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!

Zut Alor! Or how to keep your non-photog friends

I clearly remember the first time I realized that being a photographer can strain relationships.

I was 15 years old, in Paris.  (Wheee!!!)

I was 15 years old, in Paris, with my mother.  (Ouch.)

So here I am, tooling around Paris with my mom.  I’d been taking french classes in high school, so I knew all the history, the art, the things to see.  We saw the Louvre.  We did Versailles.  We floated down the Seine, and saw the (other, original) Statue of Liberty.  Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, all connected by the Champs Elysee.  Notre Dame. 

And yes, we went to Le Tour Eiffel.

Now granted, this was before digital photography.  Each roll of film cost money to look at, and you couldn’t erase the bad shots  right when you took them.  I know.  I get that.

But dude.  The fraking Eiffel Tower, right?!

So due to my penchant for it, my mother entrusted me as official trip photographer.  Or, maybe I was the one willing to carry the camera.  Either way, I took lotsa pictures.  Lots and lots and lots.  I think we went home with something around 16 rolls of film.

Including the one iconic shot, of the Eiffel Tower in the background, my mother in the foreground, yelling at me to QUIT TAKING SO MANY DAMN PICTURES!!!!

But…It’s the Eiffel Tower, I insisted!

Yeah, and you’ve already taken 50 pictures of it already!

But…but I gotta get it *just right*.

Bless the inventors of the digital camera, by the way.  May you be showered with blessings upon you, and upon your children, and their children’s children. 

So I learned that people who don’t appreciate and/or enjoy the craft of photography tend to get pissy when you stop every five minutes and spend 10 minutes ‘framing your shot’ and then taking 30 versions of that shot to get it, you know, *just right*.

If you’re gonna go off walking around, taking pictures, go with other photo walkers.  They are far more understanding of the slow pace required.  And will most likely still talk to you afterwards.  They certainly won’t berate you, or ground you for using up 16 rolls of film.

With that in mind, thanks to Aaron Hockley, aka @ahockley, for organizing the first Geek Photo Walk!

There will be pictures.  Oh, yes, there will be pictures.  Look!  To the right!  A Recent Flickr Photos stream!

Yeah I know it’s empty.  Check back tomorrow, my peeps, check back tomorrow.   Activated! 

PS –  all you Flickr pros, any tips on using it = much appreciated!

Crabs are Friends, Not Food.

I totally had an awesome picture for this post, but then my iPhone crashed and I lost it.  Fiddlesticks.

A couple weeks ago, I walked from my house to the Bipartisan Cafe.  It’s a cozy little coffeeshop over on SE Stark and 79th, with great pie, minimal discernible ‘tude, Norman Rockwells on the wall and an inauguration day countdown on the door.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about, is crabs.  Those shuffly side-scootin pinchy little carrion-eaters of the deep.  Perhaps the mice to PETA’s sea kittens?

Side note:  Speaking of sea kittens…Did you see the recent Colbert Report where he says if fish are sea kittens, that means he gets to start eating Land Fish.  Yummy land fish!  Mmmm….

Lots of people I know like crab, to varying degree.  Crab cakes, crab dip, king crab, baked alaska…oh wait.  Baked alaska isn’t crab, is it.  Sounds crabby though, doesn’t it?

I don’t like crab.  Not really a big crab fan.  I just don’t find insectoid beings particularly appetizing.  I’ve dissected large insects, and that’s what I think of when it comes to crabs.  And lobsters too, but I’ve never killed a lobster.

I have killed a crab.  And it was GRUESOME.

I mean seriously, what the heck is wrong with me?  I ended up with a life-changing moral crisis after deep sea fishing in Mexico, so I no longer can really bring myself to go fishing.  And I liked to go fishing.  But the crab incident, while not as impactful as the Bahia de Banderas affair, also sticks in my mind.

So as I said before, walking through a sunny SE neighborhood on my way to Bipartisan Cafe, I come across a notice of a Crab Feed at the Ascension Catholic Church.

I assume when most people see something like that, they think of buttery crab legs and nutcrackers and stuff.

I, however, am graced with an image of my first and last experience going crabbing, and killing a crab.

We brought in a pretty good haul, about 8-10 or so that day, and this was a week long trip up to Blaine, Washington with the ex’s family.  The killing happened thus:  Take crab from large container.  Place crab on sheet of plywood on ground, on its back.  Place piece of broom handle along crabs chest, parallel to legs.  Press down until it cracks.  Simple, right?  Yep simple.  Except for the screaming, and the flailing of legs, trying to grasp the broom handle.  Did I mention the screaming?  Did you know crabs scream?  Yeah.  Not so fun.

I guess it all boils down to this for me:  If I’m going to kill something with the intention of eating it, there needs to be two requirements met.  First, I have to NEED the food.  As in, there’s no store for miles, I have no food, and if I don’t kill this animal, I may starve.  SECOND, I have to be prepared to actually EAT what I kill.  As in, I will eat this creature, and I either like the taste, or don’t care (see requirement #1).

And with that, I’m off to go have a Mcmenamin’s burger.  Yummy.  Perhaps I’ll get the Land Fish special?

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!

Memorial Day Conundrum!

Category: Randoms_, Family_
This past Memorial Day, I was graced with quite a few options to fill my holiday weekend. I was going to be on my own, T being up at the races in Vancouver BC, and I was determined!! to not spend it at home in front of my computer playin games all weekend. But which one? When the cards where down, I had three options:

1. Drive the Komfort Kastle up to Olympia to spend the weekend with some great friends who I hadn’t seen since last fall. Location: swell little lake house. Food: Awesome pot lucks for every meal. Fun stuff: jet skis and dock fishing and a chance at some cribbage redemption!

2. Spend the weekend up at a campsite with our usual camping buddies. Location: nice little campground up by mt st helens. Food: mostly bring your own, some pot luck possibilites. Fun stuff: lots of cribbage and dice possibilities, and of course playing fetch with the pup and her buddy Jack.

3. The third and final option came at the last minute, Thursday before the weekend. A friend of mine, through some unfortunate circumstances, ended up with an extra ticket to see Nine Inch Nails with Bauhaus. /gasp /choke /choke /gasp!! Forget location, it don’t matter! Food? I’ll eat dirt! (no really I probably will) Fun stuff??? OMG it’s NIN and Bauhuas for chrissake!!!!

Now, you may be thinking that I went with option number 3. And really, I was weighing the options up until the last minute (or would have if I could). But I actually ended up going with option number 1, for the simple reason that it would get me out of the house for the whole weekend. Being that I was gonna be alone at home, I wanted to spend as little time there as possible. Sometimes I like being alone at home. Most of the time I don’t, especially overnight. Also, the other two options would have been far more entertaining for the pup.

The weekend turned out to be a bit stressful, not the relaxing getaway I was hoping for…mostly because of that little stinker I have for a dog. She was a bit…trying. But regardless, I met some nice new people, got to see some great friends, and had awesome food (mmm Thai beef salad rocks!). So although the weather did end up being uber crappy all weekend, it wasn’t a total letdown.

A side note on the irony of this situation…Many years back, when I was pretending to go to college in Syracuse NY, a friend of mine came up to me one day and said “hey guess what, there’s this cool new band playing tonight at so and so club, wanna come and check them out? It’s only 5 bucks to get it!” I turned him down, thinking that some new college band puking on stage wasn’t my idea of a good time. The band? Nine Inch Nails.

Yeah, I’m still kicking myself.

I forgot to mention!

In all the pneumonia and otherwise sickness hubbub, I totally forgot our new toy!

Voila: Goodbye tent trailer, hello Komfort!



Ameneties Include:
Air Conditioner!
Napkin Dispenser!!!
Accessible Storage!
No Collapsing!
Microwave Oven!

Stay tuned, there’s more camping to be done, including lots of OFF SEASON CAMPING! /cough with Mark and Sandee /cough

It’s been one helluva week (or so)

I’ve been sick all week. No really! I admit that I took off sick a week ago Friday to go to the beach, but my instant karma has dealt me my comeuppance. Be that as it may, the past week hasn’t been all that bad:

  1. I got to take my puppy to the beach for the first time with her new best friend Bella, a golden retriever puppy who’s a couple weeks younger.
  2. I went for a great first ride of the season with some nice folk, including my most favorite little Italian chick. Bikers rock!
  3. I have actually stepped into the office for half a day since a week ago Thursday, and I don’t plan on it for a few days yet because…
  4. I got pneumonia!

So let’s start with the puppy fun. We took our puppy Jessie to the beach with our friends Jen and Alix, their daughter Rylie and their new puppy Bella. I had a pretty good time, mostly because it was great to see Jessie’s first encounter with beach smells, beach sand, nasty beach …stuff… (which she and Bella tried to injest in great quantities, ugh), and all the wonderful beach puppy games, which look quite a bit like the at home puppy games, but are better because they’re at the beach. The only downside was I busted my new kite which I’ve only been able to fly the day I bought it last year, and now is …well, busted. Note to self – help is required when assembling kites that large; so if you get ditched while preparing to assemble, you’re just gonna have to wait or risk nasty string burns and an extremely foul temper.

The bike ride. I knew I’d been feeling really crappy all of last week, just a lot of chest pressure and stuff, coughing and the like. But at least my eye swelling had gone down, whatever that was all about. I knew this ride was coming up, and it was to be the first of the season so I was pretty excited, so I rested up and rested up and by the time Sunday rolled around I felt like I was on the downhill side on the road to recovery. So I hopped on the bike, gassed it up a bit (3 bucks doesn’t fill up my tank anymore? Wha??) and headed to my friend Hope’s house, the Starting Destination. Once everyone who was gonna be there got there, we started out towards Multnomah Falls. Except that was waaaay crowded. So we decided to continue on to Cascade Locks for burgers and a great view at CharBurger. By that time, I was having a little trouble breathing, so I ordered up a big tall styrofoam cup of tea to warm my chest up. We decided to head home the fast way, but about 5 miles away from Troutdale my gas light lit up. Did you know some bikes have a gas light? I didn’t! Anyway, I debated for a mile or two whether or not I should try to make it, since I knew we were about 20 miles out at this point, but I decided not to take a chance and told the group I needed a pit stop. Fortunately there was one right nearby, so we all pulled in and I gassed up. Nearly 8 bucks!!!! later, with a full tank, we all headed out. Two miles later, Hope pulls us over; her bike died and wouldn’t start. The cause? She ran outta gas! So she hops on our friend Tom’s bike and the three of us (the others had left along the way) headed back to the gas station to buy a container and some gas. By this time I’m feeling a little worse. We get back to hopes house and I make up some more tea and hang out for a bit, but I really needed to get home.

Later that night I ended up in the emergency center and I came out with pneumonia. I’m just that hardkore!