that shouldn't be uncommon in this time, but kind of is.
Ars longa, vita brevis.
בשנה הבאה בפורטלנד
That last part there, the Hebrew ... that was a sentiment between us that I'll miss greatly. My transliteration is undoubtedly errant, inferred as it was from what I could find, and I'm no Hebrew speaker
Brenda did always want to come out here. I got the idea she thought of Portland as one of the last good places left in America (current events withstanding or no). And she wanted to come out here and see the mountain. Wy'east. Mount Hood. She seemed to regard it as one of the most beautiful of things (you don't need to convince me) and wanted the chance to see it in person.
A chance that'll never be, alas.
We talked a few times on the phone. That wonderful east-coast accent; I could tell it came from New York. A little cawfee tawk.
And with the knowledge that I'll never again see a ready response to some of my online profundity, that her updates and comments will never again appear, I think I can be forgiven if I get a little ... well, verklempt. Or maybe a lot.
As the Tralfamadorians say:
So it goes.
28 August 2020
A reveal, if we please.
I do enjoy writing in fountain pen, and as I've testified before, I adore handwriting. I have a Kaweco Perkeo, as also noted before, in old chambray colors that we got me a couple of years back at Little Otsu down on SE Division in the toney section of town, still, it's a lovely store and if you're as finicky about your writing tools as I am, believe me, it's right up your street too.
But this wasn't Little Otsu that that is complicit here but Oblation Papers & Press over off NW 12th and Glisan, as I also detailed in a posting even more recently.
Babble babble, let's get back on course. We visited Oblation because we were certain we'd find the exact brand of ink cartridge we'd need for a very very special fountain pen. Here, then, is that pen.
This is the Lamy CP-1. Its aspect was created by the German industrial designer Gerd Müller in the mid 1970s, and this is a pen from that era. Its simplicity and practical design make it timeless and it does have a comfortable feel and heft. The small box of cartridges is the Lamy T-10, $5 for a box of 5; that metal cylinder is the pen's converter, a thing I can load ink in and use instead of a cartridge. This particular one is a bit of an oddity: instead of a piston you'd use to load it up, there is a bit of spring metal there that you use to compress the clear plastic bladder, then releasing it allows the bladder to re-expand, pulling ink in. They called this an 'aerometric' converter, and it, according to the reviews I've seen, didn't work so well maybe.
It was given to a rather artistic friend of mine named Brenda who has bequeathed it unto me since she has my number in so many ways. It additionally was sent on to me since Brenda is, and I think she would think amiss if I pussy-footed around the thing, dying.
I value this object. Because it's a pen, a fountain pen, a fountain pen from an artist who sees it as an object of art as well as an artistic tool, a fountain pen with a history beginning in New York City and ending, for now, with me, and it was given to me to create whatever art I can with it and was given to me as an aspiring artist who has art for it in mind, and will continue to use it even after the original artist has drawn beyond us - has died.
All of a sudden, the idea of someone surviving beyond death as something changed doesn't seem like such an abstraction.
At this point the pen is in the stage of being pressed back into service after being stored for a while. Anyone who's done same will probably relate. It requires a bit of water, as the ink is water-soluble, and it's in a stubborn period where it will write for a while and then stop for a while too. It's making me earn its respect. I've been there before, and I have a promise to keep, so I'll keep working at it.
I do rather wish Brenda could have been with us to Oblation. I think she would have loved that place. I know I do. And Brenda is still with us for a little while longer and I want her to know that yes, it's going to be used and pressed into service and be valued. A love letter to the future from the past, even.
So it goes.
26 August 2020
We sallied forth in search of fountain pen cartridges.
I don't make a huge deal of it here but I am fond of fountain pens for a bunch of reasons, some of them intellectual (Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the author seems to make pointed note of, uses a dip or fountain pain in writing his illicit diary) but most of them sensual (handwriting aficionados probably have a gut feeling for what I just now laid down, and I hope it's a solid ASMR hit, too). I have a Kaweco Perkeo in the Old Chambray color style, and have had a lot of happy fun writing with the Preppy Platinum fountain pen, a low-cost, good-quality, high-value way of satisfying your fountain pen writing jones on the cheap.
|Birbs, they haz them too.|
But this is Portland, Oregon, and we do stuff artistically AF, yo, so, no, finding this sort of thing is hardly impossible and led us down a very delightful path which ended at a place at 516 NW 12th Avenue called Oblation Papers & Press.
This is a worthwhile place to be for anyone who loves letterpress, old-school printing, stationery and pens and pencils. They have it all there from Mont Blanc pens to Blackwing pencils ... and they had what I'm looking for, the Lamy T-10 ink cartridge. Sadly, the darkest Lamy ink is only blue-black, and I much prefer the absolutest black ink I can find, but the quality is quite nice and I won't mind this.
They have a great many paper products, all very artisanal (and I mean this is in the good, not my usual sarcastic way). They do custom jobs for special occaisions ... and they have this, which had me over the moon: honest-to-goodness typewriters.
Now, mind you, those old-school presses in the back there got my attention as well, but I couldn't get all drooly over those. Just as well. All the typewriters seen here are on sale, and one can go right up to them and give 'em a few test hunt'n'pecks if they are so inclined.
Prices? Well, technology being what it is, actual mechanical typewriters are a thing of vintage, and these are priced to match. The days of finding a retired typewriter at the stack at the back of the Goodwill store for five to ten bucks are long, long gone, my friends. These are all lovingly refurbished and run about $100 and up.
But if it's a vintage typewriter you're looking for, you'll get what you pay for. The picture below is a model that caught my eye because it looks like one of the models that L. Ron Hubbard used to brag about wearing out because he typed on them so hard. What's really eye-catching about this one is the keys that show this was obviously produced for a certain European market, with a QWERTY keyboard but with an Å next to the P and a Æ with an Ø to the right of the L.
Danish, Norwegian, Faroese, Wikipedia tells me.
We weren't able to stay long but we'd like to be going back here I think, and I'll be taking more pictures at a later time perhaps. It's around the corner from Portland's Dick Blick store, so those who want to spend a leisurely afternoon with upscale art supplies ... well, here's your place.
They sell actual typewriters at Oblation Papers & Press.
Because this is Portland, and that's what we do here.
24 August 2020
Today has been productive when it comes to serendipitously finding things I've been looking for. There are so many things on the 'web, and so many ways to find them, that sometimes it takes years to put just the right terms together. So it is thus.
On thing I've always been curious about is the annexation history of Silverton, my birthplace. Silverton's geography and street layout have always been one of the most intriguing things to me, and one of my insatiable curiosities has been 'why', or if not that, at least, 'how'. Under the aegis of the esteemable Gus Frederick, I have acquired the knowledge of Silverton history that I always should have had but nobody bothered to ever present to me. He also connected me with McEachern's Silverton: The Morphology Of An Oregon Town which answered a great deal of questions about how My Little Town grew, and if it didn't give me any clues of the town's annexation history, I did get a certain idea of what Silverton's boundary looked like at incorporation confirmed, to a degree.
I'm considering a little thought experiment that'll require a map of Silverton to play on. I know where to go at the ODOT website to get one, but I did a bit of Googling just to see what I could find. And boy, did I stumble on something pleasantly unexpected. It would seem that the Library Of Congress would have something that would enlighten, namely, 17 scans of the 1922 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Silverton.
What I include hence is the sheet showing the entire town. This is a city map containing all the streets in town at the time, and the city limits as of 1922. They are identical to the city limits at incorporation McEachern detailed in one of his excellent diagrams.
When I was a kid in Silverton and got familiar with the map, I did find that I enjoyed the shape that the city limits in that time enclosed: a big ol' wing sweeping back from the north side of town; a leg reaching down Silver Creek ending at Ike Mooney Road; but what really intrigued was the visual suggestion that all these additions attached to an original town that was shaped rather as a square. McEachern's diagram confirmed that but gave the footprint a small tail on the southeastern corner of that square, as does this Sanborn map.
Something that really jumped out was the geographical dominance of Silverton's two lumber mills. Before I was alive Silverton was a big timber town, and in the north part of town the yellow area marked 17 and the blue area marked 13 were all lumber mill. As Homsar might say, I'm not gonna lie to ya, that's a healthy piece of real estate.
I note also that most of the streets in Silverton have always been called what they were called when I was a kid and what they're called today. There are very notable exceptions, perforce, in no particular order:
- What we call today East Main St going east from the center of town ("Danger Hill") was noted as Broadway.
- Maple Street, which is a short street connecting the ends of Grand and Sherman Streets just south of North Water and just north of a meander in Silver Creek, was called N. Front St.
- The section of B Street east of Mill Street and West of Hill Street was then called Madison Alley, which is a whole lot cooler of a name than "B Street" but then, they didn't hire me to figure out street names for 'em
- On the western edge of town there's a street called Lower. Today's Silverton has that as Westfield Street.
- In the north, in the area today called "Milltown" the north-south streets are labelled with what must be the names the original developers gave it: 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Today those streets are known, respectively as North 2nd, Elm, and Fir Streets.
- In the northeast part of town, between Church Street and Norway Avenue and north of Chadwick Street there's a connecting street called Plamateer Avenue. Today that's known as Bartlett Street; the short T street capping that at the east end of Bartlett, on our Sanborn map known as Wolford, is today known as Wall Street. And, north of that, a short street comes off the north end of Norway and is called Solum; today's more prosaic name is Liberty Street. One can't help but wonder about the reasons behind those changes.
- The east side of town has also seen intriguing changes. The street known as Rook Street is, comparing modern maps, Rock Street; what was then marked as W. Park Street is now called Ames Street; the next street to the west is not marked nor does it exist on the ground however E. Park Street does (it didn't when I lived off Steelhammer Road, back in the day).
- And, speaking of Steelhammer Road; it's that street that is marked as simply East. Practically named, anyway.
- There is now, as there was then, a W. Center Street, coming off West Main about halfway up West Hill. What is now S. Center Street (coming off W. Main going south from that intersection) was known then as E. Center St, presumably to differentiate it from that street coming off S. Water known then as S. Center St and today called Central Street.
- And, last but not least (for now), what we today call Cowing Street was known then as S. Mill St, to draw the difference between it and the Mill Street serving the two lumber mills on the north side of town. This mill street was named for an altogether different mill, the old Fisher Flouring Mill, which was along Silver Creek just north of there.
- Also, in the south part of town, between South Water and Silver Creek and running parallel to both there is a street that is modernly called Madison Street. In the Silverton of 1922 it was called W. Water Street.
Those, to me, are some fiercely interesting changes, just as interesting as the 1922 city boundary, and the seal in the upper right hand corner which duly reports that in 1922, Silverton's population was 2,251, and the prevailing wind was from the southwest.
The entire run of the 17 sheets can be found at the Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/maps/?all=true&fa=segmentof:g4294sm.g4294sm_g074631922/&sb=shelf-id&st=gallery
A chance look at a bit of Google Mappery sent me down this garden path. Kindly follow along if you will ...
Camas, Washington is a medium-sized growing to larger-medium-sized city on the east side of Clark County, Washington, and the only thing preventing Vancouver from getting the drop on Washougal (Washougal serves its function by preventing Camas from intruding uninvited into Skamania County, but I digress).
Aaaaanyway, as the other towns in Clark County that are also not Vancouver, Camas maintains its own address grid: binomial (NW, SW, NE, SE) extending only to the city boundary, where the County grid takes up. The north-south dividing line is First Avenue, the east-west dividing line is Division Street (these streets don't actually cross; the notional corner on Division and First would be about one block inside the Georgia-Pacific paper mill that dominates the center of town). It serves Camas reasonably well; despite certain quirks introduced by the extreme cant of the central grid and the meander of the Washougal River, it works.
I found this, though, after reviewing the extent of Camas currently via Google Maps. The incorporated area of Camas, during the years I've watched it, has spread rather glandularly; its modest population of around 20,000 or so sprawls over around 16 square miles of riverbank, hill, and prairie, and has become a rather ragged triangle more than five miles from one side to the other.
The hypotenuse of that triangle is the line formed by Lacamas Lake and Lacamas Creek. Within the last decade, though Camas has been annexing north of that, and there is now, at about six miles NW from the city center, there is a tuft of incorporated land that stretches nearly 1/3 of the way from downtown Camas to Battleground.
The city has ambitions.
I reasoned the street numbering should have ascended to certain heights. Up until now, the highest numbered avenue in that NW section of town, which is the largest quadrant, is a NW 78th Avenue. I wondered what, if any, numbered avenues would exist in that tuft. Certainly they must be high, and I was right: I found avenues numbered from 91st through 96th, with a way and a loop stuck in there.
But it was not NW. They were all N: N 91st Ave, N 92nd Ave, N 93rd Ave, Lane, and Loop, N 94th, 95th, and 96th Avenues. And that was strange as, even though it were a sprawl away from the main part of town, it was north and west of the address origin. And so began the search.
And that was a journey. This is the destination:http://www.cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/MAPS/streetnamegrid2010.pdf if one is so inclined. In this diagram we find that the City of Camas has gotten a bit experimental in address sectoring. The dividing lines are called out as SR-14 (separates the tiny SW area from NW), Division, (NW from NE) and the incorrectly-called out NE 3rd Av (should be E 1st Ave) which separates NE from SE. That is as expected.
But now there's N and S. N appears to include everything north of Lacamas Lake and Lacamas Creek as well as NE 43rd Ave, and S, which is Lady Island (which only has room for water treatment works and sewage disposal ponds, and appears to have no residential development slated (nor do I expect any). The diagram itself seems somewhat inaccurate too; the streets in the area north of and immediately adjacent to the intersection of NE 43rd and Everett still seems to have NE on the street signs; however, a quick Google Street View check of Adams off Leadbetter Road shows it as N Adams St, and the street sign for N 47th Cir off NE Everett similarly checks out.
The idea seems to be, as I infer it, changing the directional to a simple N north of the Lacamas/43rd line but the addresses still march on as expected. There's precedent for this on the King County grid: the streets of S Seattle and King County become SE east of 100th Avenue SE with the address pattern proceeding as though no shift in directional had occurred.
Still, it's odd and seems, like Portland's new 'sixth sextant', to want to solve a problem that only debatably exist
The journey began with me wanting to confirm something I found on Google Maps, which I've never found 100% trustworthy when it comes to this. It wound up with me on Planet Camas, which, as it happens, has six 'quadrants' of its own.
Oh, by the way, Camas has a whole Street Naming Manual online. The last revision was in 2010, and you can have it for yourself at http://cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/PLANNING/REPORTS/streetnamingmanual.pdf. Enjoy your reading, address nerds!
Oh, yes ... there's also a 2008 address grid map that actually marks out the blocks at http://www.cityofcamas.us/images/DOCS/MAPS/addressgridmap2008.pdf.
20 August 2020
Now one might have credibly argued that perhaps I should have grouped this with the last three, in as much as they were all taken from the Portland Aerial Tram on the same day in the same year, thence the thematic connection.
But the Marquam Bridge holds a special place in my heart. It does its job, day in and day out, with no nonsense or fanfare about it, everyone depends on it, and nobody sees the inherent beauty in it. For anyone who does their thing because people rely on it even though nobody appreciates its positive qualities much, this bridge could be your patron saint.
Since I did the dive into my photographing past, I stumbled on this and it made me feel antic.
In 2008 me and the Brown Eyed Girl treated ourselves to a ride on the then-still-pretty-novel Portland Aerial Tram. These photos, also taken with that old ViviCam 3705, are a little shaky and blurry and indistinct in places. I punched them up with the GIMP as best I could. They show vistas looking northeast mostly, in the direction of the then-much-less-developed central Eastside. Still, the changes jump the hell out at you.
Back then, the old Lloyd Towers - 500 and 700 NE Multnomah - were the tallest buildings in that district. These days, they're getting kind of lost. And are hardly as alone.
I think actually this is a slightly better view of that.
And bridges, of course, always bridges with Portland. In the middle of the shot, the Oregon Convention Center, once the signature landmark in the area. Just to the left of that, what we call today the Moda Center, and we still, I think then, called the Rose Garden.
The above and below photos jog the George Orr in me. Ask me what I mean by that if you're curious, constant reader.
I said I was going to post three but then I remembered I wanted to post this one and so I guess I lied but it was just a harmless one.
This was taken on a road called Howell Prairie Road NE, about one mile north of a place on the plains east of Salem called Pratum. That's Pratum just ahead there, a small nowhere-place in the farmlands of Marion County with a couple of grain silos at a train stop where the freight trains that ply the eastern side of the Willamette Valley pause to pick up what the farmers make and take it to the world.
Howell Prairie itself is the rolling farmlands northeast of Salem you have to pass through to get to Silverton. It's big and wide and the sort of place where nothing ever happens and the most interesting thing going in is watching the crops grow and actually ... that's a pretty excellent thing, because that's the way things should be, out here, where even though you can see the glow of town on the horizon even more than ever before, it still feels isolated and out-there.
Third and last old pic for the night, and old is appropriate here, is this photo of downtown landmark Mac's Place. This tavern has existed in downtown Silverton since before then, no, even before that, recently revealed research suggests that it was founded either in the late Corduroy or the early Cretinous period (Ramblin' Rod, 1972), though a recent monograph published by Keeko the Clown in 1969 and found in a bootlegged edition of MAD magazine from August 1976 has garnered support for the founding actually being in the mid-Cantankerous period, after the impact of the great shaving cream bolide but before the first Republicans arrived in Oregon.
At any rate, enjoy.
Camera was, again, the ViviCam 3705.
While Silverton isn't a large place, it does have back streets of its own that have a roguish charm.
This is North 3rd Street at Park Street, one block north of Oak. North 3rd is unpaved north of Oak and seems more an alley than a street from here on north the short remaining distance until it ends at B Street.
The camera, as before, is the ViviCam 3705.
Had the urge to post, but not much valuable or useful to say, so here's one of three old photos I have that caught my eye. The camera used in this one was a ViviCam 3705, not much by today's standards but when I got it it was more than $100 of income and 3.5 Mpx and digital zoom and boy was it liberating at the time ... a camera that just shot the picture in whatever light level I had? I've always had my misgivings about our headlong rush into the future but digital photography was certainly not one.
This is downtown Silverton, Oregon, the town of my birth, looking north on North Water Street from between East Main and Oak, taken during the afternoon of 1 January 2008.