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The Greening of Portland

28 Mar

We’ve had a lot of rain this Winter & Spring.

A local TV station posts daily rainfall updates and I like to see how much above “normal” we are. Today’s stats are as follows:

MARCH RAIN to Date: 7.01″ Departure from Normal: +3.75″

Rainfall since October 1st (water year): 41.25″ Departure from Normal: +15.33″

As I drive home over the Marquam Bridge, I look at one of the  Portland’s many other bridges, the Hawthorne Bridge. It has numbered markings on its tower foundations and I use these to help me monitor the height of the Willamette River. The markings are now under water.

One of the really funny aspects of the wet Pacific NW climate is how non-living things turn green with moss.

The asphalt in parking lots has taken on a greenish hue,

as have the back steps of my home.

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These rocks in my garden are positively fuzzy.

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But the best bit of out of place greenery is growing on my neighbor’s car.

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Friday afternoon traffic

18 Mar

I could have left school during my end of the day plan period, instead I stayed and got ready for Monday. I knew I had to get home quick, walk Lucy, then head out again for Rocket’s vet visit and transfer to his new owners. Yes, it was a rainy Friday afternoon, , but how bad could the traffic be?

Really bad, I thought as I merged onto Highway 26 after navigating the suburban roads that got me there. I quickly began to rethink my master plan. If we kept crawling along at less than 10 miles an hour I’d never be able to make it. I could just go straight to the vet, though that would probably get me there too early. 

I kept driving in my lane and noticed that today, the other two lanes were moving faster. Although the lane I was in would take me my preferred route, I might have to take an alternate, I thought.  I could change lanes and drive through downtown. As we continued to crawl along, I started checking my driver’s side mirror. Suddenly a space appeared and I moved into the lane to my left.  Just one more lane to go.  Another space, much larger,  and I was driving the speed limit again.

I manoeuvred through the Pearl District, crossed the Broadway Bridge and then… flashing lights in front of me. A fire truck was sideways, blocking access. A big accident? I couldn’t see as I turned and took the detour.

I got home a little later than I’d hoped, but not as late as I feared I’d be. Poor Lucy, got a “hello”, a poop walk, and dinner. then I was out the door.

As I started driving towards the vet, another journey that required highway driving, I worried about the slow traffic I’d encountered on the way home. Fortunately, it was smooth sailing South on I-5. For drivers, going North, it was a different story. They were at a stand still. I filed that info for the trip home.

Everything went well at the vet. The new family was super excited. The daughter of the owner, who had been keeping Rocket was weepy.

I took an alternate way home to avoid the I-5 traffic jam. It looped me back to Highway 26, which, two hours earlier had been slow. By the time I returned to it, it was clear sailing home.

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Water Woes

15 Mar

 

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I arrived home yesterday to this message that started a conversation among the residents in my ten-unit condominium.

What the heck? How can that be? I wondered as I hustled to the kitchen and turned on the faucet. Nothing.

I shot off an email letting people know my water was off too and called the water bureau’s emergency line. Apparently, a contractor in our neighborhood had hit a water main and created a “water emergency”. Well, that would explain the work crew and the “road closed” sign I’d  seen down the block when I got home. The woman I spoke with wouldn’t say when work would be finished. When I told her I was thinking I should go to the grocery store and get some water she said that they anticipated the repair would be done by evening.

Okay. Maybe I don’t have to make a water run, but I decided to take stock of what I had.

Nothing.

No bottles of water. No three-day emergency supply. Not even ice cubes I could melt. I did have some cans of flavored mineral water in the fridge… I was failing basic preparedness.

What would I do if it took longer, and I couldn’t shower tomorrow morning? What would Lucy drink?

I thought about all the comedies I’d seen where water is cut off and the characters use water from the toilet bowl. They never think about the water in the tank, which could be boiled. Is that potable? I could boil it to be sure there was water for Lucy. Could I bathe in that? The ick factor is high, even from the tank. So many unanswered questions.

Fortunately, the water came back on just after seven.  I am glad I won’t have to shower in toilet water, but I think I should get some emergency water. Maybe I should start building a real emergency kit while I am at it.

 

 

HUB Reading Challenge Check-in 2/19

19 Feb

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I’ve spent the last two weeks putting books on hold at the library. Several things came in this week and I managed to read two of them, both excellent graphic novels.

First, I read Lowriders to the Center of Earth by local librarian, Cathy Camper, which won a Pura Belpré Award.

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Publisher’s Summary:The lovable trio from the acclaimed Lowriders in Space are back! Lupe Impala, Elirio Malaria, and El Chavo Octopus are living their dream at last. They’re the proud owners of their very own garage. But when their beloved cat Genie goes missing, they need to do everything they can to find him. Little do they know the trail will lead them to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the Underworld, who is keeping Genie prisoner! With cool Spanish phrases on every page, a glossary of terms, and an action-packed plot that sneaks in science as well as Aztec lore, Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is a linguistic and visual delight. ¡Que suave!

I read the first book in this series, but forgot how wonderful it was. The way Spanish is naturally incorporated into the text makes this a fun read for beginning Spanish speakers of all ages.Raúl the Third’s illustrations capture the flavor of  lucha libre and the Aztec underworld.

The second graphic novel I read was on YALSA’s 2017 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. Brian Vaughn’s We Stand On Guard  incorporated French into its text.

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Publisher’s Summary:SAGA writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN teams with artistic legend and MATRIX storyboard artist STEVE SKROCE for an action-packed military thriller that will have everyone talking. 100 years from now, a heroic band of Canadian civilians must defend their homeland from invasion…by the United States of America! The hyper-detailed combat between badass freedom fighters and giant f***ing robots .

Unlike Lowriders, the French text is not translated, so I fell a little bit superior to monolingual (American) readers. You know the old joke:

Q: What do you call a person who speaks three languages?

A: Trilingual.

Q: What do you call a person who speaks two languages?

A: Bilingual.

Q: What do you call a person who speaks one language?

A: American

Sorry for that digression, but I love that joke!

We Stand On Guard is an excellent graphic novel, that captures the eternal Canadian concern over their neighbor to the South.

Hope Springs

14 Feb

This morning in the merry, merry wood

The trees with laughter shook.

They’s seen old Winter hobble past

A-leaning on his crook.

The crocus called good-bye to him

And the violet from her nook,

For Spring is here in shoes of green

Everywhere I look.

Our grade eight vocal ensemble sang this madrigal in three-part harmony. It was the late 70’s so I doubt any recordings remain, but the lyrics spoke loudly to me this weekend, from decades long past.

I had stepped out my back door to take out the trash, when my eye caught sight of something unexpected.

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What was the source of that splash of green under the leaf debris? Upon closer inspection, my hopes were realized.

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The daffodils are coming up!

It has been a hard winter. Unexpected snow and ice had us miss 10 days of school. Last week, we had torrential downpours that have caused landslides. The weekend gave us sunshine and you could feel the hearts of the city rise.

Saturday, as I took Lucy for a longer walk that we’ve had in a while, I heard birdsong. Actual birdsong! I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had heard anything other than the cawing of crows. My heart swelled with this mellifluous sound.

I know we are in for more rain, and true Spring is still a few weeks off, but this little foretaste of Spring has put a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

Hooray for Baby Lincoln

27 Jan

I was a Baby Lincoln when I was young. I was the youngest (by 4 minutes) and very shy. In fact, I was so shy, my parents thought about giving me an extra year at home and letting me start school in grade one. Fortunately, they decided to let me try out kindergarten and boy, did I find myself!

Baby Lincoln didn’t find herself in Kindergarten. She has never managed to come out from the shadow of her older sister, until now.

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We learn the back story of the Lincoln sisters and Baby’s real name!

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Publisher’s Summary: What if timid Baby Lincoln broke free of her bossy sister and set off on an unexpected journey? Kate DiCamillo presents a touching new adventure set in Mercy Watson’s world.

Baby Lincoln’s older sister, Eugenia, is very fond of telling Baby what to do, and Baby usually responds by saying “Yes, Sister.” But one day Baby has had enough. She decides to depart on a Necessary Journey, even though she has never gone anywhere without Eugenia telling her what to take and where to go. And in fact Baby doesn’t know where she is headed — only that she was entirely happy in the previous night’s dream, sitting aboard a train with a view of shooting stars. Who might Baby meet as she strikes out on her own, and what could she discover about herself? Will her impulsive adventure take her away from Eugenia for good?

A lovely story of self discovery.

Another snowy day

11 Jan

I started kindergarten in 1969. I have few memories about it, but this I have are very clear. One of those memories is encountering Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.

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The book spoke to introverted little me, who loved making snow angels.

So, here I am, almost 50 years later, sitting at home after a huge snowfall in Portland, enjoying our 6th snow day of the school year. And I read Andrea Davis Pinkney’s  A Poem for Peter,  which tells the  Ezra Jack Keats biography, focusing on how he created The Snowy Day.

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It is a beautiful, poetic tribute to a man and a book. And the perfect thing to read on this snowy day. Pinkney’s poetry fits Portland today:

But when it snowed,

oh, when it snowed!

Nature’s glittery hand

painted the world’s walls a brighter shade.

She connects snow to equality.

Snow made opportunity and equality

seem right around the corner.

Snow doesn’t know who’s needy or dirty

or greedy or nice.

Snow doesn’t choose where to fall.

Snow doesn’t pick a wealthy man’s doorstep

over a poor lady’s stoop.

That’s Snow’s magic.

Snow is magical and it is especially so for children. I hope kids of all ages  in Portland get out and enjoy the snow today. Play, throw snowballs, make snow angels.

But be a snow angel in another way, if you can. Four homeless people have died of exposure in Portland in the last 10 days. Think about them, too. Act if you can. Donate if you can’t act. But do something to help the homeless feel that the snow brings Magic to them, too.

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