Optotype

Line 15 currently detours across the Hawthorne Bridge due to a temporary weight restriction on the Morrison Bridge, which is under repair. I hopped off the bus at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, passed the Salmon Street Springs Fountain, and walked south along the Willamette to the eye clinic, just over a mile upriver. I saw some strange markings on the sidewalk, as if math really is fun. A gaggle of signs befouled the views, whispering orders, dangers, and cautions. I noticed there were no warning signs near the mooring bollards, and wondered how many people walking along ogling the view have tripped over them. Rarely do I have to yield to slower traffic.

Just south of the Hawthorne Bridge, I noticed an interesting, kind of improvised, lean-to-dock moored just off the west bank between the bridge and the park beach, downriver from the yacht harbor. The boat and dock set-up reminded me of Anais Nin’s “Houseboat,” and of Penelope Fitzgerald’s “Offshore.” And the usual gaggle of geese casually befouled the park beach area. I don’t mind the geese, though the city has been taking precautions to minimize the goose poop problem. But I was wearing the new Fila walking shoes Susan recently scored for me, and I wasn’t sure the goose path was how I wanted to break them in. Portland is called the City of Roses. You would think the roses wouldn’t mind the geese.

Modern accommodations for travel, appurtenances for getting around – what a mess! Just north of the Ross Island Bridge, workers were just about finished dismantling the Project Pabst Festival. It was a little early to be thinking of a cold PBR Tall Boy. I walked along “River Place,” above the small harbor, and passed by the “River Walk Cafe,” enjoying the cliches, and at the corner of Meade and Moody thought, how about “Mead Place,” or the “Moody Walk Cafe”?

A rowing crew rounded the pilings of the Marquam Bridge (a concrete brouhaha that spans and expands the definition of bridge), the submarine moored behind them on the east bank, below OMSI and the Portland Opera. The Pabst Horse trotted off on a trailer. The Portland Aerial Tram (constructed at a cost of $57 million), juxtaposed with the old Ross Island Bridge, reminded me of the 20th Century: “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)”.

November Day Along the River

How are you? You are how
this is too easy
a still gift of photographs
almost like a real letter.

You like flowers, flowers like you, like
Peonies, purple green red yellow mopped hair
Marigolds, red orange bites
Red geraniums in a real clay pot
and those little white hanging threading flowers,
I don’t know their name, whispery white.

I am 1,000 characters
all so small you can’t see them
like tiny little squiggly bugs.
You are 1 bodacious character
like a lobster on the ocean floor under
blue waves under an orange sky,
or a swell cat, an orange tabby
with blue eyes,
who never scratches but purrs
and curls in your lap for a nice nap
on a hot sunny summer day,
a sleepy breeze cooling powdery sky.
Evening comes and a glass of white or red wine
and dinner and the sun goes down
and the moon comes up
up and up and up and up
so the path is lit.

But now is not summer
now is the beginning
of a long winter
without you.

This is Portland for Christmas

I asked Eric if for Christmas he might like a couple of books. It was a busy week, with the Christmas baby on her way, and so Susan and I found ourselves in Powell’s on Hawthorne two days before Christmas looking around for things we thought Eric might find interesting, not an easy chore, since we have trouble usually identifying things that even we might find interesting. It’s not easy finding the right book at the right time for someone. Choosing a book is like picking a campsite. But Susan’s a genius at this sort of thing, and found Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs, perfect, and Nickel and Dimed: Undercover in Low-wage USA, by Barbara Ehrenreich (the perspicacious reader will pick up on the perfect pairing these two books make).

Then, waiting in a long Powell’s last minute Christmas line with a hundred other Portlanders on Hawthorne, I spotted what appeared to be a little, homemade paperback, This is Portland: 13 Essays About the City You’ve Heard You Should Like, by Alexander Barrett. Three of the essays are only one sentence long (illustrated, to give them a bit more heft), and I liked that he still called them essays, and that you could read an entire essay standing in line at Powell’s on Hawthorne and that by the time you got to the counter, you could finish the book, and if you didn’t like it, you could just put it back. But I did like it, and I thought Eric would dig it, and the essay that cinched the deal (two pages long, still standing in line), was “Hawthorne V. Belmont,” about the supposed value clash between the two alt-commercial Portland East-side strips.

The author of This is Portland had only moved to Portland eight months before the writing of his book, but the book’s undated, which we find a bit weird, but Portlanders are supposed to value weird, so there you go, but a bit of Toads sleuthing and we came up with an on-line version of the book ($5 at Powell’s, but we’re more than ok with that, see below), and not only that, but we discovered (ok, this was actually pretty easy, the sleuthing part, since Alex the brief essayist included his website address at the end of his book) an amazing website devoted to himself, the Portland essayist, apparently hosted by his parents.

About being ok spending $5 for something available on-line for free: obviously, emailing somebody a link doesn’t make for much of a gift, but beyond that, we continue to support hard copy whenever we can, and Alex’s little hard copy book has already been shared and read by at least six others, folks dropping in on Christmas day to visit and share-alike. It’s a wonderful Portland.

Related: “Portlandia“; “Portlandia Portraits