Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick trip to Seattle


July 25 & 26, 2009

“Seattle reminds me of Portland, only bigger,” said Allyson. “Seattle reminds me of Chicago, only smaller,” said Lorie. Yet, all are drawn to the features that give Seattle its character: Pike Place Market and views of the Space Needle and ferry boats plying the sound.

I like the neighborhoods, and we took a mini-tour of Queen Anne before heading home.

We tend to like those things that are both unique but, at the same time, comfortably familiar.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Notes on Portland & Lake Oswego


One tends to talk about the pros and cons of your home town(s) when enjoying visitors. Here’s what’s being said.

Portland Downtown: Don’t go there. Panhandlers, empty storefronts, it’s kind of depressing.

Portland Restaurants: Excellent and ever changing. Go to the neighborhoods.

South Waterfront: Ghost town. Slashing prices.

Pear District: Good, if you like busy.

Mayor Adams and City Government: It’s not that he was grooming a 17-year-old for sex after age 18; it’s that they waste so much time and money on projects that appear cool to teenagers while streets go unpaved, storefronts go empty, and scary panhandlers take control. Quit playing to the crowd and political special interests and take care of the basics!

Lake Oswego: Well run. Pleasant. Maybe too “Stepford.” Businesses that don’t want to pay Portland and Multnomah County taxes (and cannot stomach Vancouver) move to Kruse Way.


Copyright 2009 by JM all rights reserved

Friday, July 24, 2009

More time with family!


When a married couple's families are mostly from out of state and region, it's a treat to get together. And for me, a visit from out-of-region sister gets me together with local loved ones, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Memorial service serves to remind.

July 19, 2009

Memorial services for those who pass are reminder services for the living.

The woman honored today made her mark by encouraging others – giving them courage. Husband, children, grandchildren, friends, acquaintances cherished their time with her. For people like this woman, if they could live without suffering, we would want them to live forever. Even at 77, those who knew her say she left humanity too soon, not so much for her, but for those who loved her and had the honor, pleasure and benefit of her acquaintance.

Only children and morons can attend a memorial service without examining their own lives and values. There are many paths to a life well-lived. Regardless of religion or not, or profession or not, an essential element of a life well-lived is giving to others, working for others, and caring for others.

The moving and selfless testimony of the decedant’s friend and clergy urged all to follow her example and reach out to people today and every day. The purpose is not so that you will avoid remorse if someone passes, but so that they can benefit from your love.

Trout Lake Arts Festival


July 18, 2009

The annual Trout Lake Festival of the Arts always draws some very good artists. Each year, we end up buying something, even if we did not intend to. The only thing that saved us this year is that we rode bikes to the fair, and A’ did not bring money.

Each year, we enjoy getting on the farm, listening to the pretty music, and admiring the skill of some of the people who call this general area their home.

Photos at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157621563708465/show/

In the evening, we stopped by the Nights in White Salmon, which is billed as an “Art and Wine Fusion.” The idea is that in each of the towns few art galleries or work shops, a winemaker would offer samples. We ate at the new, good, brewpub in town and walked around, running into Alexis from Domain Pouillion.

Counting Crows & Augustana: Great show & great place.


July 17, 2009

“One bottle limit per person,” said the sign where they sold wine to patrons of the Counting Crows / Augustana concert at Maryhill Winery.

It’s a great place for a concert, especially this night, when the weather stayed warm until the end. Maryhill Winery is a green oasis on the dry, steep banks of the Columbia River about 100 miles east of Portland, Oregon. A few miles outside of the designated scenic area, where the trees stop growing, the white wind generating turbines stretch along the golden hilltops for miles.

The stage looks out onto a lush, green, grassy area, with white reserved seats below and terraced open areas higher up, where people brought their own lawn chairs and blankets. Those of us with reserved seats could walk right up to the stage, close enough to read the faces of the band members.

Lead singer Adam Duritz was self-assured. Having slept away from his home 174 of past 193 nights, he, the bands, and the crew put on a professional, solid show. His confidence and personality shined, from a knowing twinkle signaling he was about to do something to get a cheer, to what looked like sincere feelings when he sang his heartfelt songs.

Augustana’s lead singer, Dan Layas looked like he either forgot to take his medication or took something supplemental. Despite his peculiar ticks, he sounded pretty good and his timing was accurate throughout. Instead of a warm up band followed by the headliner, Counting Crows started off, then tansitioned with Augustana, so they could have a break, then came back.

The sign broadcast, “Traveling Circus and Medicine Show.” Duritz said the show is to help cures what ails you. While explaining the theme of the Circus, he gave permission to take pictures and film.

Photos are posted at: http://jeffallyson.shutterfly.com/42

One of the videos is at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrbZHDu11Ic

Overall, the crowd was pleasant, good-looking, and mostly older. I noticed very few people in their twenties. Toward the end of the concert, we began to wonder how some of those, who could hardly walk, would negotiate the dark roads home on this moonless night. Perhaps sobriety checkpoints could help close the budget gaps for the Washington State Police.

We left with the first wave, missing any encores and drunk drivers. By 12:20 a.m., I was in the hot tub in Trout Lake, admiring a spectularly starry night.

The hit lyrics wonder, “maybe this year - - will be better - - than the last.” So far, so true.

© 2009 by JM, all rights reserved

Friday, July 17, 2009

'Tis the season for music

July 15, 2009

Music is everywhere in the summer. Free evening concerts at parks, noon concerts downtown, summer tours by big-name acts, and bands at fairs and rodeos fill the calendar.

But just as the cloudy Pacific Northwest winters enhances our appreciation of glorious sunny summer days, so-so bands help us appreciate how difficult it is to create good music.

This date, I attended a free concert at Dawson Park. The rhythm guitar player was great. The drummer and base slapped together a good groove, but the vocals and the electronics (e.g. feedback) were a bit off. There was no denying the band’s enthusiasm, and it was a pretty evening. Many people showed up for an enjoyable night out of the house and picnics on the lawn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another day of beauty


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The 11-mile loop around Trout Lake is flat and easy for bicyclers but a challenge for photographers. What to shoot? A bucolic working farm? One of six dozen great views of two striking mountains, Hood and Adams? One river racing over rocks between tree-lined banks or the other flowing through mini-canyons? Maybe a llama or a kestrel? How about an historic house or barn?

Good food, good people, and a happy dog.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Clouds promised rain to the towering firs in the Wind River Valley. A few miles east, where firs mix with pines in the White Salmon River Valley, sun and clouds played peek-a-boo. About ten miles further east, atop the Klickitat River Valley, scrub oaks, golden grass, sun, two young winemakers and their contented dog greeted us for lunch with smiles, a dry Gew├╝rztraminer, and a wagging tail.

Alexis and Juliet own and operate Domaine Poullion on their 20 acres of wine country outside of Lyle, Washington. Alexis studied soil science and interned with winemakers in France’s Rhone Valley. His mom used a psychic (also used by the FBI) to help make their match, and it is a joy to see a young couple pursue their dream. Yes, there are hundreds of wineries in Oregon and Washington. Not all of them produce very good wine. I like Domaine Poullion wine, and I joined their wine club. Our friends, Tim and Michelle, who possess more sophisticated palettes than I, sincerely complimented the wine and collected a case of it.

This was the second of three wine lunches offered to wine club members. Relaxed and casual was the atmosphere: unfolded chairs, outside, with good cheese and home-cooked food paired with their wines. Home-cooked means Juliet and Alexis cooked it; I’m not referring to homey comfort foods, such hot dogs on the grill. A creative chilled soup and a quinoa-corn salad were among the courses. It’s a smart way for them to build word-of-mouth, have fun (if the guests are fun), and make a few dollars. Alexis and Juliet each headed a table of eight, so it was an intimate gathering where we could learn about them, their wine, and how they actually make it.

The lunch provided a good opportunity to get together with our friends from the Wind River and a great cap to a weekend I’d love to bottle and cellar. We all returned to the park & ride by the Hood River Bridge, where I said good bye to my bride and my friends, and we went our three separate ways for the week ahead.

© 2009 by JM, all rights reserved.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hike and Fun with Friends


July 11, 2009

Visitors and neighbors make a vacation home worthwhile. Kim & John joined us Friday & Saturday nights. We hiked the Shorthorn trail in the Gifford Pinchot Forest. Stunning bear grass delighted us. Acres of it in bloom made portions of the trail seem otherworldly, with its lamplight appearance.

The trail was well-maintained and free of bugs, making it a good workout for Kim and me going up gradually for about 3 miles and then down for three miles.

More hike photos here:

http://jeffallyson.shutterfly.com/

After naps, Kim and A’ prepared a wonderful meal, followed by games and laughs.

John & Kim have two young children. They are smart to have their date nights, or, in this case, adult weekends to maintain their relationship as husband & wife, and not just as dad and mom. It’s healthful for the parents, and, I opine, healthful for the kids to know that, although loved dearly, they are not the center of the universe.

Just Reading: a rare luxury


Trout Lake,
Friday, July 10, 2009

How many Robins have I seen? Thousands. How many have I seen eating from a bird feeder? Zero. That thought occurred to me as a Stellar’s Jays took full advantage of three feeding stations in the yard. Hummingbirds found their feeder, too. Juncos, towhees, and chickadees are not above living off the dole. Then, a proud American Robin appeared above the feeder, with a big bug in its mouth, before flying off.

I have not moved from the back deck. Blue sky, warm breezes, and wildflowers in the yard delight the senses. I actually picked up a book and am reading.

It is the 6th anniversary of our marriage. This weekend, we look forward to sharing our home with Kim and John.

Right now, after a frenetic yesterday, I am content to continue sitting on the deck for another 4 or 5 hours, expecting A’ to arrive in and then Kim and John, giving me company and an excuse to open a bottle of beer, wine or rum.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Respect your Elders

I’ve reached the age where I have been studying the law, considering the law, and reading the law longer than some of my opposing counsel have been reading, period. I took my first law class in 1977. I started law school in 1980. Perhaps that’s why I find it irksome when an opposing lawyer confidently and smugly takes a stand that I am even more confident is wrong. The dispute means a waste of my time to resolve it. More irksome is if the lawyer makes some flip comment that I interpret as disrespect, then I have a tendency to waste even more time to teach the person to respect his or her elders.

Yesterday, a judge helped me slap down the opposing counsel who was sure he was right and I was wrong about what the Rules permit. Before I asked the court for help, I tried to reason with the attorney. Apparently, my comment that I used be on the committee that writes and revised the rules carried no weight; he did what he wanted, anyway.

The day before, I had to call a judge on the same attorney so that I could conduct a deposition as the rules permit.

I don’t know what will happen with the actual lawsuit. Many things can determine the outcome. The actual facts often – and should – be more important than the work of the lawyers. However, a lazy and ineffective lawyer can make the facts less valuable while a diligent lawyer can increase the value of the case. I will make sure that my client is not out-lawyered. The more an opposing lawyer challenges me, personally, the harder I tend work.

So the lesson to young lawyers is to respect your elders and / or let sleeping dogs lie.

7-9-2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jazmin

July 5, 2009

This afternoon, we got our first look at Jazmin, Michelle & Shanon’s baby who, at 7+ pounds is double her birth weight. It amazes me that a 3 pound, 4 ounce baby has all or the miniature organs needed to survive and thrive.

It was fun to play with Jazmin’s cute half-sister, Tara, who joined us for dinner on the deck in Portland.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157620917193179/

July 4th Hike and Wine

Three years ago, I hiked the Monte Cristo trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It was a terrific hike, with abundant wild flowers, open top-of-the-world views, and shaded forested portions. Among my goals for hip surgery was to again hike the trail. On Independence Day, we did. Photos follow:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157621053396000/

When we returned home to Trout Lake, we found a camper van with an empty bike rack in our driveway. Mark & Elizabeth made an unannounced visit and were out bicycling 33 miles around the valley in the heat. It was a great surprise. After lunch, we visited three wineries out in the Lyle, Washington area.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157620916629129/

As for fireworks, I sat in the hot tub and watched what neighbors shot up in the air.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Favorite Combo: good people, good food, & good drink

July 3, 2009

It’s hard to top good friends and good food.

A’ found recipes in Cooking Light magazine as we drove east through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area toward Hood River. We did our shopping and crossed the river toward our vacation home in Trout Lake, Washington.

There really is no lake, but years ago town leaders thought Trout Lake sounded better than Guler, Washington, so they changed the name. As the snow melts in Spring, it looks like a lake, so it was not completely false advertising. We like the serene beauty of the farmland under massive Mt. Adams. The surrounding Gifford Pinchot National Forest provides great hiking in the summer and cross country skiing when it snows.

Last night, A’ prepared whole trout, berry cobbler, a terrific salad with cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, and arugula (and who knows what else). Our neighbors, Randi and Dale joined us with tasty garlic bread ready for the oven. All of it turned out better than the best restaurants.

We always enjoy their company, and we visited for several hours before calling it a night. Yes, observing an artistic masterwork in a museum is interesting and sometimes inspiring. But few things in life can top spending a night with good friends, good food and wine.

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Portland Waterfront Blues Festival 2009

Portland Waterfront Blues Festival

I returned to my Portland home about midnight on 6/30, so July 1 was a catch-up day for laundry, mail, bills, etc.

July 2 was mostly a work day. Among my favorite activities as a lawyer is preparing to take the deposition of a corporate witness adverse to my client. I figure it takes about two or three hours of preparation for each hour of deposition. I enjoyed about six hours of reviewing documents, lining up questions, and thinking: How do I corner a witness into telling the truth? How can I get past their prepared lines? Where can I get some ammunition to help my client? How can I shake the confidence of the other attorney by developing areas of inquiry that he or she never even thought of?

Then it was time for the Blues.

Portland’s Blues Festival is a big deal. A fundraiser and food-raiser for the needy, it has grown tremendously. 20 years ago, or so, when I went on an afternoon, the grassy “bowl” sloping down to the Willamette River was relatively empty, so one could easily drag a chair from the stage on one side to the stage on the other. The format is to alternate bands, so the music never stops - hour after hour, day after day after day after day. The festival now runs four days and nights.

There are the two main stages in the Bowl plus two other stages, so there are times when three bands blast out the music at the same time. Even the first afternoon and evening – on a workday - gets crowded. I set up between the stages. Two chairs, some water, food, and a couple of books made it seem like a backyard hangout with good live music and many thousands of friends and neighbors.

The afternoon was hot and dry, but beautiful in the shady spot. An armada of partiers floated in the adjacent river, drinking, sunning, hula hooping, etc. Some people are smart enough to camp on their boats for several days to soak in the sun and atmosphere.

Photos of boats and stage right follow:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157620869861223/

Allyson walked from work to join me, which was a great way to unwind from a work day: music, people, and food. And here are a couple notes on 2009 technology: (1) A’ reserved a hotel room in Europe with her iphone as we sat there in the open air, and (2) I took a photo of A’ and E-mailed it to her dad with a “hello” and a short music clip.

Keb Mo headlined today’s event, filling in for an ailing Etta James. YouTube has video his music and our 360° view:

http://www.youtube.com/user/merrick792#play/all/uploads-all/0/icNqWf3NNNI

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chicago is family & fun.

The main attraction in Chicagoland is not the Art Institute or the Field Museum. It is not da White Sox vs. the Cubs, or architectural wonders, or Michigan Avenue. For me, visiting Chicagoland means enjoying the love and the current snapshot-happenings of my sister, Pat, Kevin, Kent, Lauren & Cara. Ann was in town, too, making the group lots of fun.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed tremendously the other aspects of being in town, but I would have visited even if they lived in the emptiest place in the world. That we could take advantage of some highlights from a great city was merely berries on some sort of magnificent semi-fredo.

Our tickets at the Sox – Cubs rubber match was just 4 or 5 rows behind Cubs dugout, close enough to hear Giovany Soto greet Sox fans with heartfelt “F*** off.” It was late in the game, the Cubs played awfully, and Sox fans enjoyed seeing his pain. Giovany could not have provided more inspiration to Sox fans or made them feel better than to hear verbal confirmation that their rival had been beaten up emotionally as well as on the scoreboard. As the Sox crowd poured down the stadium ramps, they sang with joy.

Game Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157620578074111/

Video: Last Pitch, fireworks & song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm-VMQ2ODN4

Ten months ago, A’ pushed me in a wheel chair around the Art Institute of Chicago. This year, I walked around on my own two feet, able to see eye-to-eye with Vincent. Pat, Lorie, Ann and I then walked through Millenium Park to marvel at the kid’s fountain and “The Bean.” For people with the eye of photographers, such as Pat and Ann, it was a special treat to see how the large mirror “jelly bean” creates interesting views of people, skylines, and sky in odd juxapositions, distorted enough to catch one’s eyes.

On to Kent’s new apartment one block from the Trump Tower. 20-something and living downtown. . . . sounds like fun, despite lacking income as he continues his schooling.

Kevin and Lauren are leading the hyperactive lives of young professionals working two careers separately as they build a third together and manage to keep even busier with friends & family.

Pat’s eye-popping photos from his travels around the world inspire, as does his patience with the relative chaos that seems to swirl around their home.

And Lorie remains Lorie, thank God.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39474118@N06/sets/72157620678057853/