18 December 2022

The Very Last Day Of A Very Good Library (Well, This Version Of It, Anway)


This is, as Jerry Clower once said, a momentum occiasion.

I've got a couple of photos to share with you all, as I usually do. They come with a story, as they usually do. It's better sweet.

This is the interior of the Mighty Mighty Midland Branch of the Multnomah County Library as I took mere minutes ago. This is the last time I'll ever see it, at least this way.

The Multnomah County Library is going on a buildng initiative. This will include making the Gresham branch the east side flagship and updating neighborhood branches into something resembling true community centers.

First two up are Holgate and Midland. This means that Midland will be closed for the next year and a half while the revisions are being made and, so, I'm pretty torn about this. Firstly, I've seen the diagrams and artist's conceptions of what Midland will look like as of the middle of 2024, and it's going to be a library user's paradise, straight up. Big wide areas for sitting and meeting, a big patio extension so you can enjoy the library outside when the weather is fine, big meeting areas. Really lovely. But we have grown so very accustomed to Midland-the-way-it-is, the comfort and familiarity, that we are feeling like a cornerstone of our lives is being taken away.

I mean, this building itself is scarcely 25 years old. Hardly even broken in, as buildings go. And it has the most lovely them, that of "Talking Leaves" ... there are leaves in the ceiling, as one can see. That was part of the design. The delightful and huge painting anchoring the east end, near the main entry is a landmark of life. 

The work itself is called Talking Leaves. I don't know the name of the artist but I'll have it before I leave the building. 

There's poetry on the outside of the building and I imagine it'll go. I do hope the painting is in the next edition of this building.

We want to honor the memory of Midland-that-was. We have had more than 15 happy years coming and going from here, and I'm sure we'll have a number happy years after the new version opens, but the interregnum will be a bit of an ordeal. We'll probably be visting Rockwood, or Gresham if Rockwood's too busy. Rockwood is definitely where we're going to be picking up our holds. It's on the way to things, in this new life.

Abysinnia, Midland-that-was. 

I'll miss the clock tower. 

12 December 2022

The Most Absurd Book Currently Existing


Well, on a certain level, it is a logic puzzle and can be approached as such, but Wordle is such a thing of the 'Web that it just seems ... well, a paper book of Wordle problems is just missing the point of it all.

Looks like Silicon Valley just re-invented the puzzle book. 

A Riot of Color


One side of the watercolors aisle at I've Been Framed on SE Foster. It is a place that just makes me feel good.

Where Do You Get The Perfect Thingy?


Why, at I've Been Framed Art Supply Center, which is perfect in every damned way, of course. This is what it looks like:

What it is is a 3-D Printed watercolor pan insert for your retired Altoids tin. Retired Altoids tins very readily lend themselves to pocked art boxes and urban sketchery, and this makes it all dead-simple.

If you had something that you thought was a perfect thingy, well, I'm sorry, you're wrong, forget arguing with me, choose some other hill to die on, this is the perfect thingy and it's from IBF, so your argument is invalid. 

Hamilton in SE Portland


Portland gets pretty silly about its sign-toppers, and sometimes artistic and thoughtful, but I've never seen a unique one, and not like this one only on a certain intersection of SE 62nd Avenue:

Mi esposa spotted that as we drove past and was, for a short time, annoyed by it because the type was so small in passing (valid). Figured it was just a matter of time before we found another but no joy there; had to circle back.

Ev'ryone give it up for America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman: LAFAYETTE.

Now, even I, with your standard sub-standard American history schooling, am aware of Lafayette. What I didn't know is that it's a line from the song "Guns and Ships" from the musical Hamilton ... I'm not much for musicals, you see, not that we can usually afford a ticket. 

Keeping your eye out for references, though, is free. And you do never know what you'll find in Portland sometimes. 

05 October 2022

A Mural on SE Water Avenue


There is a place at 1320 SE Water Avenue called "Tipsee and Spice", which is a bakery of a sort, and on the side facing Water Avenue, they have this mural:

I do recognize RGB: I do not, I am abashed to say, recognize the elegant black woman on the left. Never the less, the mural rocks. 

01 October 2022

On The Occasion Of The Passing Of My Mother


The end was not as I'd evisioned to be. 

Is it ever, for anyone?

In a room in Kohler Pavilion, at OHSU, here in Portland, my Mother, who'd lived on this planet four months beyond her 83rd birthday, left us. I won't say what it was at this time, or maybe ever, here, but it wasn't Covid. 

OHSU, for those of you who don't know, it ironically located on a somewhat inaccessable hill. Marquam Hill, they call it. Pill Hill, most of us call it. And it's this organic complex of buildings that have been growing there since the first quarter of the 20th Century. And, as you can see above, it has commanding, stunning views.

It was at the end of one of the corridors my Mother was in. They took very good care of her, and no matter what one thinks of where health care is in this country has gone, compassion, grace, and patience run deep in the staff at OHSU.

My sister was there. God bless her, honor her, and keep her but she's carried most of this load, emotionally and physically. My sister has become the most adult person I know. Her and Mother, well, I suppose as far as I'm concerned, the only people more tightly bonded than those two were probably born conjoined. 

Mom's lungs were filled with fluid, and her last days, her last hours, she couldn't speak us. That was the toughest part.

On the last day, in the last hours, my aunt (there were five of us family in the room besides Mother: my Aunt, the second oldest woman child in that cohort of the family, her daughter (my cousin), my younger brother, my sister, and myself), saw that Mom was trying to say something, and she figured out Mom wanted to say what she was looking at. She managed to write it out on a piece of paper (it was a scrawl, which was a bit heartbreaking in and of itself, because Mom's handwriting was always exemplary schoolbook cursive) and what it said was, what it said she was looking at was, a bunch of beautiful children.

I've never been a particularly attentive son, nor the closest sibling. I orbit out there in the dark somwhere and my family has always been accepting of me the way I am, which I am grateful for. But you can't feel as though your life has been mis-spent if, at the end of your mother's life, she still has that to say about you. It's a tight club and a good membership to have. 

She wrote it on a piece of paper. I'm honored to have that piece of paper, and what a thing: it's not often you have someone's last words written out for you, by them. This piece of paper is, and always will be, a treasure. 

At about 4:30 PM that day, the ventilator was removed. Breathing became labored, sounded like the sounds of a rock tumbler. By 5:10 PM, she had gone. It was a curiously placid thing, almost an anti-climax. We all wept. She stayed there as if merely asleep. It's a peculiar thing, how mundane death looks in its first few minutes. I continued to hold her hand as I really wasn't ready for it to be over yet (who ever is?). Me, my brother, my sister, my aunt, and my cousin talked with each other and laughed and cried as we all got accustomed to the idea that this is our world now, one without this woman in it.

I left the room and went to my wife, quiet, strong support. She had been taking pictures of the view with my camera (how could you not?) and then I took several. The view from Kohler Pavilion is unparalled save for flight. 

My sister, my self, and my brother, all went the next place we had to go; it's what you do when this happens in your life. You do the next thing that makes any sense at all. 

I took pictures because this is how I deal. This is my world and my sight of it is how I connect, and this is what the world looked like, on the meeting of three far-flung siblings, on the occiasion of the death of our Mother. 

A View Of Oaks Amusement Park


We have our very own old-school amusement park here in Portland, on the river, in the southeast part of town; The Oaks. 

Oaks Amusement Park. 

This is the view from the Sellwood Boulevard bluff. That's real Portland history there, a modestly-sized amusement park that has existed for more than 100 years.

As you can see from this elevated view, it's not one of those spectacle parks. It doesn't have a huge, vomit-inducing roller coaster, no monsters of special effects. just a modest carnival midway and a lovely river-side location. 

There's also a world-famous roller-rink, which, along with the park itself, has survived ten decades of ups, downs, and hundred-year floods

The last time I saw it on TV was in an episode of Leverage which was set in the 1940s and featured a plot on the violent racism of the times. That show, I tell you, was a gem.

This is one of the most Portland things there is, and it's a little hard to find (though the tagline I remember hearing on KEX radio growing up, "at the east end of the Sellwood Bridge!" goes a long way toward helping anyone find it.

It's good for a midway stroll if you're not into rides, and there's all the good-bad midway food. 

Houses With A View Along Sellwood Blvd


There are a number of southeast-Portlanders who won enough in the lottery of life to afford addresses along SE Sellwood Boulevard. 

They undoubtedly have views I'd conceivably kill for. 

The combination of architecture and square-to-the-compass property orientation and location along a street trending diagonally give the impression of fishermen's houses along a street in a coastal town overlooking the ocean. 

A great deal that happens in Oregon is indirectly related to the ocean, so maybe it's not too far off the beam. 

They don't have a view of the sea, but they do have an awful nice view. 

The Far End of SE Stark Street - The Stark Street Bridge


Here, in the woods just a minute east of Troutdale, at the brow of the bank of the Sandy River, is where SE Stark Street, in its long traverse, comes to a rather abrupt end.

The end of Stark curves around the top of a bluff above the Sandy River like a crooked finger, dropping as you go east. At this point, I'm actually facing northwest which somewhat disorients if you're familiar with Stark on the east-west gridiron. 

The far end of the bridge is a t-intersection with Historic Columbia River Hwy on its way out to Springdale, Corbett, Vista House, and points east in the Columbia Gorge. I am on the end of the Gorge here; that bluff on the other end of the bridge is one of its ramparts. This is as far east as SE Stark Street goes; there is no more after this.

The Bridge is rather narrow. Doing what I do now, I have to occasionally drive a truck over this bridge. That makes me hyper-aware of how narrow this bridge is. But nothing amiss as long as you take it slow and easy. 

26 September 2022

The Rink at Oaks Park


The bluff above Oaks Bottom afforded us this view, too.

There you see the building that contains the famous Oaks Park Roller Rink, still all-skatin' it for going on for nearly 118 years. It's survived eras, ruinous floods, and periods of less-than-optimal maintenance. It's appeared on TV shows and in childhoods of several generations.

It remains immaculate. 

Downtown Portland from Five Miles Away, On Sellwood Boulevard


SE Sellwood Boulevard isn't a main-street sort of boulevard. It's one of those little, short, charming boulevards that is sprinkled around Portland that rewards you for following it.

This one rewards you with a stellar view of downtown.

I bet I've taken this approximate picture before and if I could only find the picture I took whenever I took it, I cold do one of those throwback pairs, but there's no time right now, and I have so many pictures to look through. 

The hill to the left is topped, of course, by OHSU. I'll be going there tomorrow for reasons which I may reveal at a later time. It the middle distance is, of course, Ziggurat Central, beautiful downtown Portland, with building both recognizable and un-, and I have been in this town long enough to know that it used to be strikingly different.

At our feet, the base of the bluff, is Oaks Bottom, an official wildlife refuge and something we collectively try to keep natural. We are doing a pretty good job over all, because here you can mash together the built and the primitive in one photo ... and it don't look too bad.

Portland is still a beautiful place, after all these years. 

A Swing Sets In Sellwood-Moreland


Along SE Sellwood Boulevard, right about where SE Flavel Street and 11th Avenue intersect it, there's a child's swing.

The old-fashioned type. Two ropes and a board. The kind that would send Ray Bradbury off writing a story.

Calls no real attention to itself really ... which means you can't possibly miss it. 

As we left the area, as a matter of fact ... a child started to use it. 

17 September 2022

NE Broadway near the Rose Quarter, Nov 2017


I'm not quite sure why we were traveling west on NE Broadway on a November day in 2017, but we were, and the composition spoke to me (as long shots down streets tend to do).

The red lights in order of increasing distance are NE Victoria Ave, N Williams Ave, N Vancouver Ave. Ahead are the grain facilities just north of the Rose Quarter along the river; just on the right hand side girders of the arch of the Fremont Bridge can be seen. 

15 September 2022

Sunlight Downpour, Rockwood, 181st and SE Stark


Just more shafts of sunlight I saw coming back home from work today. 

Rockwood, 181st and SE Stark. 

It's been like this the past couple of days, with the clouds and air the way it's been. 

13 September 2022

Yoshida's Haven at the Other End Of Stark


Oblique Coffee is at the 'lower' end of Stark Street. This is at the bitter end of the road.

From the river in the middle of Portland to the end that crosses Sandy in nearly sixteen miles. Stark has a great deal of history to it, and a lot of that history has to do with the automobile and city-to-city transport. An artifact of that is located on the south side of Stark, just before it crosses the Sandy River. 

Stark Street begun to evolve into its current form at about the time the automobile became popular. Back then, not long after the first years of the Twentieth Century passed by, roads existed but were poor; various car-ownership societies formed something of a national movement (the "Good Roads" movment) to promote the building of suitable facilities that would let them go out and enjoy thier newfangled 'cars' in the forests and wilderness. 

The utmost end of Stark Street is, then, the way it is because of an organization called the Portland Auto Club. They wanted a nice place to drive to and that urge eventually became an auto campgrounds and a destination picnic spot for car owners of the day.

Down the years it eventually came into the hands of Junki Yoshida of Yoshida's Sauces fame, and I understand he lived there for a while. More latterly the property has been donated to the Mt. Hood Community College Foundation. It's an event venue now: weddings and things of that nature. Across from that is a fine-dining spot, Junki's Riverview Restaurant. 

The view is still free. 

12 September 2022

More Oblique Art On Stark


The A-Frame sign in front of Oblique Coffee is delightful enough it deserves its own entry. It totally echoes the decor ethic of the shop.

Constructed of doors and paint and creativity and hand work. In the place where the old hours were, it even sports a palimpsest. 

Oblique Art On Stark


I do not know if anyone at Oblique Coffee was responsible for nailing this to the 'phone pole outside their shop, but it is an apt depiction of what some days feel like without the coffee.

We can call it The Decaffienated Scream. 

11 September 2022

Just A Bit Of SE Stark Near 30th


No agenda here, no message, no intended subtext.

Just an angle on SE Stark St from just east of SE 30th Avenue up to about 28th (that's where that little crest is). It's a particularly cozy corner of the universe with an atmosphere that Portland progress still hasn't completely covered over. 

There's a real antique of a building on the SE corner of 28th and Stark that used to be a old-school service station, back in the day when cars were new, you can tell it by the architecture. The Goodfoot lounge is still there; there's a pizza joint next to that and, in a small tin-sided building, an art gallery and a place that used to be the home of an ultra-left alt-media operation called The Portland Alliance, though I understand that has a Beaverton address now, which is ironic. 

Well, clearly I need to get some shots of that corner, if I'm going to rhapsodize so.

I'll never fall out of love with this town.

Oblique Coffee Co.


There's a lovely small-batch coffee roaster at SE 30th Place and Stark Street, across the street from Laurelhurst Village care center, a place that, at one time, had been known as Mount St. Joseph. 

The place is called Oblique Coffee Roasters and it's in a extraordinarily charming rehabbed corner store at the corner of SE 30th Place and Stark Street. They've survived the pandemic in fine style and have great tasting coffee and lattes. The caffe Americano I had had a broad-chested flavor but was pleasantly smooth; bold without sharp edges and nuanced smoothness.

They have little cinnamon pull-apart muffins that were also quite tasty.

I've given but two glimpses here but they set the tone. The building and the business revels in its history. It's old-old Portland combined with old-Portland touches like antique Blitz-Weinhard beer cans and I also saw a book about Bill Walton there. The charm and the quality of the coffee there both sold me hard.

And the Brown-Eyed Girl has testified she'd not had a better au-lait from any other place for a while. 

Mulugeta Seraw


In 1988, an Ethiopian immigrant was murdered in inner southeast Portland. 

But I get ahead of myself.

On a number of street blades on corners near SE 28th and Stark, and a little north and a little east of this, you will see this topping them:

A lot of people know about it, but a lot don't, and I see the questions about them, so I figured I'd leave this here to be found.

It's an unusual design. The gentleman's photo, the unfamiliar script, the lifespan meted in one set of numbers on one side and another set, with seven years' difference, on the other. I'll tell you a little about that, now. For the back story, one can check out this Wikipedia page on Mulugeta Seraw; if you don't go there, understand this much: on a night in 1988, on SE 31st Avenue between Stark and Burnside, three local white supremacist skinheads affiliated with the White Aryan Resistance and another group called East Side White Pride encountered the then-28-year-old man and, indicting him on being African and an immigrant, beat him to death with a baseball bat, because amongst white supremacists this amounts to a capital crime.

The top of display is a cameo depiction of Mulugeta Seraw, which should be an obvious point. His name is rendered in the Amharic language in the Ge'ez script which is the lingua franca of the Ethiopian nation and its graphic method of expression, respectively. The difference in the years comes from the fact that, in Ethiopia, they reckon years a little differently; there is a seven years' difference. Mr. Seraw was born in 1960 by our calendar but 1953 by the Ethiopian one.

So it's a memorial to Mulugeta Seraw in the area which he was murdered, an attempt to never forget what happened and also a way to remember why. These are battles which we still fight today and are still waging. Strangely, there are those amongst us who still insist that this is the proper way to treat other human beings, and so the reminders must persist.

08 September 2022

An Old Motorcoach Decays In SE Portland


Saw this old workhorse parked - more or less permanently it looks - on SE 78th Avenue near Taylor Street.

The plates were Florida. 

Just another Florida Man seeking shelter in the Pacific Northwest. 

Old Restroom/Shelter, Mount Tabor Park


Mount Tabor is a magical place. An extinct volcano of the Boring Volcanic Field*, it tops out at scarcely 650 in elevation and only 400 feet of prominence, but it's just so gorgeous and lovely in the park that encompasses the peak that it feels much taller sometimes. And it has that park architecture that, in my childhood in Silverton, made me think of stereotypical Big Towns in the television I glutted myself on in those days.

The building here looks as though it was up-thrust with the rest of the peak and just kind of waited for the town to grow up around it. It kind of feels eternal, and you kind of feel that way next to it. 

It was here before us and will be here after us. 

07 September 2022

The Reason I Like This Hawthorne Address


This is charming, no?

It's the transom of The Meadow, a shop next to Powell's and The Fresh Pot that sells chocolate, gourmet salts, bitters, and other trendy comestible impedimenta, and even though the font and the treatment wears its designedness with a smug pride, I love it.

I live the way the abbreviation "No." is in front of the address. That elevates it for me at the same time I kind of resent the way it knows it will charm me. 

You might say it has my number. 

The Eternal Bagdad Theater


First run, second run, brewpub, back to first run ... it doesn't matter.

The Bagdad will always, always, be the Bagdad: Dated Orientalist decor and all.

I remember, a looong time ago, when me and The Brown-Eyed Girl was concluding an evening at Powell's, back when there was the cook's bookstore there, and someone was playing music and projecting an iTunes visualization from somewhere over our heads to the big wall of the theater opposite.

The reason this memory is dear is ineffable, I guarantee you. 

06 September 2022

Hawthorne Blvd, Sept 2022


There's been so much change (and so much money rushing in) but somehow it still looks and feels the same.

Mostly, anyway. 

A Slice Of SE Portland Gingerbread


While we were near the Hawthorne Powell's Books on Labor Day, we saw this little confection:

The architectural style, says my wife, is 'gingerbread'. It's painted up like a delightful bit of candy. And that easel on the front? Stanning for Ukraine, of course.

We found this on SE 37th just north of Hawthorne Blvd, just beyond the Three Doors Down Cafe. 

05 September 2022

Wy'east from Tabor, In September Mode


Happy Labor Day 2022 from the north east slope of Mount Tabor, where the visage presented by Wy'east looked thusly:

The peak is sans snowcover, which reminds us of last year in August when the record-setting torrid wave swept through, deleting all remaining snow cover in one swell foop. 

Despite weather records attesting that this August was the warmest August in the history of Augusts that have been recorded hereabouts, this is more in line with the usual. About this time, September, what remains of Wy'east's snow enrobement is gone, or at least as near as makes little difference from the POV of any spot in the Rose City offering a view. 

Some Flowers from a PBN


A flower break, as we take an existential breath from what we've just been through and in anticipation of what may or may not come.

04 September 2022

Dramatic Clouds, October Morning


Another one from the files: One October morning six years ago there were low clouds partially obscuring Wy'east from view and the sun was illuminating it dramatically.

31 August 2022

A Mushroom In Midland


Exploring the small and mundane but somehow still wondrous, earlier this year, when it was cooler and moister (do you remember, nah, neither do we) there were several of these mycological beasties near the curb in Midland Park

Seeing as it's been an oven here in the Willamette Valley for the past two months, it's probably gone.

The spore thing. 

30 August 2022

The View from Twelve Mile Hill


One of the changes I've hinted at is a change that came out of nowhere: the job I'd held for thirty years dissolved out from under me.

At least I didn't get fired, hey? And I wasn't kicked to the curb so much as I was let off gently. But it was still jarring. And here I am, doing a whole new thing and taking a whole new way to work. 

I use a lot of Stark Street, which is something of a joy. 

There is a name for the intersection of SE 223rd and Stark that not many people know and wouldn't be known if it weren't for a veterinary hospital near that intersection: Twelve Mile Corner. It's named as such because it's about twelve miles out from Portland city center. No more complicated than that. Now, as I travel eastbound in the morning to my new employ, it's not hard to notice that from the 21000 block (a sign at the entry to the Microchip plant helpfully explains 21000 BLOCK) to 223rd, Stark climbs a long, gentle slope.

I call this slop Twelve Mile Hill. And going out it's charming, but coming back one gets quite a view:

It's not the highest of heights, but it seems to stretch Stark out to infinity. 

A picture of a certain mountain during times of upheaval


Not the mountain's upheval ... mine. We have been through a ton of changes, and more changes, epochal ones, to come. Unwelcome but expected.

For now, I take back to the blog after a gap of never-mind-how-long. Perhaps in the near future I'll sketch that out. For now, enjoy this photo of Wy'east I took about a year ago. 

It's a good'un.