July 2009

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As I sit at the kitchen table going over the program for Worldcon 67 (Anticipation 2009), the sky darkens. And then really darkens. Rain pours so heavily it drowns out the sound of the waterfall. Flowers are subjugated into down-facing humiliation, and I marvel that they have evolved to stand such a beating.

Thunder roars.

Amber, who has been napping at the edge of the rug, looks up in alarm. As the thunder strikes again, he scrambles, terrified, to his feet.

Amber the cat

Amber, the world's silliest, most doglike cat

I try to soothe him. “It’s okay, Kitty. It’s all right.”

But Amber is not to be soothed. He knows that whatever this is, is horrible. He slinks from the room, keeping as low to the floor as he can. Later, I find him hiding on a chair pushed far under the dining room table. He won’t let me touch him.

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I’m an aisle-seat kind of a traveler. Even if I never get up during the whole flight, I feel much more secure about having the right and ability to do so without disturbing a couple of perfect strangers (who are probably either eating, sleeping, using their computers, or intensely involved in watching the movie).

But on the flight from Portland to Chicago, United Airlines surreptitiously canceled my aisle seat and wouldn’t give it back. I was lucky to get a window seat near the back of the plane. Hey, it could have been worse. It could have been a middle seat. And the window seat came with compensations– views of…

Mt. St. Helens


Mt. St. Helens seen from the air

Mt. Hood


Mt. Hood seen from the air

The Chicago River


The Chicago River seen from the air

Downtown Chicago

downtown Chicago seen from the air

Downtown Chicago seen from the air

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It doesn’t happen very often that Dan and I dine in a restaurant so extraordinary that we are put in mind of Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. (For those of you who don’t already know about Milliways, the best short description of it can probably be found here; scroll down to ‘M’.)

But tonight, we were very, very close.

The name of the restaurant is Tidal Raves, in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Okay, so we didn’t deposit a penny a million billion years ago to pay for the meal, but even with wine and a martini, dinner for two came to less than a hundred dollars. The service was outstanding. The food (fresh wild coho salmon with dungeoness crab risotto; wild Pacific snapper with smoked salmon potato cake; summer vegetables; salad with berries and shrimp) was superb. And the view…

Well, that’s what makes Milliways Milliways, isn’t it?

We sat at a corner table by the windows and looked out over the Pacific ocean as the evening descended.


And there were grey whales breaching in the waters just outside. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

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Today I walked (click here to see the map).

I walked from my hotel downtown (at SW 6th Ave. and SW Taylor St.) up to Stumptown Coffee (at SW 3rd Ave. and SW Pine St., almost in Chinatown) for breakfast-on-the-go. Great coffee and a blueberry-raspberry scone.

Then I walked across the Morrison Bridge. This in itself was a major accomplishment. Despite Portland’s aggressive and successful campaign to become carbon neutral, the Morrison Bridge is hostile to pedestrians. We will not discuss here how difficult it is for a pedestrian to find any pedestrian access to the bridge. Instead, I include here an actual unretouched photo of the attractive pedestrian environment on the bridge. This is how the engineers think the pedestrians will safely pass by the entry ramp. No one does this. We’d rather be killed in the traffic.

pedestrian ramp crossing on the Morrison Bridge in Portland, OR

pedestrian ramp crossing on the Morrison Bridge in Portland, OR

I crossed the manufacturing/ industrial area on the east side of the bridge and reached the northwest corner of Ladd’s Addition at SE Hawthorne Blvd.. and SE 12th Ave. And entered an enchanted world. Why don’t more people know about this? The entire area is an historic district, and many of the houses in it also have historic markers. Most of the houses are of the Arts-and-Crafts style.

house-in-ladds-addition-1 house-in-ladds-addition-2 house-in-ladds-addition-3 house-in-ladds-addition-4

Streets are lined with trees, often elms. Except for the major diagonals, they are quite narrow.


Sidewalks, on the other hand, are generously wide, as is the green space between the sidewalk and the street. This green space is often used for gardening. Sometimes even vegetable gardening. The raised-bed vegetable gardens look surprisingly good. I want to do this at home.

sidewalk-in-ladds-addition sidewalk-in-ladds-addition-2 vegetable-gardening-in-the-grass-strip-in-ladds-addition

At the center of the Addition is a park, confusingly entitled in google maps “Ladd’s Circle Square Park”. In each of the cardinal directions, midway between the park and the edge of the Addition is a diamond-shaped rose garden.


Moving on to Hawthorne Boulevard, I found a delightful cafe just on the far (east) corner of Ladd’s Addition. In their flower-filled garden patio, I ate roasted-beet-arugula salad and chilled cucumber soup.


Other interesting sights on Hawthorne included a hardware store surrounded by gardens, a tempting bakery, a blade store full of samurai swords (sorry, no picture), and–yes!–a grass roof!

hardware-store-surrounded-by-gardens-on-hawthorne-blvd bakery-on-hawthorne grass-roof-on-hawthorne

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