Paper Boats

I realized today that I have forgotten how to make a paper boat.

In a place like Portland, there is simply no excuse for such an oversight. I remember the sublime satisfaction I felt as a kid when I would make one; it had such heft and utility compared to a paper plane. Paper planes were cool and all, but the flight performance was always questionable. Not so with the boat; it would always float, and always follow the current. Where the plane was, well, flighty, the boat was reliable.

Here. Let me remedy this for all of us.

And another style, one of my favorites, though I cannot attest to its seaworthiness:

Now go. Go make a paper boat. And then, float it down the street towards the drain, and dream of ocean voyages. And pirates.

Autumn heat.

Autumn sunshine and autumn leaves conspire to wrap my vision in blazing colors, filling the day with warmth like that of a roaring fire, a cozy wool scarf, a creamy mug of hot cocoa. As if to say yes, the heat of summer is leaving, but there is warmth in winter too. And oh by the way, here is summer’s Grand Finale! I pronounce my requisite oohs and aahs, and shop for pretty big mugs, and contemplate knitting with alpaca.

Welcome, autumn.

The Rains Doth Fall

They say the Eskimos have 50 different words for snow.  Well here in the PacNW, we have quite a few words for rain.  In the interest of enlightening those who don’t have the damn good luck to live here, I thought I’d share some of them, along with the approximate time it would take for an average human in average clothes to get an average soaking.  I will be using a highly scientific method to calculate this, taking into consideration the average permeability of natural fiber clothing, the estimated surface tension of rain drop inversely based on it size, and including a modest wind factor.  In other words, I’m just guessing.

  • Misting Rain: This is the rain that is really just a step up from fog.  You can sorta see it, but the drops are so fine they drift on the air, almost like snow.  Except it’s rain.  Not snow.  And it’s not very cold at all.  Time to soak: 30 mins-1 hour.
  • Sprinkles: This is actual rain, the drops tend to fall as expected unlike the misting rain, however the drops are still very small, and you almost think that if you were The Flash, you could probably dodge them if you could just see them coming. Time to soak: 15-25 mins.
  • Showers: These are just what they sound like.  Imagine that your standing in a shower, except you’re not in the shower.  You’re outside, and it’s not even one of those handy little camping showers.  You’re just standing there, outside, getting showered.  Time to soak: 5-10 mins.
  • Rain: Ok this is the flat out rain.  Solid, good sized drops, pretty thick and consistent.  The ol’ reliable Portland rain.  The kind of rain that makes trees drip and grow, and spreads moss like thick paint on everything that will hold still for just a few days.  The kind of rain that makes my dog smell like a wet dog in a matter of minutes.  But I kinda like the smell of wet dog.  It grows on you.  Like moss.  Time to soak: 1-2 mins.
  • Downpour:  This is the big one.  The doozy.  The whopper.  The big mac.  Moving away from fast food analogies, the big kahuna.  This is verging on southern type rain, the kind of rain that Portlanders only can dream about.  The kind that hits you like a hurricane, except without the wind and stuff.  Drenching, solid sheets of water.  The kind of rain that makes you go (no not ooooh) DAYUM.  Time to soak: instant.

So there you have it.  A short little primer, if you will, of Pacific NW rain types.  There are others, I’m sure!  Not to mention the combination types, like a misty shower, or a showery sprinkle.  In fact I’d call today’s rainfall a showery sprinkle.  I’d call it that, and start thinking about whether or not I still have all the ingredients for hot toddys in my cupboards, because much as I hate to say it, fall is a-comin.

Morgan’s Hot Toddy Recipe

1c hot water

Maker’s mark to taste (hehehe)

Spoonful or two of honey

Squeeze of lemon

Stir with a cinnamon stick if I’m feelin’ festive

Yep.  Aaaalll set there folks.

Liquid Sunshine

Rain.  Sun.  Spring.  Portland.

I am deeply, madly in love with this moment, with this place, with the people in it and the hope they create.

I know this is my true home.  I know, because a simple sunbreak, standing on MLK Blvd, makes my heart swell with joy and love for a place, for a name on a map.  A name that is more than the sum of its letters, much like the place is more than the sum of its residents.

Portland.  A place full of possibilities.

I love this place.

Sniff sniff sniff: Is that spring I smell?

Right.  I know, it snowed the other day.  I figure, it don’t stick, it don’t count, right?  And yes, I heard Dave Salesky saying it’s gonna snow tomorrow, too. 

And that, my friends, will make SEVENTEEN days of snow this winter!

But!  There was that one day last week.  Were you there?  Did you see it?  It was warm!  I took my jacket off!  I wore my sunglasses!

Well, I mean, I often wear my sunglasses even when it’s cloudy.  Cloud glare, you know.  Anyway…

It was just one day.  But hear me, my fellow PDXers:  Spring, she is a-comin!

It’s hard to believe it after the winter we’ve had.  But buck up, lil’ buckaroos.  There’s stuff sprouting.  The sun is warming.  Trees are shooting!  Err, you know, putting out shoots!  My bike gloves are looking awfully tempting!  My hyacinths are BLOOMING!  Seriously, like out of the ground, flowers, all…bloomed.  (I tried shoving ’em back in, telling them it’s too early, but they didn’t seem to like that too much.)  My fave Springwater Corridor Trail will be seeing my return soon!  Joy.  Happy sigh, even.

SO!  In honour of this impending nice weather craziness that is looming in our future (oh please!  Loom!  LOOM FASTER!), how about getting out to get that Springwater Corridor Trail, and the Johnson Creek Watershed it’s in, all spruced up for springtime?

Well, then, block March 7th on your iPhones, because it’s the 11th Annual Watershed Wide Work Party!  Complete with Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon!  (*cough* free lunch *cough*)  Come on out and lend a hand, meet your fellow PDX-lovin’ neighbors, get some fresh (hopefully springy!) air, exercise and fun!  And hello, free food.  Did I mention the free food? 

I, alas, will not be able to join you.  Please go in my stead.  Represent, and stuff.  I will be working VERY, VERY hard to facilitate the return of ORBlogs to our beloved PDX interweb at the first ORBlogs Code Sprint, kindly hosted by our friends at CubeSpace.  So if you’re not feeling up to the task of watershed sprucing, come and hang out at CubeSpace and lend a hand to make ORBlogs a thing of beauty for all of us to use.

Huzzah for Volunteers!

Hebrew 101, or How to Survive Hanging Out with Crazy Israelis

The next time you find yourself and/or your time appropriated by crazy Israeli friends, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind.  Hanging out with Israelis is NOT for the faint of heart.  There is a whole host of things that could go wrong during these types of situations.  You could suddenly find yourself acting like you just left the Israeli Army (and we all know that Israelis fresh out of the army are especially crazy!).  You could find yourself totally ignoring common American customs and niceties, like standing in line to order drinks at the bar.  Imagine the poor barkeep as you and the crazy Israelis you’ve taken up with converge en masse, without any form or courtesy.  Sad.  You may even find yourself spouting Hebrew swear words without any guidance on proper usage!  I urge you, proceed with caution.  Here are a few handy tips that will ensure a (relatively) painless experience.

  • Tip #1: Confusion

Sufficiently confused Israelis. Notice the look of wonder and consternation as water is squeezed from outer wear!

If you’ve ever seen the movie Gremlins, you can appreciate the transformational power of water. Much like the cute little Mogwai, when exposed to water, turn into aggressive little meanies, so do crazy Israelis, in reverse fasion, become more complacent and easy to manage when confronted with a classic Portland rainfall.  A little extra waterspray from Multnomah Falls doesn’t hurt either.   It clearly confuses them, how so much water can fall out of the sky.  Mind you, they are primarily desert dwellers, so this confusion is understandable, and clearly to your advantage.


  • Tip #2: Mesmerism
Amazingly enough, it took very little effort on my part to divert their attentions.  Crazy, I know.

Amazingly enough, it took very little effort on my part to create this photo opportunity. Crazy, I know. They might still be there waiting for service if I hadn't talked them down.

 There are all sorts of strange and wonderful things around that will mesmerize Israelis on the prowl.  Thinking as they do that Americans are the crazy ones, they will often see things they find unusual.  Encourage them to investigate.  The photo opportunities afforded to you by their antics will amaze even the most hardened critic.  Remember to always keep your camera handy!  If they realize that you are attempting to document their craziness, they may attack.  Stay calm, and inquire how to say the thing they were mesmerized by in Hebrew.  If you’re lucky, they will stop their advance and pause to discuss amongst themselves how to say such a thing in English.  Which leads me to my third and final tip…


  • Tip #3: Diversion
All the Hebrew I know

All the Hebrew I know

In extreme cases, a very simple and effective tactic to maintain control in the presense of Israelis is linguistic diversion.  Be sure to indicate that your knowledge of Hebrew is minimal at best from the outset, whether or not that may be the case!   Simply point to some nearby object, and say “Hey, how do you say <object> in Hebrew?”  They should commence to discuss between themselves how to answer.  If you’re quite lucky, you may happen upon a term that doesn’t translate directly, which should occupy them for an extended amount of time.  (One especially confounding term for them is ‘volcano’.)  Use this only as a last resort!   While this approach is very simple, there are some extremely dangerous repurcussions if used incorrectly or too often.  For instance, if your Israeli friends start to think that you’ve developed enough of a vocabulary, they may start to quiz you.  Should this occur, stay very calm, and screw up as best as you can.  This should hopefully throw them off, and they will back down.  However if this does not work, your last option is this:  Throw up your hands, exclaim “yalayala!” or “yala balagan!”.  Be prepared to run away.  Also be prepared for a night of partying.  It could go either way.

I wish you all the luck with your crazy Israeli friends.

Z’hirut, and Peace.

1000 Acres, or Hiking With My Were-Dog

Dogs are fun.  Smart dogs though, can be challenging.  I sometimes wish I had one of those sleep all day, lounge around the house, climb in my lap kind of dogs, but alas, that is not the dog I requested.  I requested a smart dog who loves to fetch, and by golly that is EXACTLY WHAT I GOT.  Except apparently I failed to analyze the implications of such a request, and now have a dog which I must exercise daily, or else…well, suffice to say even my Jewish imperviousness to guilt is no match for the infliction of guilt my dog can bring to bear.

So picture this:  Dog that needs exercise + Snowpocalypse 2008.  BAD.  Oh bad bad bad.   I can only brave the snow and ice of my neighborhood so much, right?

So!  I came home last night, and got the guilty puppy dog eyes, and promised – nay, swore – that I would take her out today. 

So this morning  afternoon I got out of bed, tossed dog and myself into car, and headed to the 1000 Acre Wood

And found out that my dog turns into some funky were-dog pelican/chickadee hybrid creature when she encounters puddles, like so:

1. Dog runs at (usually large) puddle

2. Dog hits puddle at full velocity

3. Dog turns into a pelican, opens mouth and skims surface of puddle scooping up a billfull of water

4. Dog stops, ruffles feathers fur, preens and looks quite smug.

I submit the following evidence:


The pelican swoops

Jessie in flight

Jessie in flight. Notice puddle in the rear...

In case you weren’t aware, the Sandy River Delta, otherwise knows as 1000 Acre Wood, is a fabulous place for off leash dog happiness.  Today, even with the hail:

Oh, Hail!!!

Oh, Hail!!!

…I still saw quite a few people.  I estimate the ratio of dog to owners around 1.39:1.  It’s often MUCH higher.   It’s a pretty awesome place, even with the power lines that bisect it in several places.  I encourage you to get out and enjoy it.  Just be prepared for muddy paw prints on your clothes.
Um, not going *that* way today...

Um, not going *that* way today...

prettiness.  And iPhone cameras are pretty cool.

prettiness. And iPhone cameras are pretty cool.

badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger...

badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger...

Coming up next: eTown PDX, or How I Nearly Got Ejected From the Schnitz.

Scenes from SNOWPOCALYPSE!!!! 2008

Yeah, I know everyone’s doing it.  But far be it from me to not partake in the extreme weather catastrophe spirit!  Therefore, I humbly submit my entries for the SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008 photographic and video archives:

Will my rhodies survive the winter?  I have a hunch they will!

Will my rhodies survive the winter? I have a hunch they will!


This next shot required a bit of laying down on the job.  During which time the denizens of the pictured yard came outside:

Denizen:  “Hey, you ok there?”

Me:  “Oh yeah, just taking some pictures here…no worries!”

Denizen:  “Um.  Ok. ”  <strange look as he reenters his domicile>

You gotta take some risks when you’re an amateur photog, you know.  Great pictures require gettin down and dirty.  In the mud.  And snow. 


Brrr.  Portland grass yelling WTF?!?!!

Brrr. Portland grass yelling WTF?!?!!


And the pièce de résistance:  My latest Jessie video, entitled SnowFace.  Enjoy.

I <3 Portland

I love this town called Portland a heckuva lot.  So, in honour of the upcoming 18th anniversary of my arrival in this great town, I thought I’d toss out a list of five things I love about Portland.  I know, the usual list number is 10. However, I tend to espouse, at great length, about things I like, so in the interest of keeping this to a nice, blogworthy length, I opted for half the items, but all the love. So here it is…5 things I love about the city formerly known as Stumptown.

#5: Rain.


Rain. Duh.

 What?? What did you say? Rain, are you serious? This, from the girl who lists as one of her most traumatic childhood experiences being caught in a NYC deluge? Yep. It was an epiphany level experience when I realized I actually kinda like the rain now.  Let me clarify: I like Portland rain.  Not torrential downpour, soaked to the bone southeastern US rain, no way.  But the misty, pervasive showers, the gentle sprinkles, they cleanse the air and don’t make me feel like I’m about to drown, which is how I felt during the above mentioned deluge.  Granted, I’m a bit taller now, so my fear of drowning by puddle is somewhat reduced, but still.  Also, the myth (Yes!  Myth!) that Portland gets oodles and buckets of rain keeps people away, because we all know that once they get here, they never wanna leave.  Like me.

Powell's Books

Deep in the stacks @Powells

#4: Powell’s.

Ok I know what you’re all saying.  Yawn.  Of course Powell’s is on the list, EVERYBODY puts Powell’s on their list, can’t you be original?  From my perspective though, I keenly feel the humongous slap upside the head that Powell’s is to other major book sellers (::cough:: Barnes & Noble)  Some of my favorite things in New York when I lived there were Blimpie for the subs, catching a Mets game at Shea Stadium (insert heartbreaking sob here), and going to Barnes & Noble.  B&N seemed like a reader’s mecca to my young, book-loving soul.  Plus, it was in New York, so how could anything else possibly measure up?  Now picture me walking into Powell’s the first time.  No lie, I swear I could hear a choir of angels.  And I remember thinking, clear as if it was yesterday:  “Barnes & Noble, you SUCK ASS.”  Thankfully, my appreciation of Blimpie subs faded long before that.  My Mets fandom however…I’m sad to say is still alive and in mourning.

#3: Dogs.


Jessie @ the Sandy River

Portland is not the number one dog-friendly city in the country.  I find this extremely hard to fathom, as does my dog.  She has a tendency to get quite squeaky in the car when we pass by locations of particular canine interest that she likes.  Therefore, she tends to maintain a fairly constant level of squeekiness as I drive around Portland.  Between our usual hangout at the dog park at Mt Tabor, the constant dog cookies the mailman brings, the occasional splashdown in the uber dog-friendly section of the Sandy River, the thrice-yearly baths at Lucky Lab Dog Washes (Dogtoberfest, Multnomah Dog Days, Tails & Ales)…the list goes on and on. 

 (Err, correction, Jessie says that the Lucky Lab dog baths are NOT on her list of faves.  But they have beer! I insisted. And live music!  And free doggy samples!  She just glares at me.) 

There is nearly always some dog-related event going on around town.  Not to mention all the dog parks scattered throughout the metro area (Mt. Tabor is our fave!)  So what if they’re not exactly welcome on public transportation, like they are in Chicago or whatever.  Or Austin Texas.  Really??  Austin Texas??  Portland dogs are loved, and everyone knows it.  Screw the rest of the ‘we love dogs’ cities…if I were a dog, I’d want to live in Portland.

#2 Nature vs City.

Nature in the city, how I love thee…let me count the ways!  I love how Portland has so seemlessly blended the need for expansion with a very green sense of the need for parks, and greenspaces, and community gardens, and, well, nature within the city limits.  I mean, just consider some of the bigger natural spaces within the city:

Cherry tree near Lloyd Center

Cherry tree near Lloyd Center

That’s the short list.  It doesn’t include the hundreds of city parks and recreation spaces scattered all over.  I’ve never lived anywhere in this city where I wasn’t within a few blocks of a park, and all super nice (at least during the day…).  Having such a plethora of natural spaces, I think, creates oases of calm for a city’s residents; a place to recharge, to introspect, to run and play and love and think.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Portland is so progressive, sustainable-conscious and green:  There is evidence of nature’s power everywhere you look.  Nature is perpetuating itself in Portland.

#1: Community

Some of my friends

Some of my friends

I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve lived here in Portland longer than anywhere else.  I remember coming to a realization once, long ago, while living in Syracuse NY (aka the armpit of NY state.  Trust me).  I realized that no matter where you go, where you lay your hat down at night, that the place you live really makes very little difference in your life, when you boil it down.  The place is not you, and you are not the place you live in.  It can have its effects, true, but they tend to be minor; the thoughts you have and the life you live and the problems you face are universal.  I was convinced that that was a statement of truth.  Not anymore.  There is something about Portland, something about the particular combination of sun and sky and rain and mountain and ocean and desert that make up Portland and the Pacific NW that surrounds it, that make it truly a unique place.  And it attracts truly unique people.  Never in my life have I encountered so consistently such caring, thoughtful…good people.  I have had good friends while living outside of Portland.  But never so many, who are so dear to me, and who I would honestly entrust with my life and those things I treasure the most.  I love this place, and all the people in it, whether I know you or not, because you make Portland what it is.  I will be happy to die here, someday.  Um.  Someday not too soon, that is.  Dammit where is that salt…anyone have any wood I can knock?!?

Well there it is.  5 things I love about Portland.  Love Portland too?  Then get involved, and get out there and enjoy it!