Friday, February 29, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--No Country for Old Men

Not much dialog makes for a tense, bloody and incredibly beautiful film. Very fun bit parts with actual Texans. How can such a horrible man have such a kind smile?

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written Feb 11-29

This 2/3 of the the month saw me run out of people to write too, start to feel like a stalker because of the number of letters sent to the Oregonian, and miss my first days of writing. I'm glad I missed a day so early on. I once heard a tale (fiction, I think) of a senator who in his 30 year career never missed a vote. Near the end of his life he was even carried into the Senate chambers so he could cast his vote. When offering advice to a new Senator, his first instruction was to miss a vote early on. By missing a day in the first month of my project I have relived the worry that I would just stop writing. Now I know I can miss a day and still bounce back.

11 letters to people I know, 6 to people I don't know, 2 days without writing. My three letters I've written to politicians in February didn't sway any issues. Although I got a very nice letter back from Representative Kotek and she agrees with me, not enough of her colleagues agreed with us.

February 11 Jane. Get well soon card.
February 12 Sara. Postcard.
February 13 Nicole. Thank you note.
February 14 Commissioner Eric Sten. No on Island Expansion of the River District. This plan was approved.
February 15 Nestor Ramos (my movie review boyfriend).
**Letter back: Representative Tina Kotek. re: no on OSU's palatial new basketball arena. She agreed with me and thanked me for writing. Sadly, the funding plan was passed.
February 16 Gaya at Savvy Plus.
February 17 MAunts. Postcard inquiring about state quarters.
February 18 Mary Lou Andre, author of Ready to Wear.
February 19 Jenna. Letter.
**Letter back. Alison Bechtel.
February 20 Territorial Seed Co. Thank you.
February 21 Kristi Turnquist. Letter agreeing with her Oscar article.
February 22 Dad & Barb.
**Postcard back. Sara.
February 23 Nothing. Completely forgot.
February 24 Nothing. Didn't make time.
February 25 Leath. Letter.
February 26 Sara. Letter part I.
February 27 Sara. Letter part II.
February 28 Sara. Letter part III.
February 29 Barbara. Letter.

Update re: duct tape and parade/Randy Leonard letter from last time. You can now be fined for marking your space at a parade with duct tape. Well thank god Commissioner Leonard has saved us from that non-problem.

Davis Street Door

My walk from the Max to work takes me along Davis Street. I've walked the length of sidewalk between Second and Third Avenues more than 100 times and never looked to my left at just the right moment. Due to some welding that was happening on the side of the street I usually walk on, today I crossed street and I spied a doorway. "How long has that been there?" I wondered to myself.

It looked open, so I wandered in. I followed the brick path through a brick corridor...
...and ended up in a charming courtyard.
There was a handy sign to let me know that the Merchants' Hotel was built in 1885 and not only was it a fancy hotel, it had one of the first hydraulic elevators in Portland. Between World Wars, the hotel housed a number of Japanese businesses, including the Japanese-Oregon daily newspaper. The sign does not go on to say that with the coming of World War II all of those Japanese businesses would be abandoned as the Japanese were "relocated", but ideally you know that story.
Excited to have found a nook of history on a day that only comes around every four years, I turned around and happily continued my trek to work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Plant grows out of building

I was on my way to the doctor when I came across this upstart plant. It had the nerve to grow out of the side of a building!

I thought perhaps it had grown from the ground up behind the metal panel between the two windows, emerging mid-building.
A closer look revealed that it hadn't come from the ground at all, but had taken root halfway up the building.
Whenever I find something like this, it reminds me how temporary our buildings are, without a human to maintain them. Plants, water, wind and weather are much stronger than concrete, given enough time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lint Progress: Consignment store names.

What is it with consignment stores and dumb names. For example:

Seams to Fit.

What's Upstairs.

It's like the owners think cute or punny names are fun. To me though, they are just irritating. Even my favorite consignment stores are guilty of this.

There is the very hard to say out loud:

Here We Go Again Consignments

And even my my most favorite consignment store has a lame name:

Savvy Plus

It sounds like a more innocuous version of Mr. Pinky's Hefty Hideaway.

The only consignment store with a good name that I can think of offhand is:


The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise From a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look

I really liked this book. It is small, so you can take it with you when you shop. The author explains what she, as a stylist does. Aside from dressing movie starts and personal clients, she also is hired by advertising agencies to dress any model you may see in the ad. This is a niche market I never even thought about.

There were some good tips in the book. My favorite was to take your waist measurement and your rise measurement. When looking for pants, bring along a tape measure and use it to decide if you want to try on a pair of pants. The front of the pants should be half your waist measurement. If the rise matches, you have a potential winner. If not, move up or down a size. Genius! She also solved the mystery of taking measurements. I've often wondered how tight to pull the tape. I learned for comfortable ease, always add the width of two fingers into your measurements.

If the Creek Don't Rise: My Life Out West With the Last Black Widow of the Civil War

Rita Williams' mother died when she was four and after that she was raised by her Aunt Daisy. The book explores their contentious relationship, growing up Black in the middle of lily-white Colorado, their self-sufficiency and their extreme poverty. It was a very sad, yet fascinating story. I would love to find out what happened to Rita Williams after she left her Aunt's care.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lint Progress: Goodwill on 10th part II

I had some time to kill before watching the Oscars, so I made my way back to the Goodwill on 10th. I tried on a lot of pants and found a pair that fit--black even--but I didn't really like them. I realized that if I bought the pants, I would just be perpetuating the dislike of my closet. So I put them back. Having more time to kill, I tried on skirts. Nothing really worked there either. Then I moved on to dresses.

I've always loved dresses, much more so than skirts. I like that you just put on a dress and you are done. Of course, the mix and match abilities are more limited than with a skirt or pants, but dresses are more fun for me. I found two excellent additions to my wardrobe.

This is an excellent dress. It can crossover seasons and can be dressed up or down. Though probably I shouldn't appear in public in stripy socks and slippers. It also, as the picture indicates, has excellent twirl factor, something I'm always looking for in a dress. The material is thick and luxurious feeling. When I bought it, it was a bit too big at the sides, so I had it taken in and it fits perfectly now. I'm very excited about this dress.
This is also a fabulous dress. It's got a very nice wrap front and two layers of fabric which makes for a nice skimming effect the style books are always talking about. It's a little fancy for where I work, but I can wear it to things like winter weddings, (which I bought it for) holidays and parties.
I also found some shoes. They were barley used and much more comfortable than the shoes I was wearing. I snapped them up.

It was a good shopping trip.

Lint Progress: Closet Tryout

Today was part two of shopping in my closet. After removing all the things I don't love and am not wearing, I was to try on all my clothing and find great new combinations, making note of them on the handy form I cribbed from "Ready to Wear." Then I could make a list of what I needed to take with me while shopping.

It didn't go as planned. I was very tired from my weekend in general, but had made it a goal to get this step done. I started with my long black skirt. I paired it with every top and top/jacket combo and made note of what worked. And that was all I could take.

I know I should do the mix and match things, but it's not going to happen. I basically know what I need: about three more pair of pants, all new tops, new dress shoes, new lace-up shoes, new bras, new underwear, new socks. We'll just go from there.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Morning Walk

I got in a nice walk this morning and here are a few things I found.

One of the things I'm going to do this year is build supports for my garden. Square Foot Gardening says to use electrical conduit. It is the strongest for the cheapest. He specifically recommends NOT using PVC pipe. Apparently, it's too flimsy. Electrical conduit is what you see here, but what they did, intrigued me.
They have used a PVC pipe elbow to connect the two pieces of electrical conduit. I may just copy them. The Electrical conduit costs $1.97 for 10 foot lengths. The elbow connectors for the electrical conduit cost $4.95. I think I will try a PVC elbow first and see how it goes.
I love the blue house with the yellow door and the white trim. But you know what pulls it all together? The panel of fabric covering the window.
Lovely, isn't it? A very nice contemporary retro touch that fits right in with the house.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lint Progress: What's Upstairs

I still had time to kill after "Seams to Fit" so I wandered up 23rd Ave. for some window shopping. On my way I came across another consignment store called "What's Upstairs." It's located at 736 NW 23rd Ave. I climbed up the stairs to find out what was there.

It was a store I didn't like at all. The person working there was not really very friendly. Though I realize that the person could be unfriendly for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with me, the first thing I think is that I shouldn't be shopping there. So that was the first strike against them.

As stated before, I don't really like to shop. This means that I like things to be divided by size, so I can avoid looking through the smaller sizes. This shop was divided not by size, but by color. All the black pants were together, and all the black shirts, black sweaters, black jackets. On another wall were all the white things. In another room were all the colored things. All sizes, mixed up together. It was my shopping nightmare.

Clearly, some people like this store. Someone on Citysearch would "move to PDX FOR THIS SHOP." I'm glad she's happy. I won't be going back.

Lint Progress: Seams to Fit

After a doctor appointment, I stopped by "Seams to Fit" to see if anything fit me. The store is located at 2264 NW Raleigh and, according to it's website, "offers an upscale retail environment for consignment of your quality articles." It is a very nice environment and the clothing was very high quality. It was also very expensive. I'm not really an Armani-suit wearing person, but if I were, I would shop here.

I had a lot of time to kill, so I tried a lot of things on. Including super fancy clothing that I had no intention of buying, even if it did fit. Clothing that costs over $40.00 makes me a bit nervous to wear. Some of the dresses I was trying on were $80.00 to $100.00. Used.

Nothing, sadly, fit. I'm being very picky about fit and nothing fit the bill. Still, I left in good spirits. This won't be a main clothing store for me, but I'll probably stop in once in awhile.

Comeback: A Mother & Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back

Claire & Mia Fontaine
One day, Mia Fontaine, the seemingly normal 14 year old daughter of Claire Fontaine, just up and ran away. When Claire found her, she was using drugs. This book, written by both mother and daughter, follows their story as Claire works to get Mia into a treatment program she can't run away from. It was very gripping for the majority of the book, though the time Mia spent in treatment did drag on a bit. It was interesting to see how Mia's drug use changed her mother and herself, for good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bike Project Day 23: The Missing Children's Arboretum

In which I attempt to ride all the yellow, green, blue & purple streets on the Bike There Bike Map while increasing strength, stamina, aerobic capacity and exploring Portland’s nooks and crannies.

Day 23

Weather: Sunny & Cold

Ride Average Speed: 10.2 mph
Time: 59.43
Distance: 10.6 mi
Average Heart Rate: 132

The Ride:
N Lombard & N Denver
Go to Interstate and turn left
L on Ainsworth
L on Williams to Vancouver
R on Schmeer (hooks around)
R on 6th Dr.
Right into Children’s Arboretum
Come back out
L on 6th Dr.
L on Vancouver Way
L on Gertz Rd.
L on 13th
L on Marine Dr. to Bridgton
L on Gantenbein Ave.
R on Marine Dr.
At turnoff for Delta Park cut though park
Back to Denver.

Route comments:
Good route, though the whole Schmeer/6th Dr. was very heavily trafficked because a lot of industrial businesses don’t have President’s Day off. It would probably be better to ride there on a weekend.

The Columbia Children’s Arboretum is not well marked. I rode up and down that street looking for it and never found it.

How did I do?
It was clearly the first bike ride in a very long time. I had a longer route planned, but 10 miles was the limit for me, so I cut it short. I rode very slowly and it was nice to be out.

Glorious Bicycling Moments/Neat Things:
Mount St. Helens was out.

NE 13th Ave. was a mishmash of houses. There were older houses that felt free enough to do whatever they wanted, say paint large flowers on their garages.
There were gated communities. This made me laugh. That flimsy gate isn’t keeping anyone out who doesn’t want to come in, and anyway, a gated community in this area? You’ve got to be kidding.
There were also McMansions next to very modestly built houses. If you’ve got to locate your McMansion next to a run down 60s ranch, you still haven’t made it.
NE Bridgetown Rd turned out to be interesting. The road has been in the news lately
because the US Army Corps of Engineers wants to cut down all their trees. Bridgetown Road is a levee and the Corps doesn’t like trees on the levees. I was under the impression that the trees had all been cut down, but this picture clearly shows trees.
I was also surprised to see that Bridgetown Road had fancy condos on it.
From newspaper reports I expected a bunch of houses like this.

There are a lot of house boats in the neighborhood. It was a fun place to ride.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Walk to Lowes

I needed to walk to Lowe's today and because I didn't have church this morning, decided to take a longer way to see how it connected to my usual route. What I foudnd was a bit of a surprise.

Oregon does this thing I love called "One Percent for Art." Whenever there is a large construction project, Oregon law requires, "not less than 1% of the direct construction funds of new or remodeled state buildings with construction budgets of $100,000 or greater for the acquisition of art work which may be an integral part of the building, attached thereto, or capable of display in other State Buildings" What this means is that whenever there is a big construction project, we get pubic art. The Max lines are a great place to see art.

This is my favorite art on the Yellow Line. Due to my not-so-fabulous picture, you might not be able to see, but along this bridge between Kenton and Delta park, there are these great flaming comets. They remind me of pinballs and it is fun to see the trains shoot through the pinballs and makes the bridge look like a large public pinball machine. The artist was inspired by 50s car culture. Back in the day, the people who lived in Vanport, a housing project built during the war for shipbuilders, used to race their cars on the back roads in this area of North Portland. Eventually Portland International Raceway was located in North Portland. My normal walk to Lowe's involves bypassing this sign and walking all the way up to that brown sign in the distance. Then I take a right and another right and voila! There is Lowe's. Sort of. I still have to walk though a few parking lots to get there. Today I took a right at the sign and figured the road would loop about before I hooked up with Hayden Meadows Drive and Lowe's.

I turned out to be entirely wrong and for a very rare reason: I had the street running the wrong direction in my mental map. In my mind, Schmeer Road ran East/West, or perpendicular to the freeway. By taking this route, I realized that it actually is a North/South street and runs parallel to the freeway. It was incredibly disorienting, but once I realigned my directions, I realized that this route was about 10 minutes shorter than my previous one.
Schmeer Road looks like many places located next to a freeway. Big box stores, gas stations, chain restaurants, auto parts places. It's not pretty, but I have no neighborhood hardware store, so I have to wade through all of this to get to a big box hardware store.
Schmeer Road also has Portland Meadows, the horse racing track and also the place where my brother saw a Grateful Dead concert in the 90's.
I love walking by the Burrito House. It puts a smile on my face because to me "Burrito House" and "Fine Mexican Food" don't really exist in the same place. Maybe "Good Mexican Food" and "Burrito House", but anything with "House" in its name doesn't get to use the word "fine" in my book.
I'm not sure what this building is being used for, but it is very well taken care of. It is always a highlight of my walks when I head North.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written Feb 1-10

  • Feb 1. Erin. Congratulations on her new house.
  • Feb 2. Commissioner Randy Leonard about his dumb idea to ban duct taping spots for the Rose Festival Parade. Stirring up trouble where there was none, that's what he's doing.
  • Feb 3. Chris. Thank you.
  • Feb 4. State Senator Margaret Carter. No on UO Basketball Arena financing plan.
  • Feb 5. Rose Quarter Ticket Sales. Good service.
  • Feb 6. State Representative Tina Kotek. No on UO arena.
  • Feb 7. Chelsea Cain. Because I love her books and her weekly feature in the Oregonian.
  • Feb 8. Felicia.
  • Feb 9. The Editors of the Oregonians HGNW. I suggested a story idea.
  • Feb 10. Dr. Cottrell.

I've also started keeping track of who wrote me back. I'll have a report next time.


The Bee Cleaners have moved around the corner to a new location. I haven't seen any evidence of a new "Honk" sign in the window, but I never heard anyone honk for curb service anyway. This sign is one of my things that I love about Portland.

Buildings and Sky.

Sometimes I like to look at the way the building line up against the sky. The descending roof lines of these buildings, as well as their increasingly dark colors, struck me as quite lovely the other morning.

Requiem for an apron.

I don't normally steal things, but when I knew I was quitting Bread & Circus, Whole Foods Market, I did take home this apron. Though part of working at B&C was a low point in my life, another part of it was something I look back on with nostalgia. One of the better parts was the uniform. I liked wearing the chef coats and the crisp white aprons.
I cooked with this apron for years, but my whitening powers are weak and it quickly faded into a grubby gray, then got even dingier and I had to stop using it, for fear that no one would eat anything I made while wearing it. It sat in my closet for a few years because I didn't want to just throw it away. Today I did, but not without taking a picture.

Lint Progress: Savvy Plus

I love Savvy Plus. One of the things I hate about shopping is that it is so uncomfortable. In retail stores, I tend to feel grubby and worried that I "shouldn't" be shopping there. It's mostly all "me" stuff, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Being on the top end of normal clothing stores isn't fun, either. I tend to feel huge in normal retail stores. Savvy Plus is the solution. It's a clothing store for sizes 12 and up with resale and some new items. Both are reasonably priced.

And, it is run by Gaya who completes the package. She's very nice and full of good energy and also has my favorite combination of leaving me alone to navigate the store, but also providing more attentive service if I want it. She let me take her picture, even though I could tell she doesn't like to have her picture taken. Who wouldn't want to buy clothing from someone so great? It's also the kind of store where people pipe up with their opinion if something looks great on someone. The whole experience is shopping without all the baggage.
I hit the pants first. Gaya nicely told me to leave whatever didn't work in the dressing room. I appreciated that, as it is one of those things I'm often not sure about. I tried on six pairs of pants, but nothing worked there. I wandered around the store looking for a new black sweater that fits. I found a sweater-like thing that ties in the front. It was 50% off so only $7.00. When I got home I banished the "bit too small" sweater from my closet to the donate pile. That was a nice feeling.
I also found this jacket which fits very well and has both black, white and gray in it. It was 30% off and came to $16.80.
Savvy Plus. If you are female, size 12 or larger and live anywhere near Portland you must go there. Don't delay.

I've just realized that I might not need any more blazers/jackets/sweaters. I think I need to do step two of Ready to Wear before I shop again. That would be figuring out how many outfits I have in my closet and generating a list of what I need. I'll do that tomorrow.

Lint Progress: Closet Cleanout.

Today I did the big closet clean out as recommended on Ready to Wear. The plan was to go through everything and only keep things that I love and I am currently wearing. The rest go into piles and get put some where else. My piles were: Out of Season, Tailor, Donate, Other Closet, Like.

Tall order. I suspected that I wouldn't love many of my clothes. Thus, the "Like" pile.

The closet before:

And with everything I love. That gives me 3 skirts, one pair of pants (I was wearing them) two tanks, 2 shirts, 4 sweaters/jackets. I added back in a lot of the "like" stuff. Loving everything will be a goal for the future.
I then moved onto my drawers. Before:

And after:

Here are my plies:
This is a pile that cropped up mid-sort. It is the "cut these t-shirts up to save for the quilt you are making someday" pile.
Here's the "like" pile.
The "summer clothes" pile on the left and the "put it somewhere else" pile on the right.
On the left: the "donate" pile. On the right: I had nothing to go to the tailor, but these shoes are going to the cobbler before spring arrives. I love them.
Shoes I like that went back into the closet.
The following is a list of the "like" items I put back, and the reasons I'm not in love with them:
  • 2 black tank tops--cut a bit too low for work.
  • Orange striped shirt--faded
  • Green sweater--nothing to wear with it. It also draws attention to the psoriasis on my arms
  • red long sleeved shirt--faded
  • black sweater--is a bit small, but I need it to complete outfits, so it has to stay for now.
  • straight long black skirt--I wear it all the time, but I know it isn't the most flattering thing.
  • khaki pants--I had them hemmed before I washed them and they are a bit short. I've also gained weight since I bought them and so they are a bit tight. Until last week, my only pair of pants.
  • black skirt--I'm on the fence about if this is a flattering skirt or not. Also, I don't think it looks very good with flats, but I don't wear heels.
  • Long black skirt, a-line. I keep reading that short people shouldn't wear long skirts.
  • Running shoes--I really need a new pair, but if buy any new ones, I will destroy my clothing budget.
  • Black heels--I hate heels because they hurt my feet. Still, it's good to have them on hand, and these are more comfortable than most.
  • Old running shoes--I wear these for project work. It doesn't matter if they get paint or sawdust on them
  • black birkenstocks--I've been wearing these every other day in fall, winter and spring since 2004. I'm a bit tired of them, but buying new shoes would (as above) destroy my clothing budget.
  • sliver heels--I actually really like these shoes a lot. They aren't really the kind of shoes you can walk in though, so they aren't practical. I tend to carry them to events where I wear them. Then I don't walk too much.
Now my closet is much less cluttered and I have an entire empty drawer in my dresser. The next step will be making outfits and generating a list of what I need. I'm starting to suspect that this project will be longer than 40 days.