Wednesday, April 30, 2008


There are two kinds of people in this world. One kind sees a black eye and says "Oh my goodness, what happened to your eye?" while simultaneously thinking "Domestic Violence Victim!" The other kind sees a black eye and says "Awesome!" and gives a thumbs up.

There are a few of the second kind at my workplace and in other areas of my life. There are many, many, MANY of the first kind. Okay, I don't know that all of them were thinking "Domestic Violence Victim" but I bet at least half were.
It actually looks pretty good in this picture. It got much darker over the next few days. Oh my goodness what did happen to me? I had a meeting with my U-lock.
As I explained roughly 300 times: (Seriously. Most kids at school, plus their parents, plus other people equals roughly 300.) I was lifting my bike out of my brother's truck and my U-lock fell off and hit me. It hurt briefly, but it was more painful to recount that story again and again and again.

When I went inside and grabbed ice for my eye, Matt became the first to ask the question. After I explained our conversation went thusly:
Matt: Sweetheart! People are going to think....
Me: I know what people are going to think.

It only becomes funnier when you know Matt's vocation. He is a counselor for domestic violence abusers.

I think the amount of concern affected my health. I developed flu-like symptoms over the weekend and had to miss church. I was a bit relieved. It saved me 30 more times of telling the story.

Read in April

blah blah blah
What I meant to say up there when I wrote "blah, blah, blah" was that my measly book reading this month had to do with my math class, etc. Still, what few books I read were quite good. Also, I notice that I didn't spell check before posting. I am completely out of practice.

The Running Mate
Joe Klein

The Rope Walk
Carrie Brown

The Abstinence Teacher
Tom Perrotta

Started but didn't finish.
Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss
Pam Johnson-Bennett
A really great guide to bringing your new cat home and living happily with it. Johnson-Bennett covers everything from getting down on your knees to see things from kitten height to encouraging daily play sessions to helping solve problems such as spraying and clawing furniture. I didn't make it through this whole guide before it had to go back, but will get it again when cat ownership is closer to my future.

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening
Steve Solomon
I. Love. This. Book. As you might have guessed by the title Solomon thoroughly explores how to grow things if you live west of the Cascade Mountains. Our climate over here is different than the rest of the US and so a lot of general gardening guides don't work for us, for instance, mulching with hay or leaves around a plant will bring the slugs a chomping.

While not a how-to guide, Solomon has many handy items included in this book: a month-by-month planting guide; advice NOT to do a soil test as well as the organic fertilizer he recommends you stir up yourself and use; instructions for planting your garden so you never have to water it; a 4-5 year rotation of land to avoid insect infestations.

This guide will be by my right hand when planning my garden next year. The only drawback I could find was that reading it made me long for more ground in which to grow things.

Didn't even start.
Psycho Kitty: Understanding Your Cat's Crazy Behavior
Pam Johnson-Bennett
This is probably also a good guide, but I had my fill of Johnson-Bennett's other cat-raising guide. This book had more actual case studies. I will reference it in the future.

Letters written in April

Two things paid off this month. My LEX membership proved itself well worth the $15.00 joining fee. Without it, I would not have had eight letters in my mailbox. Also my friendship with Sara. Six items from her appeared in my mailbox including a very nice care package with some stationery, postcards and an eraser. An above-and-beyond level of support as far as I'm concerned. Thanks so much.

Also this month the resolution morped into "write a letter most days" as there were 8 days of 30 where I did not write for various reasons. I'm not really beating myself up about it too much as I had the resolution, the garden and the math class going on. And full time work.

Note that my SAPE letter came back as undeliverable. I'm okay with that as LEX has brought me great dividends, but in case any of you were pining for a pen friend from the former Soviet Union, you should know that SAPE didn't work for me.

AND this month I finished off my first tablet of writing paper. It's the 200 sheet lined- jobber that we always had around when I was growing up. I like the size, it is great to hold onto when writing on the train or bus, and the less-than-$3.00 price is right for me.

Without further ado:
1 April. Sara
2 April. Sara
**Care package arrives from Sara
3 April. Elizabeth Gilbert
**postcard from Sara
4 April. LEX "Please, sir. More lighthouses, more bridges.
**postcard from Sara
5 April. LEX "Arm chair traveler? Let's trade p/c's of our trips. -Bob."
6 April. No one.
7 April. No one.
**letter back from Sara
**letter back from LEX Blogging (wrote on 3/13)
8 April. LEX "Ah, spring! When all thoughts and letters are fresh and new! As we throw off winter, let us LEX together in the warm sunshine!"
**letter back from Jenna
9 April. LEX "Will you make a good old person?"
**letter back from LEX "Topic letters"
10 April. LEX "Must one suffer before one can write?"
**letter back from LEX "ready to discuss serious subjects"
11 April. LEX Jan. Topic Letters.
11 April. Postcard to Trimet re: really cool bus driver.
**letter back from LEX "Favorite Food"
**letter back from LEX "Movies"
12 April. April, Sara, Shawn. (Winners in my comment contest.)
13 April. Jess, Kathy. (Winners in my comment contest.)
14 April. Sara
**letter back from Sara
15 April. LEX Diane. Movies.
16 April. Sara
**SAPE application returned.
**Also of note, finished first 200 sheet writing tablet.
17 April. Jordan. Birthday Card.
18 April. No one.
**letter back from Trimet.
19 April. No one.
20 April. Marilyn Sewell. Senior minister at my church re: sermon "Is Marriage Obsolete?"
21 April. No one. (my notes say "exhausted")
**postcard Sara
**card from Kathy thanking me for the prize sent on 13 April
**letter back from LEX Jan
**letter back from LEX "Favorite cities, travels, rivers, campgrounds."
22 April. Sara
23 April. Diane.
24 April. Sara.
**postcard Sara
25 April. No one.
26 April. No one.
27 April. Jenna.
28 April. Sara.
**letter back from LEX Diane.
29 April. No one.
30 April. Sara

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The grass is greener and Bizarro slays me.

This is near my mom's house.Another "crazy lady laughing to herself on the train" moment.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Menucha. Why I love it so.

Every April, the Religious Educators at my church gather for a retreat at Menucha. Menucha is a retreat and conference center in Corbett, Oregon, right on the Columbia River Gorge. At one time Julius Meier (of Meier and Frank Department Stores) owned the land, but now the First Presbyterian Church of Portland owns the 100 acre property.

I love Menucha. It is beautiful and quiet and the food is fabulous. As in previous years, I was happy just being there.

A pictoral tour:

The main hall where all the food is served. At one time this was the Meier house.

There are all sorts of ways you can wander around Menucha. This path is opposite the main house.
View, including a tiny bit of the Columbia River Gorge.
There are many huge trees that are good for climbing.
This is Ballard Hall, where we stay.
Huge trees!
With low enough branches for climbing.
More meandering pathways.
The labyrinth. It is almost done. It has taken many years to get this far.
At a place where you can look out over the Columbia River Gorge, there is this stone fireplace and a swimming pool.
We are always there when the swimming pool is empty.
Looking over the Gorge. From here you can see Crown Point, though not in this picture.
Snow on the mountains.
This time there were poems hanging from the trees.
This tree looks to be a good place to read.
We meet in this big room.
The view while eating meals. The bread and the strawberry jam there are divine.
Meal time.
Sleeping quarters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--American Graffiti

I watched this movie first when I was 13 and fell in love with it so I have seen it many times. Viewing it now, I am simultaneously seeing it at ages 13, 17, 19, 22, 27 and 33. I saw it at a retreat and there were more people watching it by the end of the movie then at the beginning; it's a magic movie that way--it pulls people in.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

End of building.

Though I love old buildings pretty much unequivocally, there is some part of me that feels a thrill when I see them being demolished. Demolition work is probably pretty satisfying--especially if you can't hear the clarion call of history whispering to you as you wield your heavy machinery. You come to work in the morning, you pull down a roof or a wall and at the end of the day, there is less building. This continues until there is no building and you move on to the next soon-to-be-gone building.

Progress continues on the tearing down of the Dental Arts Building and block. I took a "before" picture and posted it here.

One of my favorite things in cities is to read the old, painted advertisements on the sides of buildings. On the east side of the Dental Arts building is a very large ad for Zell Brothers, the store that was on the other end of the block.

Amazing Internet discovery! Someone else in Portland loves building ads too. They have a whole blog devoted to it.

A view uninterrupted by trees.
It was a windy day and the strips of detritus hanging from the ceiling were blowing in the wind.
And the wind rustled through the blinds in this window.

That part of me that loves destruction thrills at the Mercantile awning crumpled on the sidewalk in this picture.

See wind invade the building:

And watch it blowing the blinds:

Monday, April 21, 2008

I and my camera are one.

I keep a five year diary which is helpful when I start to wonder, "how did I celebrate Memorial Day last year?" but also fun to see what went on in previous years on that very day. My friend was amazed earlier this year because I could tell her that three years and two days ago on that date we had her un-bachlorette party. She broke up with her finance and we celebrated by painting pottery.

April 17 marked one year with my camera. Ideally I would post a one year post with a picture taken by my camera, but we will just have to have a text post. It's one of those nights.

I love my camera. I've always liked photography, but felt self conscious lugging around a camera. My Canon Powershot fits in the palm of my hand and goes everywhere with me. I can take a picture at a moments notice. My pictures aren't as composed as when I took film pictures, and I still really miss going to get the packet of pictures, but I wouldn't trade my digital camera for anything.

On that note, my camera is full of pictures you won't probably see for awhile. I've begun taking a class which means that blog time has been cut down. Things are still going on, I'm just having trouble finding time to write about them. Books are being read, movie has been seen, letters are being written (though not tonight). Squeak is even visiting and Matt is making somewhat hopeful sounding comments that begin "But when we get a cat....." I'll write about it someday, just not in the near future.

Unless someone wants to pay me to stay home from work and blog? Maybe?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Miss Pettygrew Lives for a Day.

I love Frances McDormand and Amy Adams but I didn't love this movie. Was it because I didn't have enough money to buy popcorn? The costumes and the sets were fabulous, but I just couldn't get into the story.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Abstinence Teacher. Tom Perrotta

Ruth is the high school health teacher forced to adapt an abstinence-based curriculum. Tim is a recovering alcohol and drug user trying to hold on to the sobriety he found when he started attending a local evangelical church. The book throws these two characters together at a point of adversity and then examines how their interactions affect their lives.

This book was readable enough, with the well developed characters I am used to from Tom Perrotta. However, I felt that the point at which the book ended was the ideal starting point for the story. All that came before it seemed like a very long set up without a payout.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A walk through Northwest Portland

On my way to my acupuncture appointment, I captured these images.

The lovely doors of St Mary's.

I love finding signs with outdated language and/or customs. "You tradesmen, you enter over here. Not through the front door."
This looks like a pretty typical multi-family residence in Northwest. But wait! What is that sign in the lower left? (I actually crossed the street to find out.)
Ah! My place for orthodox church on Sundays.
Who needs sleep when there is coffee? Who needs a recycle bin, when there is a truck bed?
I mean really, who?

Monday, April 14, 2008


My walk to work has uncovered this rivalry in my favorite building:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Their uniform

Walking back to the house, I snapped a picture of these two girls.
They are clearly wearing their unofficial high school uniform of the moment: Uggs, skinny jeans, plain white long sleeved t-shirts, long hair, worn down.

When I was in high school my unofficial uniform was: converse high tops--laced up to the second grommet from the top--baggy jeans, baggy t-shirt with funny sayings and hair either worn down or up in a scrunchie.

What was your unofficial uniform?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Running Mate. Joe Klein

There's a certain genre of movies I refer to as the "white men in suits" movies. They are the kind of movies where many of the main characters look alike and not much is done to differentiate them. I'm always slightly confused during these films, because the characters are so interchangeable. So in the third reel when it is revealed that Mr. So-and-so was really a double agent/mafia don/retired baseball player I always think, "Wait, who was Mr. So-and-so?"

This book was much like that. The story of a long time Midwestern Senator had a lot of characters who were sparingly introduced and then referred to later not only by either their first or last names, but also a nickname now and then. "Who is this person?" I kept thinking as I read.

But I kept reading and aside from having little idea who was talking 60% of the time, I enjoyed this book. Charlie, the main character was wonderful to follow through his trials and tribulations. He really wanted to do the right thing, which was difficult in the changing political landscape of the early 90s. His father was a fun character who would wander in and out and I enjoyed a few of the staffers too.

I enjoy politics (though not so much these past years) and it was fun to have a fictional window to a Senate campaign. There were story threads that could have been more developed and story threads that wandered on forever, but overall this was a pretty okay book.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


It started during a teacher team meeting in January. We, the adult leaders of First Unitarian Church's YRUU, were having all sorts of ideas. "We should have brunch." someone said.

"No, we should have 'brUUnch'" someone else countered. (UU for Unitarian Universalist)

"What would we eat?"

"Well, fruuit. And muustard."

And we were off. Umlauts were suggested, food was planned and on April 6, the advisors descended on our kitchen to cook our bruunch.

Jimmy made fabulous pancakes and waffles. His secret? A dash of cinnamon.
Deborah (in lovely apron) made fruuit salad and Marcia (in red hoodie) made a lovely spinach egg dish.
I was in charge of bacons: regular, turkey and soy.
Here is why the youth constantly refer to me as "Marcia" and vice versa. This is actually Marcia, not me, removing something from the oven.
Deborah cleans. Ron, the other member of our team, served the important role of heeding the call, "Ron, can you help me with this?" He also took these pictures.
We wave and cook!
The finished spread. Jimmy, me, Marcia, Deborah and Ron pose in front of the food.
And the youth descend.

It was later remarked that we could think of our bruunch as "the first annual bruunch."

The Rope Walk. Carrie Brown.

Alice turns 10 at the beginning of this book. She leans out the window at her birthday party and as she leans, we are introduced to her five older brothers, her professor father and the house keeper Elizabeth who came to work when Alice's mother died one month after her birth. We also meet other sundry characters including Theo, the grandchild of Alice's neighbors Helen and O'Brien, who is staying with them for the summer. Theo and Alice become friends and together they befriend Kenneth, an older neighbor.

The book is best when describing Alice's feelings and emotions. There are so many great examples of being 10 years old. I especially loved the friendship that developed between Theo and Alice and this was another book I didn't want to finish. The closer I got to the ending, the more I set it down.

On an unrelated side note, the author's picture fascinated me. It may have been because her hair was pinned up, but her steely expression to me seemed to be straight out of a frontier photograph from the 1850s. And I mean that as a compliment.

Dorky State Quarter Holder in the Flesh! er, Cardboard!

It's a lot worse for wear, but I'm happy to have it regardless.
One can see where it has been bent.
And torn.
And stabbed for no reason. Alaska hasn't even been released. There was no quarter there.