Family, History and Love

Wanda and I have been discussing, of late, the need to set down in writing some portion of our family history so that in the future our children and grandchildren will have the stories and tales of our lives direct from the source. The technophile that I am, I choose to do this online so that the what we write will be accessible and available for comment to our wider family (though I reserve the right to moderate those comments).

To that end, I have repurposed this blog. In coming posts, we will endeavor to provide an abridged story of our life (hey, everyone has their secrets). We're writing this for our children and their children and those that come later so elements of these tales will be familiar only to our family,

Monday, August 02, 2010

Back from Belize

Belize was great. We snorkeled with the sharks, snuba dived withe the sea turtles, climbed ancient Mayan temples, and drank copious quantities of the local rum and beer and ate our fill of seafood. After a few days home to rest, take care of some chores, and to play with two of our grandkids, we're off for a visit with our son and his family, including our little granddaughter, in Mesa Arizona. We'll take the fast route down, spend some time with them, then take a slow, scenic route back that will include the Grand Canyon, Historic Route 66, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Mono Lake, Carson City, Reno, and scenic views of the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascade Mountain Range. It should be a fun trip - especially the visit with the family.

We'll post more photos and information about our trip to Belize in the days to come, but we'll be traveling for a couple of days so bear with us until then.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weather Woes!

It's been the wettest and coolest June I've seen in the 14 years I've lived in the Pacific Northwest.  Some here are calling it Junuary, and I can't disagree. Usually by this time of year we've had plenty of dry weather, a couple of heat waves, and I'd be thinking about when to turn on my sprinkler system to keep the lawn green. Not this year, though.

We've had a few nice days here and there, but never more than two or three in a row. The Jet Stream seems to be driving the Pacific moisture right into the Portland area, and frankly we're getting pretty tired of it.  We did have a decent weekend this last week, and Wanda and I managed to get out for a ride on the MP3 500 and headed up to visit our friends, Mark and Gabi, out on Bald Peak. It was a fun ride, but the temperature at the top crest of the mountain was at least ten degrees cooler than down in the valley. We stopped for a quick break on the way at Bald Peak State Park and took some photos. It was nice to be able to see the mountains and horizon for a change.

Wanda looks pretty good in her riding gear, don't you think? We took a walk around the park to check out the views of the Mount Hood and the surrounding valleys. Riding has been one of our get away activities lately, since we've been spending quite a lot of our time watching two little ones. It provides us with an excuse to get out of the house and to do a bit of exploring. Unfortunately, it is quite weather dependent as neither of us have any desire to ride in the rain and cold.

Well, with any luck, the rains will end soon and we'll get some warmer weather. That will get us out in the yard, out on the town, and maybe even out on the trails for a hike or two. If not, there's always Belize in July, and Arizona and Mexico in August. We'll find a way to dry out one way or another.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Visiting the South

Just a short week ago, I returned from a 10 day trip to my home town of Douglasville, a small town in a mostly rural county about 25 miles west of Atlanta. I hadn't visited there since my mother's funeral back in August of 2007 and I really felt the need to spend some time with my dad who is turning 74 this year. He had had back and neck surgery earlier this year and I had sent my oldest daughter to stay with him for a few weeks while he recovered, but I really needed to see him as a few phone calls each week just isn't the same, though he'll probably outlive all his children.

An unusual tree in my dad's yard - this is the flower bud.

This is a partially open bud.

This is the fully opened flower.

And this is the full tree - my dad gave me a cutting from it.

I alway feel a bit of trepidation when I plan a visit back to the South. I haven't lived in Georgia since I was 18 years old, though we did live in South Carolina and Florida from 1985 - 1993.  I always feel like I've moved on from a lot of the attitudes and biases that still permeate the region, and I'm never sure how well I'll be able to bite my tongue and not get into any political, religious or social arguments. Actually, it turned out pretty well and my tongue was only slightly sore at the end of the trip.  I did, of course, encounter some attitudes that run counter to my world view, but they weren't so strident that I couldn't just ignore them, though I did have to say a word or two to one of my nephews over the course of a dinner.
The Southeast experience significant flooding two years ago.
Some of the repairs are not yet complete.

I enjoyed spending time with my dad, though. Although he's an ordained minister, he didn't bring up religion at all to me. I did, however, spend quite a bit of time listening to his gospel music, but that was nostalgic for me since we all spent a lot of time at church, revivals, and "singings" with him.  He did have on DVD of a gospel group in concert that was quite good. The music was good and the singers were obviously having a lot of fun playing their music and joking around with each other.

Over the course of my visit with my dad, I felt like I accomplished quite a lot with/for him. The first day I was there, I was able to complete setting up his wireless network, connect his computer and printer to it, and set him up a gmail account so he could send and receive e-mails. My sister had done most of the work before I arrived (connecting the wireless model up and setting the password), but it was fun to help my dad enter the 21st century. During the rest of the week we replaced the faucets in his downstairs apartment, refinished some of the caulking on the downstairs tub, pulled wild blackberry vines out of his shrubbery, planted a dozen tomato plants for him, and helped him with a few smaller projects around his home.

I did manage to get some time for myself as well. I got out for a hike along Sweetwater Creek one afternoon. The heat and humidity were certainly more that I was used to after living so many years out of the South, and I was soaked from collar to waist by the time I returned to the air conditioned car, but it was well worth it.

Sweetwater Creek

The ruins of the New Manchester Textile Mill along the creek.

Looking upstream from the old mill ruins.

Rough water and storm clouds in the distance.

A creek bed of granite.

The Monday after my arrival I was fortunate enough to be able to meet an old friend from high school for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. Tim was one of my best friends in middle and high school and we spent 6 years in band playing the trombone (Tim) and the tenor saxophone (me). In fact, both Tim and I joined the Navy out of high school and I moved up my active duty date by over a week so we could go to boot camp together. Alas, Tim had a medical condition that kept him from completing his service, while I went on to complete 21 years of total service.

It sure was good to see him again, though the years have definitely changed us both. Tim had a terrible auto accident a few years ago, but has made a remarkable recovery considering the extent of his injuries. What amazed me though, was Tim's great attitude and sense of humor about his ordeal. He mentioned that we was hoping to write a book, and I hope that he does. I, for one, would be among the first to buy it.

I also managed to go fishing with a boyhood companion. Randy and I were the best of friends while we were growing up together. He moved away sometime when we were in high school, but until he moved we would fish, ride motorcycles, swim, and just ramble around the county together. We were in 1st grade together and spent lots of time at each other's homes while we were growing up.  In any case, the last time I had seen Randy was at my wedding over 31 years ago, and shortly before my trip to Georgia he and I reconnected via Facebook.  I learned that he had moved back to Georgia after living many years in the Florida Panhandle and we made arrangements for me to come up to meet him in Woodstock for some fishing on Lake Altoona.

Lake Altoona at Dawn.

We made a day of it. I met Randy at 6 am on a dock and we headed out for a day of fishing. When we were lads, fishing mean cane poles, small hooks, bobbers and catching grasshoppers or digging worms for bait. We fished in small pools and streams, often in pastures or along the side of highways. Our catches typically included bream, small catfish, and other panfish. This fishing trip was quite different. Randy has a center console fishing boat with an oxygenated bait tank, a 150 hp Mercury outboard, a sophisticated sonar/fish finder/navigation system and a remote controlled trolling motor that was GPS enabled. The fish we caught were significantly different too. I caught a huge crappie and several striped and hybrid bass, while Randy caught even more than I did.  The best part of the whole fishing trip wasn't catching fish though, rather it was reconnecting with a boyhood friend and learning about his life over the last 30 years as well as laughing about all the trouble we used to get into when we were kids. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to meet his wife and family, but on my next trip to Georgia I'll make the time to do so.

One of the dams on Lake Altoona.

Fishing on the lake.

For my dad, the best part of my visit was probably our trip to Biloxi, Mississippi to see some of his grandsons and great grandsons. It's about a 6 hour drive to Biloxi from where he lives, and he wanted to take his new truck to show it to his grandsons. It was a fun trip. Dad and I talked a lot about our family history, relatives I haven't seen in years, and he told me stories about his childhood and mine. We took our time, and stopped a few times along the way to walk around, sit at the rest area to enjoy our lunch, and to enjoy the scenery.

When we got to Biloxi, I was delighted to find that our hotel was right on the Gulf. We could literally walk across the street and stand on a lovely white sand beach. Since we had some time before my nephews got off work, we took a walk on the beach and out to the end of a pier (rebuilt since Katrina) to enjoy the view and for me to take some photos. My dad enjoyed the walk, as did I, but he really enjoyed seeing his grandsons when they showed up at our hotel room a bit later.

Dad at the souvenir shop.

The pier and the lighthouse along the beach.

Bradley showed up first with 5 year old son, Gavin and we got to visit with them while we waited for Brent, his girlfriend and his son, Conner to arrive. Brian, Bradley and Brent's brother didn't make it over, but the rest of us went out to dinner that evening and spent some time talking and catching up with each other.

Brent, Dad and Bradley.

The next day, Dad and I did some souvenir shopping and a little bit of sight seeing. Brent was working, so he invited us out to the terminal to see his workplace and we got a little lesson in how commercial container ships were unloaded and the containers mounted onto chassis and sent out onto the road. Brent certainly has to work hard for his paycheck and I admire his ability to perform such hard physical labor in such a hard environment.

After our visit with Brent we went over to Bradley's apartment (right next to our hotel), and spent some time with Bradley and Gavin and to prepare that evenings meal. Dad had promised his "boys" some fresh cooked biscuits, their favorites, and I offered to prepare the rest of the meal which consisted of cube steak with onions, cole slaw, and creamed potatoes. I'll have to say the meal went over quite well with everyone and we had a fun time eating, chatting and talking about life.

Bradley is an electricians apprentice and he showed me some of the work he has been doing in his classes and on the job. He's quite adept at the vocation and I'm sure he'll do quite well with the rest of his studies and with his chosen profession.

After dinner, a few of us took a walk on the beach and I got some final photos of Biloxi and some of the people on the beach. Brent and Jessica, his girlfriend, wanted some photos of themselves and Conner so I happily obliged their request.

Brent, Conner and Jessica.

Conner enjoys the water.

Conner and his daddy.

Dad and I had to leave the next day as I had to pack and prepare for my flight back to Portland, but we did make it back over to Bradley's the next morning for a final visit with the boys. Dad get to speak with his other grandson that morning, but he wasn't able to talk him into coming over for a visit and that was a shame because I could tell my dad really wanted to see him.

Dad, his grandsons and great-grandsons.

Saying goodbye required a pose in front of dad's truck.

That was pretty much it for the visit. Our drive back to Douglasville was as pleasant as our drive to Biloxi and my flight to Portland the next day was fairly uneventful, though there was the upset child in the seat behind me that I always seem to attract. Wanda met me at the airport and we took a little detour so I could visit my own grandchildren.

I don't know when I'll get back to Georgia for another visit, but I do feel like I made the best of this one.

Friday, April 30, 2010

There's a Kernel of Truth Here

Men Are Just Happier People:
Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack.
You can never be pregnant.
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.
Wrinkles add character.
Gray hair makes you look distinguished.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks and engines.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
Your underwear is $9.99 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.
You never have strap problems in public.
Your can't see wrinkles in your clothes.
Everything on your face stays its original color.
One mood all the time.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.
One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one color for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ryker Dude!

I have only one grandson at this point in my life. I hope to have more in the future, but at the moment, Ryker is the one and only. One thing is for sure, he's all boy. He bundles ten times the energy and curiosity of his sister (and 20 times that of his cousin) in one small bundle. He's a little tornado and one of his t-shirts sums it up succinctly: "Here comes Trouble." But it's the best of trouble and I can't imagine life without this little bundle of energetic joy.

He gives the huge, spontaneous hugs and seems to be always smiling. Nothing warms the heart like having a little boy throw his arms open wide and come running toward you yelling, "Papa, Papa, Papa."

He loves climbing, running, dancing, slides, swings, hot dogs, yogurt, music, dogs, cats and baths. He hates milk, getting his nose wiped, and loud noises. He enjoys sitting on my scooter and making funny noises and loves to get his toy lawnmower out to help me cut the grass. He thinks that when I get in the floor it's time for a horsie-back ride, and when I sit down to watch TV, he thinks my lap is the place to be.

He's my grill buddy, and always helps me when we cookout. Of course, he gets the first taste of anything coming off the grill. One handed grilling can be tough, though, since Ryker insist that he be able to see the food at all times. Fortunately, his attention span is short enough at this age that my arms get frequent breaks during grilling time.

Ryker loves his grandma too, but I think I get the majority of his attention these days. She's not the least bit jealous, of course. :)

It's great to have grandkids, and I look forward to having more in the future, though if there are any more like this little boy, I need to find a new energy drink to keep up with them.

We'll get to have all three grandkids together this July, and it's going to be so fun to see them all interact. I'm sure they'll run us both ragged, but that's really part of the fun of being a Papa.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another Visit with Jocelyn

I had a great visit with Jocelyn and her parents over the weekend. I had to be in Phoenix for a business meeting on Monday evening, so I flew down on Friday evening and was able to spend the entire weekend with the family. I hadn't seen Jocelyn of her daddy since before Christmas, so it was a great opportunity for me to get reacquainted with my youngest granddaughter, who has grown so much since I last visited her. Who would think that a mere 4 months would make so much difference?

On Saturday we essentially spent the morning letting her get familiar with me again. She's a bit of a shy baby, so you can't just snatch her up and expect her to take right to you. So I simply sat in the floor and let her approach me. Pretty quickly were were playing with her Lego blocks, throwing her big, blue ball back and forth (she's getting pretty good at that), and putting her puzzles together. While she's definitely a daddy's girl, I think she enjoyed playing with her "Papa."

Her parents have her on a good schedule and routine. Much like her grandmama, she needs time to fully awaken, so she gets an hour of Yo Gabba Gabba in the morning. He daddy seems to like the show, but I think her mommy just barely handles it. After breakfast, she gets playtime, and on Saturday and Sunday that meant we got down in the floor and scattered toys everywhere. She goes down for about a two hour nap after lunch, so on Saturday I took advantage of that time to go for a walk and to dry out from all the rain we've been getting in Oregon lately.

The weather was beautiful in the Phoenix area over the weekend. The heat wasn't bad at all and the temperatures stayed mainly in the 80's, so  I had a nice long walk and grabbed a burrito for lunch while I was out.  One thing I noticed on my walk was the large number of Harley-Davidson motorcyle riders out and about. I kid you not, during my 90 minute walk I bet I saw a couple of dozen riders, all but a couple of them on Harleys. Arizona doesn't have a helmet law, so the vast majority of them were riding without protective head gear, and I saw a at least 3 riders in shorts and tank tops. Come on, it wan't that warm.

Later Saturday afternoon we went to tour the house that Jeremy and Kristin have made an offer on. It's a short sale, so they're getting a great deal. At the moment, their loan is approved and they are just waiting for the banks on the seller's side of the transaction to approve the sale. With any luck they will be able to move into the house in a few weeks.

I went along with them to see the house, watch Jocelyn and take some photos for them. The house has 3100 square feet of floor space, a pool, a hot tub, and an exterior kitchen area. It's very nice and I do hope they're able to conclude the sale soon. Jocelyn seem to like the house, especially the stairs. She and I went exploring on our own and she wandered from room to room checking out all the closets.

On Sunday we went to the zoo. The Phoenix zoo is smaller, but well designed. The desert landscape certainly lends itself to the zoo's design and inhabitants. The zoo features giraffes, gazelles, tigers, cheetahs, and lions for the larger animals, and a smattering of smaller creatures such as otters, meerkats, and African wild dogs. And there were squirrels everywhere. I think they were freaking out Jeremy a little bit since they got so close to the people.

The zoo features a lovely carousel, and I'm not sure who enjoyed it most, Jeremy or Jocelyn. His smile was certainly bigger than hers.  They also have a small water park area with slides, sprayers and a tunnel.  It was hot enough that day to certainly make it tempting for all the kids. There is a little pond adjacent to the water play area, and Jocelyn really wanted to jump into it. She got a little pissed when her daddy would let her jump in - though, I do think she managed to get at least one foot into the water.

One neat thing about the Phoeniz zoo is that they have a monkey enclosure where the zoo patrons can actually enter a fenced area where a number of monkeys are free to roam within the enclosure. You were prohibted from touching the monkeys or getting too close, but the little creatures were right there in the trees or in platforms with nothing between them and you.

Kristin, thrifty girl that she is, purchased an annual membership to the zoo. I think it cost her $80 for the family pass, but now she and Jeremy can bring Jocelyn to the zoo as often as they want and save the $32 entrance fee. Because she also got two free quest tickets when she signed up, getting me in for free, she saved $64 off that $80 pass on the very first visit. Seems like a great deal to me.

We called it a day around 1 pm as it was Jocelyn's nap time and the day was getting a bit warm (high 80's). All in all it was a fun first time zoo trip with my granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I've always had great memories of zoos. My parents used to take me to the Atlanta zoo when I was small, and Wanda nd I always enjoyed taking our children to the zoo as well. Now, I'm getting to enjoy taking my grandkids to the zoo.

Jeremy had to work Monday and didn't get home until I had to leave for the airport on Tuesday, so I had to say my goodbyes to him that evening. After he went to bed, I went for another short walk and on my way back I stopped in by a place called Tom Ryan's. It was a small hole-in-the-wall country bar, but the staff was friendly and the beer was exceedingly cold. It was nice to be able to sit down, have a cold one, and listen to some music for a little bit. I had a couple of beers, a few pretzels, and then walked back to their place to turn in for the night. I, too, had ot work the next day, so I went to bed pretty early.

On Monday, I had a lunch date with Kristin and Jocelyn at a local park. Kristin had made a friend from an on-line forum for mom's and she was meeting a lady named Kim, her two little boys, and Kim's mom at Espee park and invited me to join them.

The park is quite lovely. Wanda mentioned how nice the Chandler, AZ parks were when she came home from Spring Break, and I have to agree with her. Jocelyn and I had a great time. We chased each other around the park, played on the huge covered play structure, and then Jocelyn had some fun on the water pad.  She really enjoyed the water until the very end when she stepped directly into a large stream of water falling from a fake water tower above her. The unexpected shock of the cold water suprised her and really pissed her off - and when she gets pissed, she has a screech that will clear the wax right from your ears. After that she was done. She just crawled up in mommy's lap and fell asleep.

Unfortunately, that was really the end of my time with her. By the time I got back from work that evening, she was already in the bed, and I had to head back into work the next morning before she awoke. I did get to see her briefly on the ride to the airport the next afternoon, and she sure was cute as she chattered and talked to herself in the backseat on the 20 minute ride, and it was sure nice to get a smile and a kiss from her before I had to fly back to Portland.

After over 10 years of traveling back and forth between Portland and Phoenix, I used to dread traveling, but I sure don't mind now. Too bad there are fewer business reasons for me to travel so much these days, but I'm sure I'll get at least one more trip in before summer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Back from Spring Break

Wanda got back from Spring Break the day after the POTN Portland Meetup. She had a very relaxing and fun visit with our granddaughter, Jocelyn, and with our son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Kristin. Fortunately she brought lots of fun photos back to share with the rest of the family, most of which I've posted on Facebook but here are a few of my special favorites from her trip.

The Chandler area has some amazing parks, and it turns out that Jocelyn is quite the little climber. She seems to match her cousin Ryker in that regard in that the both have no fear of heights and will climb on anything with sufficient protrusions to grip. Jocelyn also enjoys her slides and bouncy play areas. On some of the larger slides she needs her daddy's help, but on many of them she'll willing to wind her way down all alone. You can't fault her for lack of bravery.

She's not nearly as shy, I'm told, as she was when we first visited her in her new home. She warmed up to her grandmother quite quickly and spent a lot of time playing with her grandmother, both at home and in the local parks and playgrounds

Fortunately, there was lots of warm weather and sunshine to recharge her grandmother's batteries and she loved helping with Jocelyn's meals. Jocelyn parents have her on a great schedule with a definite meal time, bath time and bed time. Something her Auntie Talitha really needs to work on with her two cousins. A steady and consistent routine gives small children needed structure to their day and triggers for specific behavior patterns of wake, eat, play, eat, sleep, wake, play, eat, bath, quiet time, bedtime. That was the process we used when our children were younger - or I should say the pattern that Wanda established and maintained during they're younger years.

Children adapt to those routine and their behaviors are triggered by the pattern of the day. The structure is important to them and helps cue them to be hungry, sleepy or playful. A good schedule can accomodate some flexibility in unexpected circumstances, but strives to get back on track as soon as possible. Over time, children learn their schedules well via their biological clocks and can get quite upset if their schedule is disrupted.

Her mommy and daddy have Jocelyn on a great schedule, so Papa and Grandma are going to work getting the other two on a schedule as well so when their mommy goes back to work we can keep it up and accomodate her work schedule.

There's obviously some monkey in this girl's genes. She probably gets it from her mom, though her dad was quite a climber too. As long as she doesn't start hanging from her prehensile toes like her mommy, she'll probably be fine.  I'm not sure what's going on with the tongue though. It might just be a new way to cope with the Arizona heat.

This is one of the many fanciful playgrounds in the area. Wanda told me that she was quite in impressed with the variety and the size of the play areas and structures available in the area near my son's home. From the looks of it, Jocelyn is quiet impressed too.

Little girls can't play outside all the time. When it's dark, they get to go play inside with their grandmother who gives them their batch, dresses them for bed, and reads them their books. And this grandma is a great reader of books, reading every single word with great enthusiasm and with the very best pronunciation.  She also reads with great dramatic flair and wonderful voices, making the stories come alive for her wonderful babies, creating fond memories for the little ones to cherish for many years to come.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Portland Photo Meet

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of Photography-on-the-Net (POTN) met today at the Saturday Market in downtown Portland. We had a terrific weather for the event and 8 our our members showed up to shoot. We all met at the Skidmore Fountain next to the Max Lightrail Line, and dispersed for an afternoon of shooting. Our newest member, Marlene, joined us along with several other members from Washington State. We had a number of locals as well, including myself, Tony Long and Daniel Browning (and his wife and daughter).

To the left here, we see Matt and Marlene meeting each other for the first time next to the Skidmore Fountain. Marlene is one of our newest members and she came down earlier than the rest of us to get a jump on the day and the crowds. She told me she spent a good part of the morning shooting ar
ound the waterfront park. She's a new photographer (or rather, at least new to Canon DSLRs), and seems very methodical in her approach to photography. Not a bad way to learn and grow if you ask me.

Tony Long was the organizer for today's event. He can be seen leading the pack of photographers in the image to the right.

Tony is an enthusiastic photographer and attends almost all of our events. He also tends to get separated from the group more often than not as his photographic style is very deliberative. He's also quite the talker and engaged with a number of pedestrians and street people during out stroll around Portland. He's an engaging fellow and just plain fun to be around.  Tony has a custom title on our photography forum that says, "winded" - combine that with his user name, and you get Tony Long"winded."  A title he earned while defending a post from one of our other attendees, Daniel Browning (seen with the little girl on his shoulders in the image above.

We spent a bit of time at the Saturday Market, then wandered over to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park to do some people watching and shooting. We did take a few minutes to visit the Beer Garden before we headed over to Pioneer Square. Along the way, we got stopped several times and asked "what's happening?" I guess a group of photographers wandering around town with big lenses and professional looking cameras had everyone wondering if there was some special event in progress. I wish I had been quick-witted  enough to answer that we were paparazzi stalking Jennifer Lopez or some other celebrity, but alas I was too slow on the uptake.

Of course, the streets of Portland offered their own unique sites, such as the vehicle in the image to the left. I saw it several times during our stroll to and from Pioneer Square, but I never quite got a long enough look to determine what message the driver was trying to convey.

We took a different route back to the Saturday Market from Pioneer Square and that led us down to Burnside Street, one of the major avenues dividing the city. Burnside and the Willamette River divide Portland into quadrants. Burnside defines the boundary between the north and south sections of town, will the Willamette determines east and west. So, streets north of Burnside and West of the Willamette are designated NW, while those south of Burnside and east of the Willamette ore designated SE.

Portland is known for its numerous strip clubs and, in fact, it's been said that Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in North America. Whether that's true or not, I have no idea, but there are certainly a lot of them. One of the most famous is Mary's, one of the first strip clubs established in the city. Most of us had to get shots of this notorious club, and Mat went a step further - literally a step further, into the street to get a shot of the sign, and I assume the folks sitting on the sidewalk in front of the club.

All in all, is was a fun day for photography with wonderful spring weather for the meet. We're already talking about having our next meet in Seattle and perhaps shooting in the arboretum there. With any luck, we'll have several meets over the course of the good weather months.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Want an MP3-500

I understand the art of compromise, or at least I thought I did. A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, and I thought about getting a Harley. Hey, it's everyman's dream, right? I'm a responsible person. I've taken care of my wife and family for over 30 years. I earn a good living, so I can afford a few luxuries and I've bought just about everything my wife has wanted for our home. I spoil her, our children and our grandchildren.

But, when I mentioned a Harley, all hell broke loose and I was threatened with both divorce and eviction. Okay, I can understand her point to some degree - she loves me and doesn't want to lose me - but she's willing to divorce me and kick me out to keep from losing me? Say that again? Female logic just isn't logical.

So, I thought I'd compromise, so I started doing some research, and I found out that the Piaggio MP3-500 scooter was an excellent choice for someone who wanted the experience of riding a bike while having a more stable and safe platform. The additional front wheel provides extra stability, more capability to handle gravel and sand, and yet maintain cornering capability. The 500cc engine powers the machine nicely and allows highway speeds, but isn't so much that dangerous acceleration and speeds are possible.

So, I took her up to the local scooter shop to take a look - well, I learned there's not much compromise available in her opinion. Hmmm, very interesting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


For most of the past 14 years, there has been a wooded lot directly across from our home. When we moved here in 1996 our neighborhood was only about 6 years old and the area was surrounded by large fields or red clover, hay, and other grass crops. Over the years, the fields have slowly disappeared, replaced by subdivisions, apartment complexes and shopping areas. There are still a number of large fields and farms to the north and west of us since we live on the edge of the Urban Growth Boundary, but the fields directly around our home have been developed.

We had thought the wooded area across from us would remain untouched for some time to come, even though we knew that a major portion of the lot was owned by the Catholic Archdiocese.  About two years ago, though, we noticed surveyors and other workers moving through the trees and orange tape and paint began showing up on the various limbs and trunks.  Shortly after that we were invited to various meetings with the parish as they began to discuss their plans to build a new church on the lot. The church congretation and priest for St. Juan Diego parish were quite good about sharing their plans with us, and Father John, the parish priest came through the neighborhood several times to meet with the residents and to chat with us about the construction plans.

The congregation did some of the initial work of clearing out the brush between the trees during late spring and early summer of 2009, and they had the archbishop bless the construction site before the initial groundbreaking.  The parish children went through and picked out some of the larger trees and named them for various saints. Quite a few of the trees are actually being used in the construction of the church and the larger ones will be used to form the interior support columns in the church proper. In fact, they set some of those interior columns into the ground last week. I'm sure the polished wood will be quite beautiful when the church is finished.

Construction began in earnest in late summer and most of the trees were cleared from the property owned by the archdiocese. They did keep some trees for ambience, but most had to be removed to meet the county requirements for parking. The construction company had to move a lot of dirt fast during the first couple of months of construction since they had to get the area graded, drainage pipes installed, and gravel down before the winter rains set in or they faced delays in trying to work in the inevitable mud pit that would follow. There was a lot of noise during that time, even on the weekends, but once the gravel was down, the construction slowed from a frenzy to a more normal pace.

The parking area is quite large and extends from what used to be a dead end street to near the top of the hill where our house sits. There are still a few trees and bushes directly across from our house, and the church plans to extend the sidewalk that used to end about halfway up the lot all the way around the corner and to connect with the sidewalk one street over.  They also improved the drainage at the lower end of the lot by installing a larger drainage pipe. The plans for the church are quite lovely, and the congregation seems very friendly, It seems that they will be good neighbors to those around them.

I've been sporadically documenting the construction process via photographs since last spring. Today I took a new photo of the building itself and  processed a number of the photos from the previous phases of construction and sent them to Father John so he could share them with his parish he wanted to do so.  The last photo would be much better without the traffic one and the porta-potty in the shot, but there wasn't much I could do about that.

I'm not sure when the construction is scheduled to be complete, but I hope that the church will be a positive addition to the neighborhood. It certainly seems that it will be. Father John has mentioned that the parish hopes to work with the local Parks and Recreation district to improve the undeveloped land adjacent to the church, and it would be nice to have a wooded area with some picnic or meditation spaces in the neighborhood. In any event, we're making the best of it, and I'm actually quite interested to see how things develop.