I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Urban poetry

A brownstone bannister, angled into the abstract.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday bird blogging

I like the way this cardinal's legs blur into the background so it looks as though he's doing a belly flop.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pale blue dot, redux

NASA released this spectacular photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft on July 19th: Earth, from the dark side of Saturn.

Best use of my tax dollars ever.


I've always liked these light fixtures (in an otherwise nondescript walkway by my office building) but this is the first time it occurred to me to take a picture.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Urban poetry

This is an otherwise ordinary wall on West 46th Street in Manhattan. For unknown reasons a person or persons also unknown decided to leave a bunch of wire hangers on this handy protuberance.

And who is going to decide it's their responsibility to take them down?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Adventurous pictures

A typically lush front garden in northeast Portland, right, plus another visitor admiring the flowers, below.


I never wrote about my last day in Portland, after I drove back from Manzanita.

I had an early flight to Seattle the next day so I was staying at the airport Radisson, and I planned to take my time driving back from the coast. I had originally thought I might go to a wildlife preserve up in Washington, but decided I'd rather spend some more time in Portland.

What had changed my mind were the directions to get to the airport. There's one highway all the way from the coast to downtown Portland, but then you have to go south on I-405, which you take to I-5 north, which you take to I-84 east, which you take to I-205 north, before finally exiting at NE Airport Way -- four interstates to get from downtown to the airport!

I looked at a map online and found that wherever I drove on the east side of town I was likely to run into SE (or NE) Sandy, and that would take me to NE Airport Way as well. So that's what I did instead. I got off the freeway in downtown, crossed the Willamette, and drove around the east side of Portland looking at things on my way to the airport. Some of it was industrial, some of it was seedy, some of it was quiet neighborhoods with lush front gardens.

I stopped for lunch in a taqueria, I went for a walk along streets full of flowers, I watched birds in a park. I got lost once, when Sandy branched into two streets and I took the wrong one, but I found my way back easily enough. I didn't take many pictures -- mostly I was in the car -- but here are a few.  This charming community service project above, from Ashleigh and her friends, is not something I could have seen from the interstate.

Sunday bird blogging

It's steam room hot, jungle hot, sauna hot. We've had more than a week of oppressive heat and humidity, so the thought of frolicking in the snow is tantalizing.

Here's a junco doing exactly that, only a few months ago.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday reflections

And geometries. Portland, still.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Urban poetry

An abstract painting I liked in a Portland gallery.

I kid. It's actually old paint on the side of an unused newsstand, or vending stand of some kind, by Pioneer Square. But it could be a painting.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Community. Adventure. Service.

It's been a week since the World Domination Summit. I've been thinking as much about the people I met and the conversations I stumbled into while waiting in line or getting coffee as the formal presentations. Many of the people I talked to were also there for the first time, and didn't really know what to expect. Like me, they follow Chris Guillebeau's blog, read about last year's summit there, and decided that they wanted to be there this year.

I expected that the other attendees would be smart, energetic, and interesting -- and they were -- but what struck me the most was how curious everyone was. They wanted to know things. They were interested in finding out. They wanted to understand, explore, figure out.

I've always found a lack of curiosity, the many people who just aren't interested in anything beyond themselves or their immediate circles, frustrating, even though I know I sometimes (often?) veer too far in the other direction -- because I find so many things interesting I don't always have the focus I should. I need to mix a little more discipline in with my curiosity.

But so much creativity springs from basic nosiness. It's hard to get to What if we tried it this way? if you haven't started with How does that work? And maybe that basic curiosity explains why this particular group of smart people seemed to have so many remarkable achievements among them, and for that matter, how we all ended up in Portland last weekend to begin with.

One of the best presentations was by Jia Jiang on his rejection therapy project. He was having trouble dealing with the rejection he faced trying to get a new business off the ground, and he decided to cultivate rejection by making outlandish requests of strangers in order to desensitize himself to the word NO. He knocked on a door and asked if he could play soccer in the back yard. He asked Southwest Airlines if he could make the safety announcement before the flight took off. He asked a stranger to play Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock. As he expected, he got to experience a lot of rejection. But a surprising number of people said yes to his requests.

It was inspiring. And I know that while I do try to do things that scare me, I rarely put myself in situations where I can be rejected. I may have been nervous about renting a car and driving out to the coast, but it wasn't as though I had to pass an audition first, or that there was much of a chance that Avis was going to say No to my request for a rental car.

I've decided that my first goal is to start asking people if I can take their picture. I've let shyness and my own dislike of being photographed keep me from doing this; I've taken pictures on the sly, or let the opportunities go. But I'd like to do some portraits, and apparently, it doesn't actually hurt to ask.

Sunday bird blogging

One bird shot from the hike at Alder Creek Farm.

I was following a hawk and trying to get a picture of it flying, but lost it in the trees. Then I saw this out of the corner of my eye and took the picture. Whether it's the hawk or something else -- a kestrel, maybe? -- I can't tell from this picture. The tail is definitely hawkish, but the wings aren't, though they're at an angle and can't really be seen.

But it's flying.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who's gonna drive you home?

There was an overlook on Highway 26, about halfway to the coast, and I stopped there on my way to Manzanita last week. The view wasn't that interesting, but I followed a trail into the trees, and quickly found myself in thick forest, wild and unmanicured, carpeted in pine needles and dead leaves. It took my breath away.

And of course, I was only able to stop there because I was driving myself, and not watching the scenery slide by through a bus window. That's the great American romance of the automobile in a nutshell: freedom and independence and adventure.

It's a romance I felt myself excluded from for most of my life; although I grew up in California, my family didn't have a car, and I didn't learn to drive until I was 25 and leaving for New York. Then for years I only drove on visits home or in rental cars on vacation, and since my mother died and we gave her old Dodge away, I haven't driven at all.

So I was nervous about renting a car and driving to Manzanita, but that was the only way to get there, and I no longer accept being afraid to do something as a valid reason not to. The Passat I rented had such sensitive brakes I seemed to bring the car to a dead halt just by exhaling, but fortunately for the pedestrians of Portland, the pickup was on level 10 of a parking garage; by the time I got down to street level, I'd had an adequate refresher course in driving.

I was still tense most of the way to Manzanita; my left hand fell asleep at one point because I was gripping the steering wheel so hard. But the drive back to Portland on Wednesday was pure pleasure: whipping around the curves through the trees on a sunny day in summer. Oh yeah -- I remember how to do this! Wheee! Bravery pays off.

Saturday reflections

The Heathman Hotel in Portland reflected in the building across the street.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homeward bound

Sitting in Seattle, waiting for my flight to Newark.

The flight from Portland was on a commuter turboprop -- it was like straddling an electric toothbrush for half an hour. My teeth are still rattling.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cannon Beach

It was still mostly foggy and chilly on the beach, nice for walking, or huddling with your family to conserve body heat. All those colorful chairs for sunbathing were empty.

Haystack Rock

I really had meant to drive up to Cannon Beach to see the famous Haystack Rock while I was staying on the coast. But I found myself quite content being lazy in Manzanita, and walking on the beach and reading and daydreaming and taking pictures of driftwood and clouds.

So I stopped off on my way back to Portland. Here it is: a rock. A REALLY big rock.

Driftwood closeup

Drift away

This was a tree on the beach at Manzanita, uprooted somewhere and washed ashore here. The roots were a wonderful tangle of driftwood and seaweed and sand, and other unidentifiable flotsam and jetsam that got snagged along the way.

Last breakfast in Manzanita

I'm driving back to Portland later today and flying home tomorrow, so this was my last coffee on the beach in Manzanita.

This little shop is just called the Coffee Shop, and if you happen to be in the vicinity of Laneda Avenue in Manzanita, I can personally recommend the breakfast sandwich. The donuts seem to sell out quickly though, so come early.

Urban poetry

Layers of old paint on a rusty lamppost in Portland.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another view of the Manzanita cliffs

In the evening light.


Sea grasses on the dunes in the late afternoon.

Red dragon

I may have struck out with the birds, but I did get this shot of a dazzlingly red dragonfly.

Alder Creek Farm

There's a birder's trail at this farm, just a few miles down 101 from Manzanita.

I probably needed to get there much earlier in the morning to see any birds at eye level, but the trail was a rough path winding through fields of wild grass, with mountains in the background, and it was a nice hike.  The hawks and crows and swallows wheeled overhead -- far, far, overhead -- but there were bees and butterflies and dragonflies in the flowers which more than made up for it.


A pair of gold slippers sized for a little girl and a pink bathrobe were left on a rock tucked into the sea grass. They've been there since last night, so I don't think the little girl is coming back for them.

Morning fog

The coastal fog burned off early this morning, but it was too windy to walk on the beach. I had a latte on one of the benches sheltered by the dunes, and breathed in and out to the rhythm of the waves.

Still ruminating.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunset, the unconventional version

After dinner (really good pizza at Marzano's -- whole cloves of roasted garlic, peperoncini, provolone) I went back to the beach for the sunset.

Being a West Coast girl at heart, it still seems to me that a real sunset means that the sun sinks into the Pacific, and it had been a long time since I'd seen one, but what I saw when I turned my back on that whole melodramatic sinking fireball spectacle was just as beautiful: these feathery clouds turning pink and gold in the last rays of the day's light.

Kite surfing

I had to ask what these men were doing as I had never heard of kite surfing before.

When it comes to thinking up new ways to go fast, the human imagination is apparently limitless.



I have a few more days vacation, which I'm spending in Manzanita, a beach town west of Portland. I want to think about things without trying too hard, to let it wash over me and shake out as it will, and there's no better way to do that than with a soundtrack of wind and wave.

More random Portland

Random Portland


Sunday, July 7, 2013

One more park picture

Flowers at the park. We can always use more flowers.


This is the fence along one side of Tanner Springs Park.

At first glance it looks like an ancient wood fence that's sagging in every direction and about to fall over, but it's actually made of old railroad tracks.

Tanner Springs Park

I noticed this small park in the Pearl District when I was out riding the streetcars a couple of days ago, and during our lunch break today, I hopped another streetcar and ate my burrito there.

It has lawns and benches like any conventional city park, but also tall wild grasses and wildflowers, and a stream, like a little bit of undeveloped wetlands plunked down in the middle of the city of Portland. If I lived in the neighborhood, I would be there every day.

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