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.