08 April 2021

Sandy Blvd As Seen From Council Crest, May 2010


Today's throwback gem returns us to our Council Crest crow's nest of the year 2010 to look at one of Portland's most unique eastside features: Sandy Boulevard. that magnificent diagonal road.

In its entirety it runs from SE 7th and Washington all the way out to Troutdale, the road actually carrying a SE directional from its root to where it crosses Burnside at 12th. As we all may be aware, this was an unbroken road until the Burnside-Couch one-way couplet was decreed, which closed off that first two blocks of NE Sandy, 12th to 14th, and now there's big condo silos there so there will be no going back on this, no, not ever. And, east of 99th in the Parkrose nabe it stops being that magnificent diagonal boulevard and more or less follows the line of the river about a mile north.

The diagonal part, though, is a defining Portland thing for me. No town does diagonal roads quite like Portland does.

The road, ironically, isn't absolutely straight, although it seems that way on maps. The very mild kink in it is easy to miss unless you're looking hard at it. It's obvious on the ground, but not so much from above. And that kink is actually easily observed as in the photo, when you have an acute-angle perspective on it. That bend is where you'll find the Portland nabe known as Hollywood, kind of a downtown for middle-northeast Portland.

Immediately to the right of that, the only high-rise visible in that area, is an apartment complex called Hollywood East; public housing, a 17-story tower at 44th and NE Broadway. And I doubt that it would be obvious even today from this vantage, but a lot of the buildings in Hollywood have been swapped out for other buildings, especially along the north side of Sandy between about 42nd and 47th. 

Beyond that a pale blue streak across the photo denotes the Columbia River, and beyond that? Oh, some part of eastern Vancouver, or Camas perhaps. It's all pretty much the same in that part of Clark County Washington.

06 April 2021

Downtown Portland From Mt. Tabor With Bonus Hawthorne Blvd 2010 Throwback Picture


Last of the throwback treats for the day, this goes back to 2010, and is another composition taken off the brow of Mount Tabor, which is another way Portland's dear to me; I don't get the sort of emotion I get looking at this when I think of any other town I've been in.

In reviewing the photos I'm realizing that that evening, in July 2010, I was really pushing the Kodak EasyShare C813 to its limits. There's only so much low-light goodness you can get out of an 8.3 Mpx sensor designed into a camera meant to appeal to the people who thought, when I was a kid, that Kodak Instamatics were serious picture-taking (this is not the slag it may seem, after all ... I was that sort of person, growing up. Aggravated me that you couldn't take night shots with those cameras. Seemed rather unfair). 

So, sure the view of SE Hawthorne Blvd there in the lower left is a bit fuzzy and downtown set against the backdrop of hills and a bright sunset may be a bit grainy, but it's clear enough to call back that time, just a decade ago, and to those who know Portland's skyline, to remarkably show off that changed skyline. 

So many new buildings there now.

The haze of the physical picture artifacts come off as a kind of an artistic interpretation of memory, now. Warm and hazy, filled with emotion and meaning. Same planet, different world.

And so it goes.

Township And Range Restaurant:2013 Throwback


This is a building that has held a number of restaurants and/or trend bars over the years; it's on the south side of SE Hawthorne Blvd at SE 24th Ave. At the time it was a bistro and bar called Township and Range, and I insisted we pull over and lens it because I adored the bold, angular fat script o the sign. It looked good, impressively good.

It was a bar which promoted itself as a 'friendly neighborhood tavern' sort of vibe which even in 2013 in Portland meant hyper-stylized American bar food with painfully local ingredients and prices to match the attitude ... and even then Hawthorne was the kind of place where the patina of gentrification had soaked in to become the organizing principle of the place ... so we never went. 

We did look in through the entry glass when it was closed once though. Had this big beautiful wood outline map of the state of Oregon, with the surrounding states picked out in different colors, and inlays representing the Willamette Baseline and Meridian and the Willamette Stone. So at least they knew what townships and ranges were about.

Suffice it currently to say that it met the same fate as most ambitious bars and restaurants and self-styled 'friendly neighborhood spots' in Portland did. It's closed - as in gone out of business - and that was well before any pandemic stared hanging around, so put it all down to Portland's legendary shark-tank of a restaurant culture, where you kill or be killed. 

Something else is undoubtedly there, maybe. I guess. Whatevs. 

Four Portland Bridges In One (Picture): 2018 Throwback


Other cities have more bridges, other cities have fewer but more spectacular bridges, but Portland, with a mere seven traffic crossings over its modest yet muscular dividing river has a rep as Bridgetown which extends well beyond its limit.

Maybe because, in the gestalt way, Portland's bridges draw the line between number, function, design, and majesty to accidentally arrive in a certain picturesque sweet spot. The modern lines of the Morrison Bridge are sublime; the antiqueness of the Burnside, the rusticness of the Steel, are, to me, more memorable than the majesty of the suspension spans linking New York boroughs. Even the Saint Johns, despite its quaintness, emanates a combination of poise and elegance that the Golden Gate Bridge can't match. 

But that's me; I, even in the evolved Portland of today, am ever the PDX-chauvinist. Home-town pride and all that.

There's another more practical niftiness about the bend of the Willamette through the dead center of the Rose City; it affords unique angles that allow me to combine more than one bridge most attractively into one shot. For instance, if you situate yourself in the proper place, about 2/3rds of the way east over the Burnside from downtown, you get this:

Four bridges in this shot: in the distance, the arch of the Fremont; next nearer, the red trusses of the Broadway; one more in, the prehistoric Steel, and the balustrade of the one I'm standing on here, the Burnside. Through the gaps in that balustrade you see a car cruising along a ramp from the Banfield Freeway westbound to I-5 along the river southbound; if you look carefully between the supports of the Steel you see a bulk ship standing by to either unload or go; and on the right peeks out the Louis-Dreyfus grain dock elevators.

There are probably other river scenes in other river cities where you can combine nearby elements for an interesting view, but my heart tells me they can't really compete with this even before I've looked at them. 

Interestingly, despite the preponderance of 2010-2013 throwbacks from the now-decommissioned Kodak EasyShare C813, this was actually taken in 2018 according to the EXIF data, so it isn't a throwback ... more of a gentle shoveback.

05 April 2021

The Bulk Ship Corio Bay Departs The Willamette


I did say it was as working river, this harbor. Here, now is a bulk ship leaving the Willamette and entering the Columbia for, we're presuming, points west (actually, subsequent checking of VesselFinder.com revealed it was headed for Nanaimo, BC).

This is the good ship Corio Bay.

It sounded a large, booming sound as it proceeded out of one river and into the other, then languidly sailed downstream the Columbia, toward Astoria, and at that speed, it would have made it there that evening. VesselFinder reports that the ship is still at Nanaimo.

VesselFinder also reports that the ship sails under the flag of Hong Kong, but the foretop sports Old Glory, also a maritime flag that is half red, half white:

The Brown Eyed Girl wondered aloud what that meant, so I endeavored to find out. That particular maritime flag says, in International Code of Signals-speak, I have a pilot on board, so the Corio Bay was getting river-pilot assistance to navigate the inland waters of the Columbia. What a life that must be ... there isn't anyone I don't know, including myself, who's wondered about going on that adventure at one time or another in their lives. 

2010 Throwback: Luuit (Mt St Helens) and NE Portland from Council Crest


During our first few years here as permanent Portlanders, we lit up to Council Crest Park every chance we could.

For those of you unfamiliar with Portland geography and history, it's like this: Council Crest is a very high hill in SW Portland, topping out at 1,070 feet above sea level. It's got a gorgeous and long view almost all directions, the north being obscured by a lush grove of evergreens, and the south somewhat obscured by hills and neighborhoods that direction, though, on a clear day you can catch a glimpse of every Cascade volcano from Tahoma (Rainier) to Seekseekqua (Jefferson). Its name came when a group of church people met there for a conference in 1898 and thus decided to call it Council Crest; over the years, this evolved into it being called that because representatives of surrounding indigenous tribes thought it the idea high ground for meetings though, in actuality, that likely never occurred anywhere but in the vivid imaginations of colonizing settlers.

This day, in May, 2010, I made Luuit (St Helens) the star of the show. 

In the lower left, just above the tree line, is the Fremont Bridge. Just to the right of the tangle of ramps that it feeds into is a tower of Emanuel Hospital; the crane a presage to the seismic shift in development and income that was just then still incipient. The developing nacre of the Pearl District can be seen along the tree outline in the lower right.

In the middle distance, the Columbia River; beyond that the eastern suburban fringes of Vancouver, Washington. And, if you squint at the left-hand edge of Luuit there, you can just barely make out a round hump, and that's the summit of Tahoma (Rainier), which means that me and a great many Greater Seattleites were looking at the same thing at the same time, Advance Cascadia Fair.

Those practiced in that-was-then-this-is-now can probably make out all the changes in the cityscape since then.

04 April 2021

The Mountain And The Port


The Columbia, as I've said, is a working river.

A hard working river, it must be further defined.

And it does it all beautifully, tended to with care (some enlightened, some misguided, but that's what you get with humans) by all who are deemed temporally responsible for it. It throngs with ships but doesn't seem overwhelmingly polluted; you can walk the shores and the water seems fresher and cleaner than you'd expect, and it's in the most unique setting, with one big town on each bank but majestic volcanic ranges within easy sight.

Those port facilities are on the north bank of the Columbia, a Port of Vancouver terminal in Washington. We, of course, view from the Oregon side. I don't think Wy'east has much of a care or knows what a state is; to Wy'east, it's all one and the same. It's been here before any of us came, and it'll be here long after we go.

Here's a pan-right and extreme closeup looking up river:

That most distant bridge with the two towers and the cable between is our beleaguered and imaginatively-named Interstate Bridge, that's where I-5 crosses. The truss in the middleground is the railroad mainline bridge. The Cascade crest, beyond. It's a big world, my Willamette Valley, but surprisingly narrow. 

03 April 2021

Columbia River Pilings, Late Afternoon


And now, let's go experiential for today's coda:

Just like any working riverbank, there are pilings for things that used to be there and are there no longer and, being easily forgettable, are left to weather away. But I find riverbank pilings especially romantic, with the echoes of time and decay and other things of that nature. 

It should go without saying that the chance at a composition like this is irresistible. 

Where Two Great Rivers Meet: Kelley Point


Here we return to the recent present, a few days back on our lark to Kelley Point. This is where the mighty Willamette gives its all to the even mightier Columbia. 

To the left of that line of small pilings stretching out to that marker, Oregon's Willamette river; beyond the end of that line, stretching into the distance and off to our right, the mother river of the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia. 

On the left there, that grove of trees is the southeastern-most extent of Sauvie Island, Belle Vue Point. The indigenous name for the island is Wapato, and, at about 33 square miles, it's the largest river island in the Columbia and one of the largest in the United States.

The far shore is in the state of Washington. 

You are on the edge here in multiple ways.

The Steel Bridge, April, 2010


This was taken the same day the previous entry's was, too; end of April, 2010, this being Portland's venerable Steel Bridge as seen from the parking structure at NW Naito Parkway between Couch and Davis. Beyond that, the Louis-Dreyfus grain dock. 

The framing of the picture probably means that you could take the same shot and it wouldn't look terribly different.

The Sign of All The Times


Another throwback edition from the dearly departed Kodak: the landmark Portland, Oregon sign looking down upon the Japanese-American Historical Plaza and the Burnside Bridge of 2010.

For lease, navidad. 

02 April 2021

A-1 Truck Parts? Just Look For the Sign of the ...


On our way back from Kelley Point late that day, we decided to course down North Columbia Boulevard. Most of Columbia Boulevard is industrial, and out near the Columbia/Burgard/Lombard Tee, you ad the remote feeling as well; even though you're merely a loud shout from Saint Johns, it hides behind a rise, so one, not having told it was there, wouldn't know that it was.

And it was in this section of Columbia Boulevard that we saw the niftiest thing we've seen in rather a while:

9609 N. Columbia Blvd, Portland. At Your Service.

Guess what they sell there. Guess. Goooooo ahead ...

Right. Girl Scout Cookies and Amway SA8 laundry soap. I knew  I couldn't fool you people.

Coolest thing is to look at it from the end. It's then you can tell, without mistaking, that they sliced the outer few inches from each side of a light truck and stuck them together which is pretty creative, the more one thinks about it. And an awful good show, too. 

The Mountain, The River, The People


The beauty of the the Columbia shore near Kelley Point is that you get a really great angle on Wy'east; the drawback is that in the glooming of the late afternoon, you don't really see it clearly. A very long time ago from this vantage, the Brown Eyed Girl made a really pretty little pastel of it and if we don't have I framed, I don't know why not; I am quite in love with it.

A view of it, though, puts a lot of things in tension; you can't have the mountain and the river without the industrial port in view. Still, it makes of it a statement, a sort of silent exegesis; this is our world and this is where the heavy moving parts are. Along rivers, in back corners of the geography where shipping and commerce occur. We are a mercantile world and logistics are the sinew you'll find along the bone of those rivers.

It serves us, but sometimes, we seem the junior of it. 

Ship At Dock Near Kelley Point, Portland


From Parkrose, that day, we headed toward the end of the North Portland Peninsula. The Brown Eyed Girl deemed a visit to Kelley Point was overdue, and who am I to contradict that logic? It's solid. Iron-clad.

For those who are not of the Rose City, the North Portland Peninsula is that part, generally speaking, west of William Avenue where all streets are prefixed NORTH; the Willamette River swings northwestward before finally joining the mighty Columbia. It's an inland peninsula; two of the three defining sides are made up by the Willamette, the other, the Columbia. If you look at a map, that peninsula kind of resembles a thumb it the thumbs up position; at the tip of that thumb, on the right bank, where the Columbia and Willamette join, is Kelley Point. 

There is a City o'Portland park appropriately named after the point.

Now, also, this is the bitter end of Portland's port district. Unlike such cities as Seattle, Portland's port is out on the edge of town (there were terminals closer to downtown, but, like other long-time city residents, they're getting pushed out to the margins too). The port terminal known as Rivergate T5 is on the Willamette River just south of Kelley Point, whereas T6 is located on the south bank of the Columbia just east of that. 

All of which is a roundabout way of saying when you go down to Kelley point at the Columbia side, you are likely to see such as this:

This is the Glovis Corona, a vehicles-carrier according to VesselFinder.com:

Its current position seems to be about 100 miles west of the Columbia bar, making for the general direction of Asia. 

The patina of rust makes it look much older than 25 years; gave it a sort of post-apocalyptic look (but what doesn't have one, these days?). At first, coming through the trees toward the shore, I thought someone put up a big building over there. It's easy to forget how big these brutes are unless they sail right along side of you, or get in the news like Ever Given and the Suez Canal, a few days back.

It's also sort of dishevelled-romantic. Well, at least to this landlubber. 



The camera I'm currently using, the Canon PowerShot SX230HS, is a replacement for my late, lamented PowerShot S100 which died suddenly and tragically young. It is not the same as that little charmer, and not necessarily better in all ways; I found the most capable camera in my price range that was as close to function and temporal manufacture as the S100 was. 

In some notable ways it actually exceeds the beloved S100, and that would be in optical zoom. Whereas the S100 had 5x optical zoom, the SX230HS has 14x optical zoom. When you throw in the digital zoom you get at the end of that range, how much magnification can you get?

How about 56x? No, I didn't mistype this. And it's flawless. In a somewhat-dated, point and shoot digital camera, it's a boon.

Here's a thing I did: when at the corner of 116th and NE Shaver, in the previous missive, taking pictures of our beloved mountain, I wanted to come up with a baseline idea. So I zoomed in, stayed steady and snapped. This is what I got of this modest camera:

I mean, if I got any closer, I'd be climbing the danged thing.

A New View: Wy'east from 116th and NE Prescott


Stumbled on this one. There is a viewpoint not too far from my usual vantage point at NE 122nd and Shaver, by Rossi Farm, that provides a new frame for our beloved volcano.

This is how Wy'east appears from the corner of NE 116th Avenue and Shaver Street, at the northwest corner of the Parkrose High School Campus.

Immediately in front of us is the baseball field at Parkrose HS; the low-slung buff colored affair in the middle distance is the Burgerville on NE 122nd; beyond that, some trees; the point in pointing them out is the perponderance of deciduous trees here, which gives the whole thing a bit of a different feel. 

Not every tree in Oregon is an evergreen. Well ... just most of them.

The framing captures the imposing feeling of the mountain just rather perfectly, and actually a little better than the Rossi Farms POV. In the gestalt, though, it's not better on balance ... different. Supports a slightly different mood, that of the mountain amidst the city, as most of us usually see it.

30 March 2021

A Street-Address Map Of Silverton, Oregon


This is a major signpost in a process that's been developing all my life, really. I don't say this just to be dramatic although I do like to write as though I'm saying things to be dramatic.

City street maps have always been my jam, and, in a life full of plans that went nowhere, I'd say #1 of those was to become a mapmaker. No matter how you get those skills, and I'm self-taught there, there isn't exactly a place that accepts applications to be a mapmaker, and I am beyond shabby in my skills at making connections and networking.

I remember one time, many years ago, applying for a job with surveyors with the City o'Portland. I knew enough of surveying and mapmaking to get an interview, but I must have seemed like the most egregious poser because an interview is as far as it got. C'est la guerre, mon frere. But, during all those years, but not so much latterly (which the Brown Eyed Girl will tell you is one of my biggest problems) I dashed off a prodigious number of make-believe city maps, played with street grids, and all that.

The results are lost to time except in my memory, and I am incredible for map memory (as the Brown Eyed Girl will also tell you).

Early in life, I was born. This was a great relief to my mother who may now point out that if we did things according to my schedule, I'd have waited until I was, at a minimum, twelve. And that occurred in the Willamette Valley backcountry metropolis of Silverton. This was a peculiar place for someone obsessed with street layouts and address grids to be; McEachern's Silverton: the Morphology of an Oregon town hints at the amazing textual variety contained within Silverton's snowflake-like street plan - nothing regular about it,  a combination of little bits and parts that don't really mesh with each other.

The street grid of Silverton can be inscrutable even to the native-born. This is a point I plan on exploring going forward. It's been a curious trip. Anyway, my exploring this has resulted in the map you see embedded here: the first map I think anyone's ever made that sets out, nearly block-by-block the street addresses you can expect to find in Silverton, Oregon.

It's about a 2.3 Mb PNG and here it is:

To make it I hacked apart a PDF copy of the Oregon Dept of Transportation map of Silverton, which I was able to load into the Inkscape application and editing all the street names into a mixed-case font I liked more than was provided, then, with the aid the public GIS at the City of Silverton's website, figured out where the blocks should go, and plopped an obliqued set of red digits there (this was a common them in the maps of California cities that the AAA's California branch produced and I've always rather liked it).

This is a product which is useful even though it's not a finished thing, there's some detail there outside of town I want to add in and I can do it on a 2nd pass.

It also got me of thinking of ways to renumber and quadrant the town so as to make the address layout a little less inscrutable. But Silverton's street address plan is, as it is, quirky and interesting without being too confusing (that's the beauty of smaller-area towns like Silverton). And this too is something I'll be exploring as a thought experiment roping in a few insights from planning documents I've traipsed across in my intellectual travels.

But for now, here, a most unique map. I enjoy this. And even though I was never able to become a professional map maker, I can at least now say I've put something out there. 

28 March 2021

Man, Woman, Mt Tabor, and City View, Circa 2010


Today's throwback photo: A man and woman sharing time on a bench with a view of the tree-covered Hawthorne District and downtown Portland as it was then beyond. A western exposure from the brow of Mount Tabor.

Many things have soured about my beloved home town, but as long as there's places like Mount Tabor and Mount Tabor Park and views like this, then it's still my beloved Portland.

122nd Tent Colony At The Old Safeway


Once upon a time, not too awful long ago, there was a Safeway at 122nd and NE Glisan. Then, after several years of patronage by the surrounding neighborhood, Safeway decided that, despite the demand, just one Safeway - two miles south, at Powell Boulevard - is plenty Safeways enough for DavidDouglasLandia. 

Suspicions of a pattern of disinvestment in this area by large merchants who do not think some areas are worth their time come to mind. I shall file them for the nonce.

Since that time, other tenants have moved in alongside the still-vacant supermarket. They are more refugees of the present storms that tear at us all. And they've been here a while.

This stretches from just the corner of the defunct Safeway branch down to the corner of NE Davis Street there, and a little bit in front of the old Ron Tonkin Grand Turismo place, now known as Jordan Motorsports. This is basically across the street from Ron Tonkin's historic landmark dealership and sign.

They will stay there, doubtless, until someone finally takes the problems that put them there to begin with seriously on a systemic basis ... or they get swept, which ever comes first.

And it Portland, it's typically the sweep. 

No, I have no cheerful and witty play-out for this missive. This is the planet we live on, guys. 

The Auto Service Bay Doors So Nice They Named Them Twice


Seen on the facade of Rustom Nissan, on NE 122nd between Multnomah and Halsey, across from Courtesy Ford (the erstwhile site of Marv Tonkin Ford):

What'll it be, pal? You want double the service, or double the express? Carol Merrill is not here to help you choose, door one or door two?

There must be a subset of you had ONE job that ends in 'You know, that's so goofy ... we think we'll leave it like that".

Gets bloggers pulling out the camera, anyhow. So it goes.

Covid Vaccination Drive-Thrus At The Old 122nd Kmart?


It was reported in the media very very recently that the State of Oregon have opened a drive-through Covid vaccidnation site at Clackamas Town Center. I've heard of some people going there. I've heard also that it works really well, so this is good news. More people vaccinated, tougher time for the coronavirus, better time for us all around.

Now, here, out 122nd way, at NE Sandy Blvd, we used to have a Kmart, the last Kmart in the Portland area, I think it was. how it hung on through the wave after wave of closings, I couldn't tell you - access to the location was problematic at best, with 122nd and Sandy coming together as they do, and no possibility for a left hand turn-in from 122nd southbound. But it was the sole survivor, and now it's gone and only its big box remains. 

Although this morning I spied something other than else:

... a phalanx of five drive-through popups each indentically paired with a small tent beside and with lanes defined by orange cones leading into and out.

I'm no epidemiologist, but I'd say we're about to replicate the Clackamas Town Center idea, and I find this most encouraging and exciting.

There's a new crew in charge in the country, and they're getting the job done.

23 March 2021

Downtown Portland from the Lloyd District, circa 2010


I just downloaded about 700, a little more, photos from a Kodak EasyShare camera's card that I found that I had taken in 2010.

Eleven years ago.

So, periodically, when the creative writing well is dry, I'll dip back into this folder and share a shot. Some of them are quite mundane, but they all come from the period of about 2010 through 2013, and some of them are obviously different, and several of them are impossible to reproduce because Portland's growth has become glandular in these latter days: either there's a building in the way, or there's a building on top of where it happened.

This particular one was taken in 2010 from the floor of the Red Lion Hotel near the Lloyd Center that that year's OryCon had its Hospitality Suite on. The view from the window at the elevator lobby was always splendid and gave a great angle. This day, there were clouds muscling over the West Hills that also bulk up behind the downtown towers.

Not only has the profile of downtown Portland changed, likely as not, there's now a high-rise between this viewpoint and downtown, so this is an impossible shot now.

Bridge in the foreground is the Burnside. There are now several high-rise apartment towers that would obscure that view. 

We must go up there, get a 'today' shot, and I'll post them side-by-side. Stay tuned for that.

20 March 2021

The Northside Street Names, They Are a-Changin'


Springtime, and the City of Portland's fancy turns to renaming streets.

Well, maybe not every springtime. But I remember May, about a year ago, where the CoP created a short-ton of new street names by the simple expedient of re-christening streets in the leading-zero segment of SW as S. Goodbye, SW Macadam Avenue; Hello, S Macadam Ave. Well, they're at it again.

Perhaps with an eye toward some sort of increased development in the city's far north margin, the CoP has deemed it possibly confusing the way street names change on that rim of town. Lombard Street and Columbia Boulevard, together, define a rather hard edge to the north side of town; south of these two streets, north and northeast neighborhoods march in stately array, and are abruptly ended at these arterials and the railroad line they dance around. North of this, the Columbia floodplain, meadows, a major international raceway which is also the site of Vanport City, industrial tracts, auto salvage yards, a branch of the Oregon State Dept of Corrections, and Portland International Airport. And I suppose it can be a bit disorienting:

Starting at Kelley Point, where North Marine Dr bends south to become the outermost end of N Lombard Street, said street descends inward, goes through a bit of a chicane, and becomes N. Columbia Blvd. If you fail to turn right on N Burgard Rd, it's Columbia Blvd upon which you'll remain. Turn on Burgard, however, go through another turn, and the name changes once again to Lombard. Now, in the business district of Saint Johns, Lombard pics up the US 30 BYP shield, which debouches onto N Philadelphia Ave from the Saint Johns Bridge, then for the next seven (give or take) miles, maintains the name Lombard Street from N going into NE, then, and this is unheralded, once you pass the NE 47th Ave overpass, you are no longer on NE Lombard Street but NE Portland Highway (the name is borrowed from the official ODOT name for the road). 

The road remains NE Portland Highway until the wide curve passes you by NE 72nd Avenue; it' s NE Killingsworth Street after that, until its terminus at NE Sandy Blvd in central Parkrose. 

There are other anomalies; the most irritating (a mild irritation to be sure) being the small snakey part of Columbia that starts at NE 89th and (for now, anyway) Killingsworth and ducks under the railroad trestle there by the Airport Holiday Inn to join old Columbia Blvd. This minuscule road is called NE Columbia Parkway. Just that. No other part of the road.

To fix and rationalize all this, the City o'Portland has devised a thing called the Columbia-Lombard Wayfinding Project and this simple thing aims to fix this by doing, majorly, the following:
  • Renaming the part of Lombard Street at the city's extreme northwestern corner, alongside Port of Portland Terminal 5 and Kelley Point, as N Columbia Blvd.
  • Eliminating the names of N Burgard Rd, NE Portland Hwy and NE Killingsworth St. east of NE 72nd Avenue in favor of a unified N/NE Lombard St along this entire length.
  • Small street renames and adjustments to tributary streets.
The result is a Columbia Blvd that runs unbroken from Kelley Point all the way to NE 89th Avenue and a Lombard Street that runs unbroken from just west of Saint Johns all the way into Parkrose. This CoP illustration will make it a bit more graphically clear:

As someone who has lived in the city for almost forty years and has been addicted to the Portland street grid for longer than that, I can see the practicality of it, but I'll miss the quirkiness of having a road neither originating from outside or nor necessarily travelling toward or away from this town being called Portland Highway (there's a "N Portland Road" that exists similarly, so not all is lost). Also, seeing a level segment of Lombard defining the 5500 block north of Burnside will take a little getting used to.

But, just a little more than one year out, this will be the new reality. 

Update your maps, kids. 

10 March 2021

Veranda PBN Progress, Plate 1


The first step, as I've said before, in completing a PaintWorks project, is to cover the black area and then the gray area.

I don't know if that's best practices or not, but they are the most optically-attractive part of the design, and compel me to go there first. Tonight, I covered the black areas (leaning over to check if I've closed the black paint pot, yes, yes, I did).

And thinking of the parenthetical in the statement above makes me want to point out one of the ways in which PaintWorks quality really shines out. These are acrylic paints, as are the vast majority of PBN kits you'll find today (when I was a kid they were as likely as not oil paints, as some of my stained shirts of the time would attest). Acrylics are versatile, mix handily, give themselves to a bunch of effects that look like watercolor or oil, but they dry quick, yo, and once they do, they're literally a sort of plastic. You can't thin them down or reuse them like watercolors.

I've lost at least one PBN paint pot this way. Forgetting to cap your paint at the end of a sesh might just cost you that pot. In the pot, though, PW paints dry slow enough that if you leave it uncapped overnight, you won't necessarily lose that color. You do have to put some water in there, thin it out, and make sure you cap it; dry acrylic paint is dry acrylic paint. But, you leave this open overnight, you don't necessarily lose it.

Don't take that for granted though. Like I just day, dry acrylic paint is dry acrylic paint. I have a paint morguefile, but not everyone does. Be careful about this. 

Judgmental Tabi The Art Kitten Is Judgemental


While I was setting up my next PBN experience the current studio kitty, Tabitha, who has become very warm and affectionate (if still a little spazzy) as she evolves into the family, stopped by to, if they look on her face is any indication, render judgement:

The judgement is more than likely you're making it hard for me to get to the windowsill, pal. I have rights, you know. 

Those scallop shells have hung there for so long that I've kind of accepted them into the ylem of my existence. I think they came from my time in the SCA, as a site token, I'm pretty sure, actually, but have forgotten which event. But I love scallop shells, probably from all those gas stations we fuelled at while I was growing up. 

The New PBN: PaintWorks 79-91437, Veranda, Dempsey Essick


We parked on the downhill when completing Cat Signs, so we shall proceed with velocity into the next project. 

Allow me to introduce you to PaintWorks #97-91437, Veranda, design credited to on Dempsey Essick. The box perforce:

The scene suggests something of the atmosphere of Dixie, a hint of genteel living with the horse and buggy in the distance in the trees on the right.

There's something to that Southern note. The artist, Dempsey Essick, is based in Lexington, North Carolina. The artist's (who retired in 2015) work sounds a long, warm note featuring hummingbirds and other flying critters, serene rural scenes and pastoral Southern buildings lushly attended by the foliage one expects to find near them. 

Here, now, on my much-beloved palette, the 18 colors that come with the set, in the wonderfully-designed PaintWorks pots. I love this design; easy to find colors, easy to keep organized. Also the brush which, while of a higher quality than most PBN kits you'll find, still doesn't quite satisfy; I use my own, usually a #2 round for acrylics and watercolors. I've found the most satisfaction with the "Gray Matter" brand, for what that's worth.

And last, but not least, the piece itself, the panel ready to accept the paint. 20-by-14, standard for PaintWorks' larger pieces; as usual, what stands out are the areas where black is supposed to go, and the gray areas where the secondary color note will be placed.

The deck area of the veranda I'm anticipating with both excitement and trepidation. There the borders between the colors is dotted, calling for drybrushing for creating soft blends between the colors, and this really creates the effect of a shiny, painted deck. I have so far struggled with drybrushing so I'm looking forward to confronting this and making a real effort to master the technique here.

Also note the wide-open unnumbered area on that deck. Unnumbered areas usually mean you're going to paint them white (sometimes what's unnumbered on the panel is numbered on the diagram due to space and clarity issues, so confirming on the diagram is always essential) and that's just what's going to happen here. I will, however, not be applying the white; as I learned long ago, when you're painting in acrylic or watercolor, the white of the paper or panel is almost always sufficient. It simplifies things, and also demands a certain amount of caution; the fix for accidentally painting the area may mean you have to paint that area white anyway to make it look totally right. 

The color approach and theme of the piece is something outside of what I usually like to go for, so this is a little outside my comfort zone, but it's exciting and as a completed piece, should like quite lovely.

So, on we go. 

09 March 2021

Cat Signs PBN Progress, Plate 6 and Final


This is it, the end product of the PaintWorks kit 73-91655, Cat Signs:

You want to pet the cat, don't you? Of course you do.

Now, on to the next person, place, or thing. 

08 March 2021

Cat Signs PBN Progress, Plate 5


This is Cat Signs at the closing bell this morning. 

It's all starting to feel quite cosy (I'm choosing the British spelling for reasons) isn't it? The Craven "A" sign and the wood of the wall in back generate quite a bit of warmth.

Just the quilt in the SE corner and the outside-the-window in the NW to go. That NW corner I'm going to take a bit of care with, as there is, yes, yet again, my old nemesis, dry-brushing to be done there. But I approach the challenge with joy and a sense of adventure. 

Portrait Of The Kitteh As An Old Dude


This is Octavius, our senior boi, in the studio with both me and the Brown Eyed Girl, today:

He usually gets his old-boi food when me and the missus are hanging out in the studio. He is, however, not getting fed right now ... and he has questions.

"Mewr. Meowr." 

Like that.

Cat Signs PBN Progress, Plates 3 and 4


This last weekend was a busy one, in the way that a work colleague who's healing up from a serious injury had to call out twice and I wound up working one 11-hour day and one 10-hour day on very short notice and I didn't even feel like doing much reading or writing so I got up to the PBN easel and filled in some more color ...

... and it felt good. 

These are the last two checkpoints on Cat Signs, and the whole thing is coming together with a shout, I must say.

In the first one, plate 3, I begin filling in the labels on the old boxes that support the box the fuzzbutt is smugly reclining in. 

I can also tell now that this is a very British shorthair. How? Google makes it easy. Googling Craven "A" Cigarettes and Pelaw tell me that both brands are British with a long history of popularity. The tobacco brand, Wikipedia tells me, was manufactured in Britain by a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, and, Wikipedia also tells me, the founder of Pakistan smoked 50 per day even when ill with tuberculosis, and Charles deGaulle rather fancied them after being deprived of his usual brand during exile in World-War-Deuce. 

It also tells me it was named after the third Earl of Craven, though not why. 

I also gather that Pelaw is a brand of polishes that have been around for a very very long time. I've found references to metal polish and shoe polish and it was apparently quite beloved for a very long time.

I know not what the Lyons' refers to.

After detailing the labels under the moggy we turn the corner and begin filling in the quilt int he corner and the tools and tool-shed impedimenta in the northeast corner of the panel. It's at that point the work really starts to pop for me and take on that impression of space and volume, that magic moment in doing these that I love so much. 

Gonna enter the home stretch very soon now. 

04 March 2021

Cat Signs PBN Progress, Plate 2


It was my goal to fill in the kitty cat in the picture. 

Mission: accomplished. 

Beatific smile, scritchable fur, ears that beg for fondling, boopable nose; it's all there. The colors are very well designed here; the lighter colors aren't too far apart from each other but have enough contrast to produce that beloved tabby pattern. The darkest color, a very very shaded brown, gives the perfect counterpoint to the light cream and buff colors. It's a pleasure, this cat.

Where they fits, they sits; if you don't have scritches or treats, it's OK, make an appointment for later and they will pencil you in if you promise to have the proper accessories at that time.

Cat Signs PBN Progress, Plate 1


This is the first stage of Cat Signs: 

The PaintWorks paintings, as usual, start with the black areas colored black (and those are psychologically attractive so I did that first) then the next dominant color, in gray. That, this time, was a mustard-golden-yellow, and we could predict, if we hadn't first looked at the picture on the box, that this was going to predominate in warm, happy tones. 

The lovely vintage typography, labelling,and signage is already evident. 

28 February 2021

Cat Signs, The Next PBN


This is the next PBN work I'll be doing:

Dimensions PaintWorks' 73-91655, Cat Signs, by Geoffrey Tristram. 

Fluffbutts? Yes. Vintage label design? Yes yes. Both? Yes, please. 

Sunrise on the Last Day of February 2021


The sunrise, today, the last day of February 2021, from a work site somewhere in northeast Portland:

That is all, for now.

The Bob Ross Paint-by-Number Triptych


So, here's the final result of doing the three tiny numberless paint-by-number works in the Bob Ross By The Numbers kit.

... a mountain scene, Bob's iconic portrait, and a covered bridge. Just like Bob's paintings, the style lends itself to freedom if you just go with it. 

Each one of the pictures has an instructional diagram. The colors to be used are keyed to numbers in the diagram and you are given the seven colors to mix as you will. As noted before, the numbers on the diagram were actually left off the panels, and you could write the numbers on, say, with pencil, if you wanted, but the pictures are not all that complex and, with just a couple of oopsies, I was able to refer to the diagrams to put the colors in the right places.

Also, recall that, despite depicting above the colors and brush included with the kit, I did not use them. Anyone who wants to get this kit, I recommend using closely corresponding colors from elsewhere, even if they're cheapo acrylic pots from the craft store or craft acrylic. Get the colors as close as you can then mix. The colors in the kit are kind of a mockery of Bob's work; poor quality materials make the work hard due to the frustration and energy expended in working round the issues those poor quality materials cause. There's no joy in painting with these lousy-quality acrylics in hard-to-open and close, tiny pots. 

The brush is cute though.

25 February 2021

A Shot In The Arm Of History


So, today, I got the 2nd shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. I work in an occupation where those who serve the needs of medically fragile people occasionally come in contact with me, and that's all the detail I'll render unto now. Suffice it to say that I sit at a bottleneck through which a chance encounter could be passed to someone who would pass it amongst many; and, conversely, those who pass amongst many may encounter me. And so, it was done.

The Covid-19 vaccination center for the greater Portland area was, as the news has well-documented by now, the Oregon Convention Center. Though I have lived in Portland a number of decades now, I have not yet been in the OCC, though I have admired its architecture. I was hoping to see the inside of it at sometime in my lifetime, but not like this ... no, never like this.

But who knew this was coming. Yeah, I know, everyone after a certain point, even those who refused to believe. Well, I didn't really think it would play out quite this way. 

One month ago, when I got my first jab, there were a great many people in Army fatigues, and that was a little off-putting but, coming from me, that's an incredibly childish thing to say. Those were faithful Oregon Army National Guard soldiers, doing the dutiful thing that they signed up to do. They were neat, friendly, and very proper about it. And if I get a little anxious about it all, well, it's because that's what a lifetime reading apocalyptic speculative fiction will do for you. I'm quite glad that they were there.

The procedure was mundane, almost mechanical, which is a comfort. Means someone thought this out and had a plan in place, and that is a comfort. Entered at the south end of the main concourse, followed the line though various check-ins and filled in a form; sat at a table, was administered dose #1, waited in the observation area for 30 minutes to see that there were no ill effects, sent on my way.

Today I was there in the afternoon and it was really very much the same. I didn't have a paper or email confirming my appointment so I stepped to a lady standing at a table with a laptop who confirmed my name was on there and passed through; went up to the same room, talked to more or less the same people as last time, got the jab, sat in the observation area again, then left.

They asked that no photos be taken while in line though there was a 'selfie area' (how 21st Century is that, dear reader?) provided (I could see nobody celebrating with selfies though). So I have no pictures of the event. However, now mounted on a diary page for someone to find in my wake in whatever aftermath we have in front of is, is this:

That circular red badge identified me as one of the Moderna group, for routing to the proper inoculators, and the green label was my reminder to stay in the observation area until 2:28 PM, Wednesday, the 24th of February, 2021. 

There are questions and answers which are unique to every generation. My grand-cestors lived life though the depression, and when they saved and recycled and practices parsimonious habits, you knew without asking that they lived during the Great Depression. Similarly, we're going to have an entire generation of socially-distanced mask-wearers who compulsively wash their hands (the hand-washing's not that bad a thing, TBH) and will tell you their pandemic-inflected memories involving being vaccinated with a whole heapin' lot of other strangers, and you'll know they lived through Covid, no question about it.

And, so it goes.

21 February 2021

What A Difference A Paint Makes (Painting A Very Small Bob Ross, By The Numbers, Round 2)


In the immediately-previous missive, I tried painting the PBN style tiny Bob Ross portrait from the set Bob Ross By The Numbers, and documented the results which, while fun, were pretty sad.

Despite using my own brushes (the only things PBN brushes are good for are spreading masking fluid then discarding) the effort was doomed by the low-low-low quality paints included in the kit. Packaged in small, hard-to-open plastic pots, it mixed poorly and flowed even worse. You may follow this link to the previous entry if you're too pandemic-tired to scroll down, if you must. I was okay to settle for the result as I wasn't trying to reproduce La Giaconda after all, just have a bit of fun. But! The Brown Eyed Girl informed me, post-painting, that she wanted to scan this so she could color it in on the computer in Photoshop. 

No longer possible! Oh, well ... we just got us another from I've Been Framed (they're cheap, as they say, at twice the price ... about $10 at IBF, probably even less when you buy on-line). And she scanned them and has them as a digital file and colored on in the 'shop and it does look quite nice. Also, I was able to try something I wanted to try.

It's said, by more than one authority, that, when given the chance, one should spend as much as able when buying art supplies such as paint and brushes. The savings in aggravation and having to cope with (and replace) bad-quality materials alone is supposedly worth it. And there are quality differences between student quality and serious hobbyist quality and professional quality. The aspiring artist frequently does not have the experience on embarking to really make a confident choice and lowballs it, only to spend a little more next time. 

I'm being a bit melodramatic; you're not buying a car here, after all. But it means something because the less aggravation over your materials the more likely an art habit won't be dropped early. What of the quality question, though? Does it make that much of a difference? This experiment shows that it does, and I'll prove it, starting here.

Now, PBN acrylics aren't renowned for their high quality no matter who you buy it from. Some are better than others; Royal & Langnickel are just acceptable and Paint Works are pretty fair, for PBN, but none of them are ever going to be confused with Grumbacher or Liqutex Basic. The quality of the acrylics in the Bob Ross By The Numbers set, though, is bad enough on their own; the producer of the set should publicly apologize to the Bob Ross estate for putting the Ross name on a box containing them. 

What if I found comparable Paint Works PBN colors and tried them? I've had good experience with them, they mix and flow well. To the morgue! The thing about PBNs is you'll frequently have leftover paint, and I keep them, morgue-file style, in a box. The Bob Ross kit came with seven colors: a blue, a red, a green, a yellow, a brown, white and black. Could I find approximate replacements in the paint morgue?

... yes, as it turned out, I could. The tall pots in the back row are from old Paint Works kits; the small ones in the foreground were the ones from the Bob Ross kit. 

That front row may now exeunt; they shall not be heard from again.

I proceed as before. For Bob's face, hair, skin, and parts of the brush as directed, I used brown; highlight tone was a tinted brown, pure brown for the middle tone, and shaded brown for the dark tones. 

Then I proceeded to the blues. there was a light blue, a dark blue, and a blue-gray. As with the brown I mixed white and black to get the tint and the shade, and let the pure blue dominate the sky. Perhaps I should have tinted the dark blue a bit to lighten that sky up, but I'm looking at the finished product and I'm still okay with it. 

There were two greens; the pure green for the light green areas and a shaded green for the dark green areas. Filling those in, the painting is complete.

The result looks pretty good, given the limits of the materials and the context of the form. But where the real point of the whole pursuit becomes plain when the two paintings are compared side-by-side, as does the relative quality of the paint:

What sort of difference even a minimal increase in quality make? All the difference in the world, really. Mixing, flow, coverage ... it's blindingly obvious. 

06 February 2021

Painting A Very Small Bob Ross, By The Numbers


So, I took out one of those teeny-tiny Bob Ross PBNs and I did it. And I couldn't resist, I wanted to save the Bob portrait until last, but my compulsion just wasn't having that.

The skin and hair tones were noted as 1, 2, 3, in order from light to dark. One of the seven colors is a brown color; for the lighter ones, I tinted the brown, for the darker, I shaded.

Then came the blue of the sides of the mountains toward the light and the bluish white of Bob's shirt. I took the blue that came with the kit and tinted again.

The parts of the mountains in shadow as well as the highlights of Bob's shirt were created of a gray with just enough blue to make it bias the blue's direction. 

Unlike most PBNs, abutting regions were colored with the same color. That was a bit of a distraction, but not near as much as the suckyness of the paint, which refused to flow evenly. That's a bit of a thing that you run into with PBNs, but this really pushed it.

Finishing off with a pure blue for the sky and other appropriate areas, and a pure green and a shaded green for the tow different intensities of green the diagram called for.

I was the most unhappy with Bob's hair. the unevenness of flow really did a bad job there, so I made another shade fo brown and overlayed the paint already there. By improving the contrast between the hair and the background, it actually improved this a bit.

It ain't pretty, but it can live up by by Funko POP! Bob Ross. They'll make famous friends.