.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Hospital! Awards Edition

Wrote this up during my recent hospital stay at Providence in Portland. Four days and three nights. Not the best time I ever had.
There's a striking resemblance between how H.D. looks and I feel.

AWARDS: Hospitalized Edition

I'm Finished Waiting in the Waiting Room Award: Me, for puking in the waiting room garbage can after waiting for 45 minutes. Twice. Maybe three times. I was promptly ushered into an office!

Bedside Manner Award: Doctor #3, for his classic one-liner, "I have bad news." The punchline? He really DID have bad news.

Best Prep for Bad News Award: Nurse #7, for upselling me on a dose of Benadryl to go with two Vicodin. Whooooozyyyy! What's this about bad news? What do you mean the pharmacy sent the wrong stuff? Does my head look like it's falling off my neck?

Hasty Exit Award: The priest working the cardiac unit who popped into my room. Uh...see you later?

Best Color of Scrubs: Brown

Best Secret Menu Item Award: Milkshakes! Your choice of vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. Wonder what else "isn't" on the menu....

Good Neighbor Award: The 99 yr old woman next door, who demanded that the nurse "get your hands off me you son of a bitch! HELP! HELP! Get those bitches out of here!"

The Remember It Could ALWAYS Be Worse Award: Me again, for very nearly having to share a semi-private room with one very angry 99 year old woman.

Most Unlikely Compliment Award: To nurse #5 who told me, "You have really nice arm hair." Maybe that's why she was so intent on taping it up.

The Very Special Bell Rings for Little Angel Wings Award: To the little chimes that go off every time a baby is born. So sweet. Even at 3 a.m.

And finally, a programming note: There's still nothing worth watching when you need to watch TV.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Rain on

To quote a screen caption from My Blue Heaven, "Into each life a little rain must fall."

Here at this bend in the river, inhabitants mood as gloomy as stormfronts: billowing packs of grey toppling over the hills west of downtown. A gust of wind, a splash of rain.

Maybe with enough rain, something might sprout from this arid array of old nothings.

No news is still no news. Recent articles? Garden updates? A few and a few more, respectively.

Deadlines fade. Work comes, work goes. We wait for baby and scratch our heads for names.

Kids age in our Portland age.

To mood: To feel that precipitation post-Memorial Day vacation soaks in violation.

This evening, a view from a train crossing the Willamette: a rainbow, arched so low, its ends and pots of gold sunk down in the mud and mire.

And the rain, splattercast.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 23, 2009


happy birthday

Happy 4th to Scout.

And Happy Birthday to Dad, even if last year's was his last. We'll blow out an extra candle for you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Big Sue

As we close out 2008, we take a moment to remember Mr. Susan.

Of indiscriminate breeding, missing teeth, bad breath, and a lot of love.

No cat ever worked harder to climb onto a lap, arthritis and all. And that low center of gravity made him nearly impossible to remove once he got situated.

A neighbor called to say she'd seen our flier (LOST CAT), and that she'd seen a mutilated animal left in a front yard of some people nearby. Some renters. Perhaps a victim of just the sort of coyote attack plaguing the neighborhood. But the time frame was off by three weeks, and she was calling weeks later. It didn't sound like the kind of closure I was looking for. I didn't run down the lead.

So weeks go by, and months, and we last saw him in the triple-digit sweat of summer. Today snow mixes with ice. We've had other, bigger deals since then.

But at night, when I hear the tick-tick of little claws, the pause, then the leap, I can tell it's Mabel, the other cat. Mr. Susan climbed onto the bed by getting his claws hung in the covers, and then dragging himself onto the sheets. Then purring, he'd curl up to sleep on my back.

Male Domestic Shorthair. That's one way of looking at it.

Gone. That's another.

We miss you, Big Sue.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 21, 2008


Fair Enough

We don't write, we don't call. We just...fly.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Fall Planting

Here in the Northwest, our mild climate allows us to maintain some semblance of garden year-round.

Except, in my case, during the spring. Or early summer, for that matter. I mean, we put plants in, but they just didn't take. Is it a garden when you have two cilantro plants and one six-foot purple fennel that wintered over?

So, here we are, green tomatoes in mid-August, the cilantro gone, the basil barely hanging on, strawberries still occasionally forming and rotting.

I mean, the zucchini hasn't even gotten going.

So to the left, a map I made of the replants done this past weekend. 'X' marks existing plants. Three days later, the lettuce, arugula, and basil have all sprouted. The rest gets two weeks, and then I'm going to start midnight-gardening with a bucket full of Miracle-Gro.

And yes I amended the soil. The whole thing is a little embarrassing.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 04, 2008


The New Corner Grocers

A piece on corner groceries that I spent a few months researching finally ran on the cover of The Oregonian's weekly inPortland section, with lots of nice photos. If anyone can actually find the photos online...Pinkerton awaits your call.

The article looks at new ownership of a couple older stores...Cherry Sprout Produce Market, owned by two former employees of Big City Produce, and e.moreland market & kitchen, a neighborhood grocery since the 1920s.

The article also included a sidebar of other small groceries that run the gamut from for sale, to stable, to opening this fall.

It's been a longtime since , but if there's a time for the traditional neighborhood grocer to stage a comeback, it would appear to be now. Rising fuel, food, and shipping costs have undercut some price advantages by bigger stores. And, bigger chains are also looking to establish a 10,000 square foot model...with some even eyeballing the 3,000-5,000 s.f. range.

I don't think anyone I talked to relies exclusively on their corner market for all their goods, but I met a number of people who adapted their shopping behaviors to suit what was available locally--not just from farmers, but from their neighborhood grocer.

I had a photo of the Taylor Court Grocery, somewhere, but now can't find it.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Food Carts, Sharp Knives and the Boulevard

A long-delayed piece on the food cart lot in Sellwood finally ran in today's Oregonian. The article (attempts) to address some of the regulations that food carts have to deal with, and complaints that the rules are unclear, unevenly applied, and unfairly enforced.

Essentially, enforcement happens as a response to a complaint. Meanwhile, vendors can get the go-ahead to open and run their carts, only to find out after the fact that their factory-wired trailers are not in compliance with Portland code (though they may well work elsewhere).

Interesting issue, and an excuse to eat at Sellwood Corner lot a few times. Article includes a round-up of current vendors. Online version of roundup demonstrates miserable Oregonlive formating...no paragraph breaks or indents at all. COME ON!

Last Thursday, my profile of mobile knife sharpener Mike Kraft ran. I saw an ad for his services at Garden Fever one day. He didn't really want to do the piece, and when I called him to tell him it was running he said that work had been so busy he figured it had already run. Sorry Mike.

Finally, the saga of life on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard continues, with this article by Oregonian real estate reporter Ryan Frank. The Portland Development Commission okayed a deal that will let developers get a new loan to pay off an old loan, with that being contingent on signing more leases for the Heritage Building property.

That's a tough sell, unless they plan on leasing themselves the property. Heritage is mid-block, with spaces large enough to make tenants want off-street parking (despite the ready availability of mass transit).

What the article doesn't mention is that the long period of time that it took to bring this project to market (compared with a privately financed arrangement), due to the public nature of the process, probably made matters worse. The longer it takes to get the deal done, the more likely the market is to shift in its preferences and needs. A similar situation has plagued Kings Crossing. And, both buildings got the go-ahead without anchor-tenant leases signed. This is public financing of private speculation, and it's a dicey game.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Let Them Eat Poundcake

Miss Anita Smith, proprietress of Hannah Bea's Poundcake and More, has earned a fair share of media coverage in the seven-plus years she ran her business on Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, here in Portland. It will close this weekend, in debt. But in the past several days, what might have been a swan-song round of coverage instead turned ugly.

S. Renee Mitchell, a Metro columnist with The Oregonian, briefly complimented Smith's most famous wares (the pound cake) before making a little poundcake herself. Ingredients: One Anita Smith, outstanding loans, and the ever-present race-card.

The June 16 (didn't realize it was so long ago...) column is available here, but a couple of choice cuts follow:
"[T]he deepest wounds that have led up to her closing the restaurant after about six years may be self-inflicted -- and more ordinary -- than the media accounts so far."

Mitchell also referred to Miss Anita as "unusually tall." That's an interesting choice of words, given Mitchell's own altitude. I figure her for six foot, anyway. Maybe Renee and I share an Almost Tall complex.

I spoke to a woman the other night who knows Renee (and Anita), and she said Mitchell got it right. And the Portland Development Commission? Someone over there is no doubt cracking open a tiny bottle of champagne... their relationship with Smith had soured pretty badly.

The other article was an interview with Beth Slovic at Willamette Week, which ran today. I like Slovic's reporting, but she manages to aggravate her subjects fairly often. Slovic gives her free rein to rant. It's not pretty.

Reader comments mostly ran along the lines of "Portland Development Commission should have never loaned her the money."

If you take a step back, past the unpaid debts and public financing, Smith has some valid points. They don't warrant a bail-out at this point, but worth considering:
Smith placed her trust in the Portland Development Commission, which returned the favor but then violated that trust with costly mistakes. If you look at the history of this community, it's easy to see how paranoia and resentment might (and did) set in.

Urban renewal has not been kind to the African American community in Portland. Maybe the 1950s and 1960s are ancient history, but if you grew up here, then your parents lived it. Urban renewal tore down neighborhoods, built hospitals and stadiums, and left many blacks--living in those neighborhoods courtesy of redline laws, nothing.

Lots of people have put lots of energy into improving MLK, with public and private dollars. It's a three-mile stretch, much of which has no existing building stock to work with. It's a state highway, heavily traveled, running through one of the poorer sections of town. But almost no one will argue that the boulevard is worse today than it used to be.

A guy at a restaurant opening just off MLK last night said that he and his buddies used to drive what was then Union Ave. "just to see the show," which included lots and lots of prostitutes.

Did I ever eat there? I've had the poundcake a few times. It's good, for poundcake, but I like an egg white cakes instead. Angel Food, for every day.

The signs Hannah Bea's was struggling were obvious. One major indicator: The Banner theory, which is that every banner placed in the windows indicates the degree to which business is bad. Anita Smith had lots to advertise. And then she opened a bar, which stretched the staff and focus even thinner.

I interviewed Smith for my story on N.E. MLK a few months back. She was a piece of the puzzle, but it was obvious that a lot more was going on there. I had 20" for a 200" story, so I didn't pursue some of her claims. But her emails came through in the wee hours (AND IN ALL CAPS). If half of it was true, she had cause to be aggrieved. She couldn't get her lease renewed. She said the business needed upgrades, but she wasn't willing to dump more money into it with no guarantee. And her customer base was moving further north and east. At $4 a gallon, it's a long drive for a piece of pound cake.

Smith was the poster child of the Successful Black Entrepreneur on NE MLK. Maybe she wasn't the best candidate. Then again, maybe if there were more black-owned businesses, the stakes wouldn't be quite so high. Seven years is a pretty good run, and seven years from now, Hannah Bea's will be a distant memory on a drastically changed strip, with more businesses, more housing, and maybe even a streetcar line.

But we lose something without that restaurant there (besides pounds). We lose an example of a local person who scratched out a dream and made it a reality, if only for a little while. We lose an example of public helping private. We lose character and flavor and another remnant of a community that has weathered the storm, that has as the expression goes, "survived the Boulevard."

Portland boasts of having (or wanting to have) the best Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard in the nation. That may be. Or maybe it'll just be the whitest.

some nice photos of our own MLK BLVD, over at MLK in Motion.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Salvage Heart Reunion Tour Dates Announced

Staff at Salvage Heart have been pursuing solo projects recently, including scrambling to make the mortgage, spending our way out of recession, trying to beat the heat, and trying balance caffeine and alcohol intake with OTC allergy meds.

Also, wondering who might like to purchase a travel article on Clatskanie/Cathlamet (note: need to update LinkedIn status).

Also, being pulled slowly but inexorably into the social networking abyss of facebook and linked in.


So anyway, let's re-connect.

Iron Man, the movie: loved it. Big Robert Downey, Jr. fan, and not just because everyone else is. Other favorite RDJr films include
Wonder Boys
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
that one with Ryan O'Neal and Cybil Shepard (Chances Are)

Mary Stuart Masterson...what's she up to these days? Thanks to a crummy Comcast connection, I can't search online and update this without Firefox freezing.

Other news: local elections, in which I discovered that the ballot initiative descriptions made more sense upside down. That is to say, I have not yet begun to file. But thanks to the candidate(s) who have stopped by and checked me off their clipboards.

What else? A slew of Oregonian articles, and some in the Business Journal (which I never see).

One was an update on progress along N.E. MLK Blvd. (apologies to our Uruguayan readership as we detour into local news for a moment...), in which I tried to cram a 3,000 word article (and several weeks of intermittent reporting) into 800 words or less. It doesn't work. Asked my spouse whether people I interviewed would be mad about the piece and she said yes, because no one got to make their full case.

So, more where than came from, but here's the piece.

And here's the Portland Development Commission video about the MLK project.

Other articles of note of late:
A review of Cynthia Ozick's Dictation
A profile of Portland writer Marc Acito
A piece about the PDX Fire Jam getting shut down
and other news about a donut shop, an arboretum, a heritage tree, a bunch of new businesses, and who knows what else.

It's almost race time for The Preakness Stakes, which means that the horse racing conversation will grind to a halt just in time for Memorial Day, or will continue into summertime.

As someone who grew up around horses, I can tell you that they will find a way to get hurt if there is one. Thoroughbreds are spooky and skittish. And they'll run all day long.

Racing is like so many other businesses, where the model has shifted to a swing for the fence mentality. The fact that the owners at the big races are sheiks and hedge funds should tell you something about who can make money racing (very few). The industry has sold itself as a gambling venue. The only personalities are the handful of trainers whose stables have dozens of horses around the country.

Racing should be selling the experience, of standing at the rail when the horses go past, of the morning workouts, of the history. People love to cheer and bet (look at the popularity of the racing video screen icons at other events), but racing has to find them. Instead, it puts together a sloppy show (the increasingly embarrassing Derby broadcast), and disappears except for the Triple Crown and the Breeders Cup.

I remember watching John Henry, the famous gelding, race on network television. Local radio used to broadcast the races at Keeneland. Ask anyone whose ever been to one of the premier tracks what they thought, and if they'd go back: Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Del Mar, Saratoga. The allure of the sport's history is undeniable, but its path to the future unsustainable.

Anyway, it's almost post time.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?