Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday--What's In a Car?

Never-Never Land Car with Extremo the Clown
I was just leaving the grocery store yesterday and noticed a car coming out of the parking lot.  It had a bazillion stickers all over the sides with all sorts of political and comical sayings, and little plastic figures--perhaps they were toy army figures or little dolls--riding proudly on the hood and roof.  As I passed him, he slipped in behind me.  I couldn't take a picture.  But the most interesting thing I noticed was more than the decorated car.  I noticed that no one was noticing.  No one was pointing, making comments, paying attention.

That's us...blasé to strange cars.  I mean, they are all over.  There's the Barbie car.  The Never-Never Land car.  The Fin car.  And so many more.

The Barbie Car

The Fin Car

Some Interesting Things Car
All those drivers, working hard to Keep Portland Weird.  Join us, will you?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Calling All Quilters

Wenatchee, Washington; photo by Don Seabrook / Wenatchee World
As most of you know, because of the drought conditions there are horrible fires throughout the NW: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming.  There are so many out of control fires that there are not enough people to tend to them.  Thousands of people are losing their homes.  Three firefighters lost their lives in Washington; four more were injured.  Many smaller fires are going untended because there are not enough people to go around to fight them.  Firefighters from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are coming to help the fight.

photo by firefighter Richard Raz
With thousands of homes burned to the ground, thousands of victims of the fires are homeless, losing everything.  As a quilter, my thoughts turn to making something that will bring comfort and warmth: quilts.

Blog Layers of Hope: Quilting 911 is asking for donations of quilts for victims in Okanogan County, WA.  There are two major fires in this area, which is located in WA between Seattle and Spokane.  I have dedicated 13 quilts of various sizes to send.  Unfortunately, the majority of the quilts I have are smaller quilts and they are overrun with small quilts.  They need twin or larger.

They need:
1- Twin and Full sized quilts
2- Toddler Sized quilts
  (no longer needs smaller quilts
3-  Knit or Crochet caps

Those of you who want to send quilts to me to deliver, I will start mailing them in September.  If you need my address, please ask.

If you want to mail them directly:
Mail quilts to:

18740 Ivan Street SW
Rochester, WA 98579

Let's give back or pay forward.
photo by firefighter Richard Raz

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday: Adult Soapbox Derby

It started in the summer of 1997.  Portlander Paul Zenk brought an amazing tradition to Portland after watching a huge adult soapbox derby in San Francisco two years earlier.  His idea was to bring the soapbox racers down from the top of Mt Tabor--our own (semi)active volcano that is right smack in the middle of SE Portland.  According to their website, that summer "six men climbed to the top of Mt Tabor pulling their creations of death and destruction behind them. It was early in the day yet the smell of beer and sweat already filled the air. They lined their impossible vehicles up and strapped on their glasses , helmets and the PDX Adult SoapBox Derby was born."

photos by Jason DeSomer
 While it started out slow all those many years ago, last Saturday over 8,000 people observed as 45 cars careened down Mt Tabor, fed by gravity and beer.  Food vendors ran out of food later in the day. 

Some people begin drafting and building their cars many months in advance.  All are creative and fun.  The winner, #50 Gravity Wave, made it down the seven-tenths of a mile track in 75.4 seconds.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner of Portland was second in the Derby's race, followed by Fang, also of Portland.

Any idea how he actually got into this car??

Once again we bring beer, food and fun to the community...just our way of keeping Portland Weird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Coming of Age

I started making clothes my grandgirl when she was six months old. Over the years I made her a bunch of clothes.  Dresses.  Pants outfits.  Nighties.  Jammies.  I even made her a formal dress for the Father-Daughter Dance when she was in the fourth grade and a Belly Dancing outfit to wear at Drum Circle.

The Christmas Kaity was four and a half, I made her three outfits--two dresses and a pant/top set.  By the time she opened the third matching box, she turned to me and said, "I hope it isn't cloooothes!"  ut of course it was.  And when she tried on the dresses, she loved them.  But she hated the top with the pants.  She said that it made her look like a clown.  And I could see her had multi-colored stripes with zigzag on the collar and sleeves.  Pretty darn cute.  But right then and there I promised to never again make her clothes for a gift unless she asked and that I would never buy patterns or fabric without her wishes.  Thus started our many treks to Fabric Depot together.

We would stop at the pattern department and peruse through the patterns.  She would select about 10 she "loved!!!" and I would have her narrow it down to maybe three.  Sometimes I'd make four because she "just had to have it." Then we would wander through the entire store for fabric.  When she was four and five, her choices were of the fabric in the pictures on the patterns.  Hours of wandering through the store looking for just the exact piece.  Then I'd suggest something similar but add buttons here and there...the buttons were the tip-off...and away we'd go.
Every Fall before school started, we would take a trip to the store and select five patterns so she had a new outfit for every day of the first week of school.  We'd start with the Outdoor Sale for fabric that was anywhere from $3 to $6 a yard.  This was much cheaper than the $10.49 and $13.99 a yard fabric inside the store.  She always had colors and patterns in mind.  This girl has a great sense of color and has always had an eye for a pattern she wanted.  Sometimes I didn't want to make the dress or top, but I had promised and TaDa!  It happened.

Last year, when Kaity was going into the sixth grade, she selected only three patterns. They were all exactly what she wanted.  The patterns were no longer in the Children's sections of the pattern books.  Golly gee what size should I make?  Not a child??  

The top was simple.  All it took was the right size elastic for the waist.  I sewed in tiny round elastic in four strips.  And the collar...I made it the best I have ever made a collar :)  

The dress was sweet with a heart on the back.  We both loved the dress.  The third pattern was a purple plaid tunic that could be worn with tights or with jeans.  And we bought an elastic belt to keep it good.

Seventh grade: Wednesday was suppose to be Fabric Shopping Day.  When I asked her what time she wanted me to pick her up for lunch and fabric, she smiled sweetly and sadly and shrugged her shoulders.  I asked her if she still wanted me to make her some school clothes and it was so hard for her to say it, but no.  

"Mamaw, I don't wear dresses anymore and you said you can't make good pants that I would want to wear.  And I wear tee-shirts now instead of blouses."  I said that was okay.  We'll do something else soon.  I smiled and hugged her and reminded her she will have proms and parties and dances and a wedding...not to hesitate to call me and we'll go shopping for fabric :)

I knew this day would come but I had hopes it would come when she was like 19, not 12.  But for 12 years I had fun making her clothes and for eight solid years together we had a wonderful time selecting, trying on, modeling, hemming and wearing to everywhere.

And it jes don't get no better than that :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

10-4 Good Buddy

What we had today was a convoy.  Five semi’s driving north in the right lane on the section of I-5 which passes over the Marquam Bridge and follows the river opposite the city.  Three semi’s drove in the left lane.  I drove smack in the middle of these big boys.

I was an interstate truck driver, heading north to Seattle to leave my freight.  From there I might join the guys for a few beers and tomorrow I will head out for Kansas to deliver a new order.  My truck is a bright speckled candy-apple red with gorgeous chrome trim.  Lots of gorgeous chrome trim.  My handle is “pollyanna.”  I have “pollyanna's’s Big Boy”  painted on the door in black.

It had been hot and humid all day, bugs splattering on the windshield that made it difficult to keep vision clear.  The traffic had been heavy most the drive, stop-and-go for what seemed like no reason, no accidents, no hang ups.  Just blogged up.  But the traffic had settled for a bit and the sight of the river was crystal-clear.  Like the perfect postcard photo.  I glanced over the river to see the whole city blinking with life.  The hills behind the city were a wheat-colored expanse and I caught my breath at the beauty.  And then as fast as it cleared, the traffic blogged up again.  I had to keep my eyes on the road.

“You hanging in back there, polly?”

“10-4 good buddy.”

And then the traffic on the right slowed and the trucks on the left moved over....and I drove on, once again becoming a woman driving home from a visit to Eugene in her red VW Tiguan.

What?  You mean you never play pretend while you’re driving?  Hey! I was there, man.  I was there.

Sometimes when I am driving down a city street and see this group of people interacting, I imagine they are part of a movie.  You know those simple sweet movies that show us a slice of life?  Like the time I sat at a red light at the corner of Division Avenue and watched this guy drive his shiny motorcycle around in circles at a small Mom and Pop gas station.  Three other guys were standing around watching, laughing and pushing each other.  I figured it was a scene from a movie.  The young man had just bought this motorcycle and his buddies were standing around with envy watching him show it off.  They were obviously good friends - probably have known each other since the fifth grade.

What?  You never make up stories while you wait for the light to change?  I was the director, man.  I was there.

I used to ride the bus to college every day.  As it crossed the river into the city, I would imagine I was a resident of Amsterdam, crossing the canal to work.  I would listen to the people around me practice their English and smile to myself.  I never told the person who was sitting next to me because that person was usually the weirdo one.  They always found me.  And he could probably be easily drawn into my fantasy.  Would probably take over my fantasy.  Would probably become my no wait...that ain’t where I meant to go....

I would walk from the bus stop to the University and pass an old Victorian apartment building on the corner.  The upstairs apartment had a bay window and I always imagined myself living there--without children of course.  Maybe a cat or a bird.  Living in the city.  I imagined myself walking up to examine the apartment when it came up for rent.  I imagined how flowers would look in the windows, how I would sit and study long into the night on the window seat, looking over Sixth Avenue.

This weekend I had a good visit with my friend in Eugene.  I had a surprise meeting with a couple who are two of my Mom's oldest friends when we went out to breakfast.  Great stories to hear about their lives.  Long drive from Eugene with a massive bunch of cars on the road, traffic stopped here and there along the way.

And I was a interstate truck driver :)
peace :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Living Down a Dirt Road

I was a lucky kid.  I grew up living down a dirt road that dead-ended at an orange grove.  We didn't have many neighbors, but Donny and Gary came to stay with their grandparents every summer.  They were our age and I was going to marry Donny when I grew up.  We played outside all day and board games in the evenings.  Then hide-and-seek after dark.  The rules change after dark, you know.

My dad and grandad built our house, finishing it the day after I was born.  It sat on a quarter-acre lot and they built the house back so that we had a long driveway and a big front yard.  Every summer when the sun was setting and my shadow long, I would dance and sing with my shadow out at the end of the driveway.  

Cooper's Farm
Across the road from our house was a farm.  Old Mrs. Cooper's farm had orange groves, walnut trees, an old barn where Mr. Cooper--her son--extracted honey from his bee hives, and a huge field that was leased out to a company for farming.

We loved playing at the farm; there were many interesting things to get into.  First there were the trees to climb.  Secondly, there were the irrigation ditches to play in.  And best of all was the fort.

The fort was build on an old truck bed.  Gary, Donny, my sister Patty and I built that thing.  Old Mrs. Cooper helped us put the tarp over the roof so we could play there if it rained.  It was built against a walnut tree, so we could climb out the window and into the tree--perfect for keeping away from the enemy.  Did I mention the boys liked to play war best?

The farm's growing field was just outside the fort's door, with an irrigation ditch curving around the fort area.  We played in the ditches when they watered the fields.  One year the migrant workers--I always talked to the workers--widened and deepened the ditch so we could play in the water more.
The field looking out my bedroom window

Down the road were fields.  One was a dairy field.  We never played in that field because we heard stories about how mean was the bull.  But the largest field was empty.  That's where we played great imaginary wars and mobster stories and had dirt clod fights.  We dug out two large rectangle holes so we could have dirt clod fights against one another.  We were in the war trenches in those holes.  We were safe from the enemy in those holes.  Did I mention that the boys liked to throw things best?

Next door was Mr. Curtis' place.  He had an old car that we played mobster in.  I was a gangster's moll and always took names like "Annette" or "Donna."  My sister was always one of the gangsters and took names that could be either a boy's or a girl's name.  Gary always took his big brother's name.  We got shot at a lot.  Did I mention the boys liked to play shooting stories best?

The property that ran behind our property was long and narrow, ending at the field.  Three goats lived there. When I was about 10 or 12 I would go out to the field and sing and make up plays for the goats.  They were a very attentive audience.

Mrs' Cooper had a huge pepper tree in front of her place that I loved to climb.  Our dog, Dodger, climbed up with me.  We'd sit in a crook of the tree about 5 feet up, concealed by the branches.  Dodger watched for danger; I wrote teenaged angst poetry.  I would also climb out the fort window at times and write teenaged angst poetry.  Dodger stayed in the fort, warding off imaginary danger.

The fort and the fields and Mrs. Cooper's farm remained on our road through my high school days.  It was all lost when the city--we were incorporated into the city sometime after I left home--opened the road through to the next street and we joined Howard Ave.  The road was paved.  The farm land sold and an elementary school was built.  Housing tracts were put in behind the school and other streets were connected.  Mrs Cooper's farm was torn down--along with our fort and the great pepper tree--and housing tracts were put in.  The field was filled with a mobile home park and the cow pastures became housing.  Eventually, after Dad died, Mom sold the house and moved into a senior living complex.  Progress.

But I was such a lucky girl.  I had great adventures living down a dirt road, driving a gangster car, tending to soldiers, singing to goats.  Taking long bike-hikes with Pat and Gary and Donny.  Playing board games.  Using our imaginations.  And playing hide and seek after dark when the rules change.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday: Flying Carpet

Some cities identify by their sports teams.  Take Pittsburgh.  Big news, front page news, is about the Steelers, about the Penguins, the Pirates.  Portland, as much as we love the Trailblazers, don't necessarily identify with them.  No, we love to keep things weird.  We have this love relationship and a strong identity with the carpet at Portland International Airport.

For years and years, Portlanders have stood on this carpet and snapped pictures of their feet standing on it.  Yes, if you GOOGLE PDX carpet and standings or PDX feet selfies, you will find hundreds of examples of people who have snapped these feet selfies.  

We have shoes by NIKE, Adidas, and KEEN made with this pattern.  We have socks, shirts, cell phone covers, purses, and sports gear with the pattern.  People even have tattoos of the pattern. We have a beer--Rogue beer--with the pattern on the label.  The carpet has it's own Facebook page.  It might seem strange for a city to identify with a carpet, but this is Portland we are taking about.

The love affair with PDX carpet has come to a frenzy because the carpet is leaving, being replaced by a new carpet with a new pattern.  People were grabbing feet selfies like crazy.  Pieces of the carpet are for sale.  I even thought it would be cool to have a little piece of carpet framed for my wall...a little piece of history.  But probably not.

New carpet has been feet selfies will be created.  We will love the new but mourn the passing of the old.

Ringing in the new
Remember--enjoy life and keep things weird when you can.