Observed

Losing it

July 24, 2008

As I pedaled south on the bike trail, I heard him behind me, louder than the bleat of children at a nearby amusement park. His shouted curses, accompanied by the occasional clanking of cans, nearly made me swerve off the blacktop.

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Gnome finds a friend

July 24, 2008

The Gnome’s lonely vigil, which I commented on last week, isn’t so lonely anymore. A little buddy has joined him in watching the world pass by in Northeast Portland’s Irvington neighborhood.

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Self-service airline

July 23, 2008

A Southwest Airlines pilot goes the self-service route at Boise Airport for my flight home to Portland on Tuesday. Whatever it takes for the clearest possible view works for me.

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More than music

July 22, 2008

Being there is everything. Not just attending small venue concerts to hear musicians I’m enthralled with but making sure I’m pressed next to the stage. I want to see what’s written on their faces, to witness the up-close interplay with their band mates, to judge how they play off the audience. I want to imagine […]

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It’s oddly comforting to walk along my street and see the Gnome. He’s always there, sheltered inside the hollowed-out base of a tree. He’s been there longer than the five years I’ve been walking past. His expression never changes, even when vandals spray-painted him black and broke his arm, or passersby deposited flowers at his […]

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More than one thousand bicyclists crowd beneath the Broadway Bridge, waiting for the annual Night Ride to start. Some sway to the sound of fifteen young people pounding away on drums and cymbals. When the din ends, bike bells ring in applause. Red and white bike lights are flashing, mine included. Bewildered Amtrak passengers leaving […]

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Bridges to nowhere

July 10, 2008

Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will? That, Thornton Wilder said, was the underlying question of his acclaimed 1927 novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The book explores the lives of five people who fall to their deaths when a rope bridge in Peru collapses. I don’t think […]

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Where did all the creeks go? That’s what I’m wondering, thanks to a Google terrain map of my Northeast Portland neighborhood. Zoomed in as close as I can get, I see unlabeled squiggly lines in several parts of Irvington that typically indicate water’s fickle flow. One crosses my street a few houses to the south. […]

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Fury on the Fourth

July 5, 2008

In Portland, Fourth of July fireworks typically begin a day or two early and linger for a few days. I’m talking about unofficial fireworks, the kind I nearly maimed myself with as a kid. This evening on my front steps, I heard a firecracker explode up the street. At the sound, an Alfred Hitchcock flock […]

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Imagine a world in which our doctors treat us the way veterinarians treat our pets. This occurs to me as I stare at a three-by-two-inch can, the temporary resting place of Bok Choy Tong. The can is painted with red, orange, and blue flowers, not unlike our garden where her remains will be spread. Before […]

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Scene, unseen

July 1, 2008

He’s back. The old man with caved-in cheeks, driving a faded blue car. I saw him today. Third time in a week, always morning. This time will he see me starring from my window across the street? Just sits there, eyes down, motor running. Drives off after a minute or two. I hadn’t seen him […]

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Poodle hip, not standard

June 30, 2008

Portland is dog crazy. Walk a dog through neighborhoods like mine (Irvington) and you’ll get more oohs and ahs from passersby than if pushing a cute baby in a stroller. The city reportedly has the country’s highest per capita of canines. Like many of their owners, some Portland dogs display individuality via bodily adornments. Take […]

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Of wisp and ashes

June 26, 2008

“Shawn is my name,” he says, holding out a small gnarled hand. Shawn shows no hint that he minds me, a stranger, flagging him down as he zips past my house on his electric cart. He answers personal questions with no hesitation, no suspicion. I ask to photograph him and the dog perched at his […]

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