Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goodbye to Summer 2010

Rarely do I like to procrastinate, so, actually I waived goodbye to summer one day early. This was for the practical reason that we needed to be in Portland today, wash our clothes, and repack our bags for the next trip beginning tomorrow, the first of the fall season. Also, I can justify cutting off a day of summer because my first post for 2010 was the day before summer started.

This summer will go down in my history as the summer of visitors. Last summer I travelled to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Southern California to visit people dear to me. This summer, loved ones came this way.

My leisure and nonwork goals have been interrupted, increasingly, by the demands of a law practice that is growing, almost against my will. I am facing a slew of fights beginning next week. As a hired gun, that's what I do. I will put my free-lance sheriff hat on when we return from the wedding Sunday.

On that last morning in Oxford, Maryland, the innkeeper left a basket of breakfast food and coffee at our door, which led to a totally relaxing morning on the balcony overlooking the gracious, tree-shaded lawn out to the water. Weather remained perfect. So, with the traditional Nixonian waive, we concluded Summer 2010, and is officially on hiatus.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just in Time, A Vacation Day.

We managed to squeeze in a vacation day during our vacation.

Who knew that Oxford, Maryland even existed, much less that it has existed and has a ferry since 1683? Who knew it was the home of Robert Morris, the financier of the American Revolution. Unfortunately for the local economy, the Revolution was successful, and the bustling port went into a long slumber after defeating its biggest trading partner, the British. But Oxford arose again after the Civil War, when the railroad came to town. It was during those boom years, in 1875, when someone built the first part of what is now the Sandaway Bed and Breakfast.

We were able to snag a room with a screened-in porch overlooking the water, considered part of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Thanks to another period of economic slumber after the 1970s, the town remains a collection of very quaint old houses, many of which are on the water. Better still, because several homes are now Inns, the small community supports an excellent restaurant at the old Pope Tavern.

Oxford was not on our itinerary, but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. Our room provided a most serene, beautiful setting. I hope to keep the view in mind as I prepare to dive into the conflict of new lawsuits over the next couple of weeks.

Escape from the District.

We blew out of DC on Sunday and drove to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home on land settled by his great grandfather in the 1650s. Later, we drove to Annapolis, MD, where Geo. resigned as the nation's general in what was then the Nation's capitol (1783-4). It's a quaint, touristy town.

Blessings of Liberty

Saturday in DC found us at the Smithsonian's American History Museum. That's the one that displays Julia Child's kitchen as well as First Lady Gowns. The curators are very good at taking an item and using it to illustrate larger things. For example, it has a 200 year old house. Then, through the stories of some of the families who lived in the house, it covers our history from 1700s through 1960s, when it acquired the house, piece by piece.

The subway provides us freedom to get out of the downtown. We made it to the Eastern Market area and then on to Alexandria. Both interesting and mildly fun excursions.

Article II, Executive Branch

The Executive Branch dominated friday in DC. We visited the memorials on the National Mall, including the Lincolon Memorial. The Department of Interior has hosted an indian trading post since about 1938, so we stopped by the store and enjoyed the crafty art. A good tip for those who visit DC is that the Dept of Interior has a cafeteria for its workers, which is open to the public once inside.

The highlight of Friday, and perhaps of all the time in DC, was walking around the Tidal Basin in the moonlight. We started at the FDR memorial, from which one can see the nearby Jefferson Memorial all lit up and reflecting in the water. Also, the Washington and Linclon memorials are beacons after dark.

It's somewhat comforting to see the memorials and be reminded of the difficulties we, as a country, have overcome over time. Too often, I worry about all of the garbage that spews forth from political commentators and others who have no responsibility for actually making things work. They tend to pick at the scabs and open wounds of the day, get their ratings or speaking fees, then move on to the next paycheck. Unfortunately, too many people in Congress who actually have responsibility do not exercise it with earnest goodwill, substituting spin for substance. When I see that and when I know that so many Americans are too dumb to discern falacies behind the rhetoric, I worry. Lincoln reminds us, however, that "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Article I, Legislative Branch

I met Jeff Merkley when I was Chair of the Multnomah Democrats and he was working to become the leader of the Oregon House of Representatives. I like Jeff a lot. He worked very hard then and works very hard now. He is very smart and public-spirited. Now that he is our United States Senator, I was very pleased to see him in his office on Thursday Morning.

Then, Allyson and I visited the Capitol and Library of Congress along the the Botanical Guardens and other sights. Seeing Jeff was one of the reasons I wanted to visit DC. I wish all of our "leaders" actually tried to do what is right for people.

A Full Day in DC

Our first full day in DC was a full day indeed. We started at the beginning, at the national archives, to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and other foundational documents. Later, it was on to the Museums of Natural History, The American Indian, Air and Space, and a quick cut through the art museum. The good thing about all of these museums is that they are FREE. So, even if you only spend 5 minutes in them, that's okay. You do not have to commit to see everything.

After cleaning up, we enjoyed small plates of middle eastern foods at Zaytina before going to the Kennedy Center for the play Shear Madness. .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What were they thinking?

Just off the National Mall is a monument to the Boy Scouts of America. It's not on the maps, but we sat down near it yesterday evening, our first in DC. When we approached, it looked kinda like a big oval hot tub, with four jets going. Marching toward the water feature is a naked man, a woman, and a boy in a scout uniform.

The sad irony of a statue of a naked man offering guidance to a boy was not lost on this Portlander, in light of the verdict in Portland finding the Boy Scouts responsible for the sexual abuse of a boy to the tune of $1.4 million for damages plus another $18+ million to punish the organization.

Even without knowledge of pedophilia, what were the artist and organization thinking when they created this statute?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Post-Hip Nightlife

Friday, Ken & Ann treated me to dinner at Kincaid’s Restaurant, the new restaurant in a stately old location. Dinner was delicious, and it’s good to sit down for conversation across a table. The place was empty, and we wandered over to the rooftop bar / restaurant above Macy’s.

“Departures” is the name of that place. The ultra modern d├ęcor made it look like some kind of space ship. Outdoors on a clear night, the music was bumpin’, and the young folks strolled in to check each other out. A very hip place, which made me feel post-hip.

Saturday afternoon brought clear, blue skies and 70-some degrees. I drove out to the Newberg, Oregon wine country to pick up a case of Gamay Noir, which we reserved during Pat’s visit. In the evening, I joined some of the people from my coffee group for a breast cancer fundraiser at a downtown sports bar. It was a very unhip place where I fit right in.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Java Town

In the late 1970s, Minneapolis developed a reputation for good bands. Prince and Husker Du came out of that milieu. I recall $1.25 vodka tonics at First Avenue, which went down so easy that it did not take long to have a pyramid of empty glasses on the table. Today, I spent $3.00 on a about an ounce of coffee. Although, I’ll bet the coffee had more drug value than even 3 of those skimpy vodka tonics.

Portland is developing a reputation for competing against the giants with Lilliputians. Food carts and individual restaurants instead of the Olive Garden. 100 microbreweries blossomed in Portland to provide options to Coors or Budweiser. Today, I began exploring the microroasters.

Like the brew-pubs, some microroasters roast the beans on the premises where they sell coffee and roasted beans. I started at Water Avenue Coffee. It looked like a typical coffee house, except it had the roasting operation behind the wall behind the counter. The El Salvador coffee beans, roasted, brewed and poured was very good. I think it lit up a part of my brain that coffee typically misses. Or maybe I was imagining things.

An hour later, I tried Heart Coffee and Roasting, pictured above. The establishment definitely looked slicker and played hip music. The roaster is front and center, not in the back. I tried an espresso made from some African bean. It looked like drippings from Jiffy Lube and was about a viscous. It was very bitter, yet had some sweetness to it, also. Honestly, I would not have wanted more than that one shot.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hike in Mt. Adams Wilderness

To qualify as wilderness, an area must be at least 5,000 acres and roadless (among other things.) So, in the Gifford Pinchot Forest, Road 23 skirts along the edge of the Mt. Adams Wilderness Area, which comprises over 47,000 acres on the east side of the 12,326 foot high mountain. We drove around to Tahk Lahk Lake, then on to the trail head for the Divide Camp trail, which leads hikers into the wilderness. We worked our way up through forest and meadows full of lupine in bloom. Then, we hiked past fields of rocks where torrents of water at some time in the past had washed out the all of the dirt and vegetation. Some gray glacial water still flows in other areas.

Our goal was the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail, pictured above. But then we went a little farther and found a glorious overlook with a 180 degree view that included Mt. Baker.

Gorgeous day. Temp in the 50s, but it felt warmer with sun and exertion. More photos on flikr:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jump Start on the Labor Day Weekend

I broke out of Portland Thursday morning for the Labor Day weekend. That does not mean, of course, that I escaped from phone calls from current clients and wanna be clients. But, when Mary tells them I’m out for the weekend, then, if I answer or return a message, they are pleased.

It’s interesting what we notice when we slow down. I’ve ridden my bike around the valley dozens of times. Thursday, I noticed the above, nondescript barn as something that makes the ride what it is. There are many more dramatic views: Mt Adams, Mt Hood, the two rivers, the cows, and more picturesque barns. For some reason, the above barn got me to stop and snap a photo. One day, this valley will probably be carved up into lots and homes. The “planning commission” just rubber stamps whatever the landowner dares to ask for. (Change the comprehensive plan to rezone for you? Sure thing, friend.) What a different ride it would be if it were not a rickety barn here, a barn-full-of-cows there, massive irrigation systems, and outlaw (unpermitted) irrigation ditches there.

In the evening, I just sat by the marsh for about 45 minutes as the sun set. A solitary Spotted Sandpiper, teals, and grebes kept my attention, as well as the changing light. At times, there was the mountain, a dark space in between, and reflection in Trout Lake Creek. For a time, the light struck the trees in between.

Friday morning, I joined the other 3 dozen door-busters for was the big rummage sale to benefit the local scholarship fund. Who could pass up a bunny with big eyes and a smile asking for a new home? Friday evening, Allyson & I reunited.