27 May 2024

Robotics Demo at 2024 Multnomah Co Fair

4144Now may I present to you just over a minute of video of the demo of the robotics projects at the Mulntomah County Fair this last weekend .

The Ants' Picnic

4143The most unexpected home craft I found in the exhibits at the Multnomah County Fair were the place settings. Here were traditional old-school home ec in full effect and it was so very charming.

There were a number of precisely-designed place settings, each one with a theme, each one with an extremely designed aspect, accompanied by a menu designed to complement the theme. One had vintage IOOF (International Organization of Odd Fellows) china with a menu themed to core concepts in the IOOF organization.

There was a high level of creativity, wit, and style in each one; one of them employed tropical-themed parts which looked fairly inexpensive, centering on iridescent, pineapple-shaped main platter, but the thought and creativity and design put into the setting lifted it all up to the next level. It was a reminder that creativity, design, and life-enhancing cleverness is not just limited to painting and drawing.

But one will stay with us, because of the level of wittiness and humor; each of the other ones were impressive in their creativity, but this was the Monty Python episode of the group.

Think a moment: ants love a picnic, don't they? Well, what kind of pace setting would you design for them? Something like this, perhaps.

All kinds of things ants like, and you can see it's going over big. And what does the menu look like?

I can't understand it, but what do I look like ... an ant?

Spinners and Weavers at Work at the County Fair

4142The real charming heart of the Multnomah County Fair was the exhibits, and it was here that the classic County Fair charm was in full effect. Just like every self-respecting county fair in America, it celebrated and awarded art, craft, and home-economics achievements of people of the county. 

It almost makes one feel that Multnomah is still a county of small farms and homesteads. Cooking, art, photography, homemaking arts, even fiber arts were celebrated.

In the back of the hall, against a fitting background of quilts, a phalanx of fiber artists were hard at work, carding, spinning, and looming, old-school.

The working was at a steady intensity and the chat brought a warm level of charm usually found in small-towns and places that ran at a slower pace.

In the historic Oaks Park dance hall it all became of a piece that made me feel like I was in the time of not just my grandparents, but my great-grandparents.

26 May 2024

The Multnomah County Fair, 2024

4141We went to the fair on Saturday, which is a very very Memorial Day Weekend thing to do. But it was in Oregon's smallest and most urbanized county, that being Multnomah, which means it's not the same County Fair energy as, say, Clackamas, or Benton, or Marion, et al. 

It's not even like Lane, where the second, no, third, no, second, no, third-largest city in Oregon is located. The Multnomah County Fair is more than a century old, but as city covered what arable land Multnomah County had, and public money being what it usually is, the nature of the fair has changed.

The event is a small, friendly doing alongside Oaks Amusement Park, which provides a ready-made carnival midway. It's extremely budget-friendly, being free, except for parking your car, which is an extremely-reasonable fiver for the whole day you're there.

The fair itself comprises an event stage, a group of vendors along one of the paths from the parking area to the historic dance hall, and a section of small livestock exhibits, typically rabbits and chickens.

The rides of Oaks Park go a long way toward providing the classing County Fair atmosphere. 

The real place this sincere little event shines is in the exhibit hall, and it has that old-school County Fair vibe in full. I have pictures that I'll post in a subsequent entry. The rustic atmosphere of the Oaks Park dance hall go a long way there.

The stage this day had a lineup of local Latinx culture that was full of spirit and verve. Couldn't help but make me smile to look at.

There will be a few more pictures and ruminances next entry.

19 May 2024

The Sandy River Gorge from the Stark Street Viaduct


Near the end of Stark Street, after it starts to hug the face of the bluff above the Sandy River, there's a viaduct that one will likely miss. It feels like just another bit of road hugging the cliffside.

But there is a viaduct there. I'll talk about it at length in an entry or two. But for now, you should know that you can have very excellent views from that viaduct.

Halsey Street in the Golden Hour


This is Halsey Street in Fairview, looking west during the golden hour of local sunset.


07 May 2024

Illustrated Physical Geography on North America, ca. 1920


Back in 1920 they employed skillful cartographers with definite artistic skills to create illustrative maps with beautiful physical form.

We return to the 1920 geography book we picked up at the Gethsemane Rummage Sale last Saturday. 

This is very lively to the eye. The green of the plains is evocative; the western cordillera stands out proudly, the ice-covered areas give a chill.

It's gorgeous not just as a map, but simply as art.

04 May 2024

How Addresses Developed in Salem, Oregon: A Thumbnail Sketch


Thanks to a dear friend from my distant past and current future, today I stumbled on something I didn't know I wanted to know but actually did want to know.

Now, when it comes to Address Nerdery I'll take second place to few. I have literally obsessed about the way Portland grew its house number system since I was a child and long before I lived here permanently; something about the quadranted house number system suggested more than a basic level of design and my mission was, for myself, to find the reasoning, at least for myself. Then I ran into Eugene E. Snyder's book which Explained It All and a handful of kindred spirits in the online world who looked at things the way I did. I now know much more than I ever thought I'd know about Portland's address system but also a whole number of towns and cities.

And that's as maybe. But I was born of the Salem and Silverton area and I seem to have stumbled into exploring about that. And my friend tossed me a link that opened a little bit of history like a flower that I didn't know I was looking for.

See, unlike Portland, Salem was always just Salem; it didn't start out as four cities in a trench coat that had to co-ordinate street naming because otherwise it would be a crazy-quilt. Salem didn't even abut any other town until Keizer decided to stop messing around and organize as one back in the 1970s. But it did grow an address system, as it turns out, and it changed at least once.

The basic information was gleaned from a post at the Willamette Heritage Center's website at https://www.willametteheritage.org/house-numbering-address-ordinances/. And, I guess I hadn't found it myself because this only exists on the 'web since 2021. But it lays out a simple though interesting time line.

  • 1885: Salem City Ordinance 151 defines the address system with 40 numbers per block. Addresses increase northward from Leslie Street (runs east-west, one block north of today's Mission Street) and eastward from Water Street (runs north-south along the Willamette River bank). Addresses did not exceed 560 on streets paralelling the river (the north city limits at the time ran along Mill Creek) and went up as far as 280 on the east-west streets as far east as where the State Capitol is today. 
  • 1904: Salem City Ordinance 436 sets up the house number pattern used today though does not establish address directional suffixes: West Salem would not be added to the City of Salem until 1949 and Salem itself was limited to the east side of the river only. Streets did have directional prefixes, but only if they crossed a baseline. It was at this time, that State Street became the principal division between north and south Salem addresses, and the house number allocation per block was adjusted from 40 to 100.
  • 1957: The system established by the 1904 ordinance served until this time, but it was decided by 1957 that the city had grown enough to require grown-up address districts. It was at this time that the N/NE/SE/S/NW districts were established and deemed to be directional suffixes.

The media coverage of the day was very practical, even bland, which kind of fits for Salem. On Sunday, Oct 13th 1957, the Oregon Statesman ran a very modest article on page 30 about it with a somewhat-crabbily drawn map to illustrate:

 Some of the nomenclature is a little bewildering: Triangle Area, I must admit, leaves me a bit baffled, unless they were commenting on the general shape of the N and S districts. Some of the descriptions have not sustained: while the text seems to suggest that River Road North will be suffixed NE it is suffixed N, and Liberty Road was supposed to get a SE suffix it got S, but both roads are indeed the boundaries as otherwise stated. 

The one essential area that Salem lacks, SW, is only referenced as "a small stretch between the river and the NW area". The 100-block baseline to NW is basically a line formed by Edgewater Street NW and Hwy 22 going west from the core West Salem area. The only area that reasonably describes is Polk County south of Hwy 22 and west of Eola Bend, where the Willamette meets the highway. There has never been any residential development of any scale in that area, and west of that area, while the house number pattern is continued the street naming conventions are not; NW pretty much peters out at the Hwy 22/Hwy 51 intersection. So while there is room for SW as the pattern scales out, I doubt there will ever be a metropolitan Salem address that ends that way.

One other thing I was able to find was this article in the Oregon Statesman published the very next day:

The "oh, well, best get with it" attitude of the article is a scream, quite frankly. Suffixes are now with us, learn to like it, pal. Eventually we'll get used to it. 

And SW is but little populated as yet? Oh, 1957, you had such high hopes for us.

Ex Libris, Marian Frances Milne, of Portland, 1920


before I delve into this 1920 geography and its aged delights, I wanted to show you all what I found in the inside front cover and also the front endpaper.

The owner and location of the book lovingly inscribed thereupon is what appears to be a light green ink in classic penmanship of the day:

The script parses as follows:

Marian Frances Milne
1317 E. 12th St North
Corner of Holman
Portland ore

Telephone: Walnut-1279

 The addressing would seem quite nonsensical to a modern-day Portlander, but as I've pointed out, long long ago, the address system in Portland was quite different before the 1930s. Today, an address on NE 12th Avenue at Holman would be in the 6300s, and the expression of the street name would be much different: East 12th Street North reflects its location north of Burnside and on the east side of the river, but in those days, numbered streets outside of downtown were prefixed east and suffixed north if they were north of the Burnside baseline. The comparative small magnitude of the house number came from that there were only 20 house numbers to the block in those days.

But whether or not you grok how Portland laid out its house numbering prior to the Great Renaming of 1933, the careful penmanship is actually rather heartbreakingly beautiful. One can picture the nib varying the flow of ink with pressure. 

Truly, art.

The New Geography, 1920


Here's us, and by us I mean we in the USA, in the year 1920, and how we trained our schoolchildren to look out upon the burgeoning, opening-up new world and planet.

I found this book at the world-famous Gethsemane Lutheran Church's annual rummage sale, which was held today from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, with similar hours tomorrow as well.

And the book you look upon here was published in 1920, or at least copyrighted as such and I'm going to assume that it was published then as well, which would make this artifact 104 years old. And it's held up rather well.

I haven't read all the text, so I don't know if the Columbian Expeditionary Force is specifically mentioned, but it does come from that point of view. Places in it just becoming known to the dominant culture of the audience of the time were deemed 'unexplored' or 'discovered' by some historically-famous European. 

But if nothing sends that message, certainly Columbus' fleet as the cover illustration does. What a historical gem this is. 

I have several pictures of this codex that I'm going to share along with my usual droll, dry commentary, so a good time is ensured to be had by all. Buckle up.

The View From Steelhammer Road


Up on Steelhammer Road, on the east side of Silverton, is the house I grew up in for most of my childhood in Silverton, which is at the south end of Steelhammer, just before it goes through a curve where it becomes Evans Valley Road.

That's all I'll say of it for now; the building still stands and is a private residence, and the property has been most lovingly and sumptuously treated. I took a few pictures, but I'll be keeping them to myself. But this, looking north on Steelhammer at its intersection with Reserve Street, is something sharable.

It's been more than a couple of decades since I saw this bit of road on a regular basis. Now, with the perspective age provides, here are a couple things I know now:

  • The road was named for a family whose last notable relation ran a pharmacy on East Main between Water and First, next to the restaurant we then called The Towne House. My trauma-riddled memory kicked that back out when I saw a photo taken of East Main during the 1960's (it was probably Gus Frederick's fault I saw the photo, for which I'm grateful).
  • On the horizon there you can see the shoulder of a butte-like hill. That's Mount Angel, the hill (as opposed to Mount Angel, the town, which is to the left and obscured by trees there). When I was a lad, I didn't realize that I could see the Benedictine Abbey from just a block away from my then-abode.
  • Seeing this view point explains to me, and I didn't really realize it until I was last-year years old, why views like this transfix me so. There's a subtle thing about elevation and atmospheric perspective that makes the hills of eastern Marion County have a certain ineffable sparkle to them. The view across the rolling hills out near Shaw and along the Silver Falls Highway east of that are magical and otherworldly to me.
  • One thing that hasn't changed is that the house that was at one time my home is still literally immediately outside of town. When I was small, the city line hugged the side of Steelhammer to Reserve and turned west again there. Today, the city limits go south to include the HOA neighborhood that fills the once brush-and-brambled gully just west of here south along East View Lane, but it executes a do-si-do around the property that is my eastwhile residence. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as them Frenchies say.