Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Weird Portland Wednesday: Pac-Man Lives


I know that every city has at least one arcade. There was one sweet one that my sons would take the bus to visit--nickles and dimes needed. They'd save their pennies and have a fun afternoon playing video games. The question is, does every city have an arcade that is closed to kids after 4:30p? Does every city have an arcade with over 150 games, plus alcohol, plus stage shows, plus karaoke?

No but we do!  

Ground Kontrol!

Nestled in the heart of downtown, Ground Kontrol is taking on the world.  It's website states,

We preserve and celebrate video gaming’s “golden age” by operating over 100 classic video games and 40.5 pinball machines, feature a full-service bar serving from noon until late (usually 2AM), host DJs, comedy shows, high score competitions, game tournaments, and Rock Band karaoke, and are available for public and private event rentals.

Trust me, my kids never had all that at their nickle arcades. They never could get cool t-shirts, either. 

I think the neatest part, you know, apart from just about everything else there, is the bathrooms. Cool cool cool. I can hear Ms Pac-Man wanka-wanka-wanka-ing all the way through the rooms. It don't get no better dan dat!

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Ground Kontrol is temporarily closed. But when it opens again, come join me for a fun Modern but Retro Arcade night.  

And that's one of the ways we are Keeping Portland Weird.

And so it goes

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Welcome to Another World

Jasper and GG
When I was a little girl, I learned how to lay so quietly among adults that they would think I was asleep. They would talk openly and freely as adults rather than as adults talk when children were present.  I wasn't being sneaky or evil or trying to get some gossip, I just loved listening to adult conversations. I was a very shy little girl--one aunt didn't know I could talk until she walked past my sister's and my bedroom and I was talking to my dolls. I was maybe three. So, I really enjoyed listening to their uncensored conversations.  

I think this desire to be somehow a part of other's worlds is why I love books. I love the way I can find other worlds by getting lost in words and phrases. I can listen in on people's conversations. And it's way better than eavesdropping because I am invited into these discussions. 

As a child we always had books around. When I started first grade, the Bookmobile would come around to the school every other week or maybe it was once a month, but it was on a specific day. Teachers would take their students out to the traveling library and we could select three books. Then Mom would come pick us up--a special treat--so she could check out some books for herself. 

My grandmother Nanny lived in Ontario, California--the next city over. Ontario had the largest most beautiful old library. Brick and wood and a pillar of the community. Oh it was a grand old building. The children's books were in the basement. Heaven. Those large windows and that wonderful scent of old books.  By the way, that scent has been reproduced in candles! I kid you not. A study was conducted in 2009 to look into the smell of old books. Matija Strlic, the lead scientist behind that study, described the smell of an old book:

A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much a part of the book as its contents. (

Yes, books have always been an important part of my life. They have always been a part of my children's lives and my daughter-in-law's life, as they have been an important part of my grandchild's. 

My grandboy had a whole slew of books at his house and at ours. Many he had outgrown; so, when there was a book drive to help less fortunate kids get books, he and I went through all these books to donate to the drive. 

When I first explained to him that many many children didn't have any books, he didn't understand. He just shook his head with the thought of, "I mean, books were, you know, BOOKS." I went on and explained that many families didn't have extra money that would give them the luxury of buying books. With great incredulousness, he said, "Books cost money?!" With that new understanding, he dove into his bookcase here and at home, giving others two boxes of gently used books. Then we went to the bookstore and I allowed him to buy two books to donate and one for himself. He happily helped me carry his boxes to the donation station. And being pleased with himself, they took a picture of him and his boxes. Dang he was cute.

March is National Reading Month. What made me think of all this today is that I received an email from the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. They are asking for donations so that kids can get the books they need, " that children have a fun way to close the reading gap and help improve their academic success, while also sparking their imagination, exposing them to new worlds, and setting them on a path to a lifetime of learning—a critical way to help break the cycle of poverty."

Author Beverly Cleary
With life in general, and especially during this year of sheltering-in-place, we often get wound up in our own issues and worlds, forgetting something small like a child's book can make a huge difference in someone else's life. With the recent death of children's author, Beverly Cleary, we can remember our own love of children's books, our own love of becoming involved with other children--those next door kids and those other world kids. I urge you to take some time, grab a book, and listen in on those amazing conversations.

And so it goes

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Those Wacky 70s

I was a beach hippie girl in the 60s. And then I accomplished something I always wanted: I became a mother. My adorable two children were my world until the mid-70s when we then became a statistic. I was now a single mother with no working skills. 

I searched for a government program that could help me gain skills, thus income, and found one that helped me become a Special Education aide with Portland Public Schools.

The late-spring of 1975 when my divorce was final. I had met a nice man while I was taking the city bus and we started dating. Well, mostly we hung around my living room during the break he had between his morning shift and afternoon shift while my sons were gone, listening to music and talking. I was a pretty naive young woman--married at 18 with not that much dating during high school, mother at 19, divorced at 25. But even this naive young woman wondered why we never we out to a movie or dinner or something. I suspected he was married...but he said no when I asked.  

He did take me out on a real date a couple of times. The biggest date was when we went to dinner and saw Gorden Lightfoot in concert. I've seen Lightfoot a couple of times since, but this time was very special. My first concert on one of my first dates since I was divorced.

The two of us spent lots of nice time together but interests waned and we started seeing less of one another. My kids were home from school on summer break and I started dating a few others.

Out of the blue I received a phone call from him. He said that he and his wife were back together but they were into swinging. I believe I said, "And?" I mean what did I care? Why was he calling me? I said, "It might be better if you called a priest rather than me if you have a confession to make." He laughed and said that the Swingers in his group were almost always couples but a few trusted singles are invited.  Was I interested?

And life moved on. I would still giggle with my neighbor, Nellie, about how trusted I was. But other than that, I didn't give him much thought. Oh, I'd run into him when I was out and about and we'd chat a bit. We remained that kind of friend--friends that were pleased to see one another but had no interest beyond that--for quite a while.

Forty years later...I recently looked him up on Facebook out of curiosity. And there he was! Turned out to be a real right wing political guy, angry at people like me. You know, bleeding heart liberals heh heh heh. But I left him a message anyway, asking if he was the same man who worked at a specific place in the mid-70s.  Heard nothing for months. *shrug*

And then today he replied that he was who I had asked about and why did I ask? Seemed to me that he didn't know who I was. So I explained. I said that he was the first man I dated after my divorce in the 70s and I just wanted to thank him for being such a nice transition into a new part of my life. I appreciated his role.

"I'm sorry. You must have me confused with someone else. It happens all the time.*"

"You think maybe there is another person with your name that was working at your place of business in the 70s?"

"No, there is no one else who worked there with the same name."

"Hmmm...we went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert and often listened to his music at my house."

"Look, I was married in the 70s and I haven't been to a concert since Woodstock."

"Hmmm...okay sure whatever."

I really did think I was more memorable than that LOL but I guess when you are a cheater, you have to keep the story of your life simple. *Especially when you often get mistaken for someone else.

Yessiree, those 70s were wacky. Between fading psychedelic rock, punk rock, funk, and disco...between swinging and AIDS and notsofreelove...between the killings at Kent State and Watergate and the Women's Movement and Black Power....  And the changes to the American Way Of Life from the spillover from the 1960s revolution....  Yeppers, way more going on than my first dating experience *wink*

And so it goes

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Adventures of Repairing a Vintage Quilt

My grandmother left me with wonderful memories. She knew what little ones wanted and needed and never held back her love. She made animal pancakes for Sunday breakfast, even though she knew her youngest (me!) would slop syrup on her dress. I frequently walked down to the little church on the corner with a damp-on-one-side washcloth under the top of my dress, keeping the wet washed spot off my skin. She knew that baking pies must include making pie-crust cookies out of the leftover crust. And she knew that little children loved making houses for their dolls, so Ernie made some fences that could be used as walls for the houses and corrals for the livestock.

One of the wonderful things she left me was a beautiful quilt that was made of leftover fabrics from my sister's, cousin's and my prom dresses. Lovely satin fabrics that held our dreams together in those innocent early years of our lives. This gift gave me the start of my love of quilts. I would be heart broken if anything happened to my Gramma Quilt.

So when my friend told me that she had a wonderful soft, comfy quilt that her 97 year old auntie had made for her, I was so happy for her. What a treasure! And then she told me the story of one of their dogs.... She was in a ZOOM meeting when she turned around and saw this naughty pup take a huge bite out of the center of the quilt! Could I repair it? I hoped I could.

Until I saw the quilt, I didn't know what to expect. Had the dog shredded the fabric? Was the bite all the way down to the batting inside? And how on earth was I going to repair this comfy treasured Auntie quilt?

Boy howdy! It was a through-and-through! And I really didn't know how on earth I was going to repair this comfy treasured Auntie quilt! So it sat on a guest chair in it's bag for quite a few weeks until I finally asked around, got some advice, thought about it, and eventually jumped right in.

First thing I did was remove all the damaged blocks and some of the undamaged ones in order to square it out. I had to undo some of the hand-quilting in the process. I was cleaning up the lines, in a sense. 

Then I dug through my fabric scraps, looking for fabrics that were more vintage-looking in colors similar to the original quilt's colors

Before I started sewing, I had to write out the pattern of colors and whites so when I put the rows in the patch together, I would still get those beautiful "Round the World" lines. When it all seemed to work together, I sewed the rows together and set the patch aside. I had more howthehell work to do.

Okay, now how to repair the batting? After checking out the undamaged batting, I realized it was a different type of batting than I used. It was thinner and squishier and probably a higher polyester content than my cotton. I needed to take a trip to the fabric store to test out the batting available. Once the batting was purchased, I put a piece of paper under the doggy-hole and drew the batting hole. This way I could attach the right size of batting to patch up the hole.  I had to trim up the "dog-food" batting, cleaning up the lines.

Cutting the batting to the right size, a size that could overlap the edges, I hand sewed the batting patch onto the batting. 

Once the batting was completed, I could then applique the pieced patch over the doggy door on the front. I needed to applique the patch onto the front because I could not get a good open lip into the remaining edges. What I mean is, I could only get the patch to lay on top of the quilt rather than in between the edges. The applique went together quite easily. Having the correct sized squares (2.5" squares) helped make it an easy part of the project.

Remember that the puppy didn't stop with just the front and batting. That little imp went all the way through. Now I had to deal with the backing. The vintage fabric was a muslin that had beautifully aged to a soft yellowish-white. I tried to find a fabric that looked similar, but the choices were either too yellow or too white. I selected a muslin as close as I could, knowing it would show up against the original backing. Ya takes what ya gots, right? I also figured the new muslin would age as well.

After cleaning up the edges of the backing, I cut the new fabric larger than the doggy door backing, turned it under one fourth of an inch, and pinned it to the backing. I then appliqued the patch to the back.

Well, then I needed to quilt the repaired area. If I knew how to hand-quilt, it would have been a perfect skill to use in this situation. Alas, I have never learned. My cousin only quilts by hand. Her advice to me was that "you are the machine and your hand is head that is holding the needle." It sounded rather like a zen moment. But no, I did not become one with the machine. Instead I clumsily machine quilted it all together in a bit of a heavy-handed way. But it looked pretty good. Yay! 

My friend was happy and I learned a great deal. If you don't turn it over and see the not-yet-aged muslin in the back, you can hardly tell there had been a naughty pup in this beautiful quilt's past.

And so it goes

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Don't Let the Old Woman Out


I recently read an interview with James Brolin. He was the dreamy doctor on Dr. Welby, MD in 1969. He had recently turned 80 and was going strong. He said he looked in the mirror and realized he was older--wrinkles and crinkles and such--but remembered something Clint Eastwood (90) had once said, "Don't let the old man out." And Brolin decided to run with that.

I look in the mirror at age 70 and see the wrinkles and lost lips and crinkly eyes. When COVID hit, the government called my age group "elderly." That label was a shock to me and all in my high school friends! We spent many days on Facebook discussing and disagreeing with that label. My grandmother, when she was in her 80s, was asked over the phone if she was "elderly;" she answered, "Well, I'm not 90 yet."

We know this stuff. We know not to let the old woman out.

Today I had a ZOOM get together with my sister and cousin.  We laughed and laughed for over an hour. We were as young as we will ever be again. Laughing and frolicing. I know that I can't get up off the floor easily. I can't walk well nor fast because of some balance issues. I can't imagine hang gliding nor bungee jumping, like some of my older friends can.  But hey!

I can bake a great pie, make a terrific dinner, enjoy the snow falling around my house (I love snow, as a concept). I can happily sing with good volume, write an essay, make a quilt. I can do stuff that younger women can't because I don't care if I'm seen as silly or what. 'Cause I ain't gunna let the old woman out! While I can, I'm going to laugh and bring others giggles and snorts and be silly and act the fool--no differently than when I was 16 or 32 or 45. I'm going to try to live a happy long life. 

Years ago--when we were in our late 20s--a friend and I, while visiting his grandmother at a nursing home, heard over the loud speaker, " Mabel has escaped again. Please find her and bring her back to her room." We pictured Mabel racing out the open gate in her wheelchair, romping through the gated yards, and gleefully cherishing freedom with the wind flying through her hair. And right then and there, we decided that we were going to be the ones they will need to call for help to bring back. Frolicing through the hallways is always an option. I noticed that the people who smiled and connected with others in the nursing home where my mother lived her final four years of life seemed so much more satisfied with their lives than others. They weren't letting the old person out.  
So let's make a vow. Raise your right hand and repeat after me. "I will continue to play and frolic and laugh and laugh and laugh for as long as I am able."
We will not let the old woman out. 
And so it goes