The Return of The Turkey of St. Johns


This time of year always has me thinking about turkey. When I think about it I’m trying to figure out who’s cooking it, (never me) and where I’m going to eat it. There’s usually some consideration about recreating the turkey sandwich Thanksgiving from many years ago – our go-to Plan B. It really wasn’t that bad. Lately any turkey thoughts include the Turkey of St. Johns. Last fall, I searched for evidence of a turkey kept in a pen in the front yard of a home in that area. It’s something I remember seeing a long time ago, but years later there was no trace of the avian apparition. I received a tip after posting about it on facebook last year directing me to a street different from the one in my memory.  After last Thanksgiving, I rode my bike up and down N. Polk Street to no avail. There weren’t even any neighbors outside to accost with ramblings of pet turkey sightings.


When I feel like giving up on my quest for the St. Johns’ Turkey, I push to go back to the back part of the deep recesses of my memory bank. After waiting in line for an hour, I am led by a doughy bank employee with a tiny key. There, in the back of a box, dark despite the greenish flourescent lighting, is a faint memory that’s getting fuzzy and faded with age. It’s one of an ephemeral, strangely fluffy turkey with plumage that haunts me to this day. Happening upon that giant, lumbering bird gobbling it up on someone’s front yard creeped me out.  As much of an impression as that made, all evidence including anyone else’s remembrance has vanished. I’m here to tell you, I saw the Turkey of St. Johns. It was real! Someday I’m going to find that bird.

I believe in the Turkey of St. Johns.  The memory year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow, I will ride faster, open up my eyes wider . . . and then one fine morning— So I search on, stumbling against the current, pushed back ceaselessly into the past.



Hiatus Notice


The Portland Orbit will be on hiatus due to a biking accident. This blogger will return to action when he regains use of the left side of his upper body.

The Parade Chase: A St. Johns Parade Extravaganza

For years I worked weekends and could never get to the St. Johns parade. I had to find out what I had been missing. My plan was to take in a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds. It was a safe bet I’d be hearing squeals and giggles of children along with brass instruments, revved up engines, whistles and drum blasts. I expected to see plenty of colors and blurry motion. By the time I found a place to park, I ended up popping up in what I thought was the middle of the parade. I began a chase for the front. The sidewalks were clear but when I arrived at Ivy Island, the old gateway to downtown, I felt wedged in. I was across from the guns and ammo store and had caught up with as much of the parade as I was going to catch so I stayed put. Standing against a chainlink fence next to a construction site, I realized the battle for Ivy Island had been lost. The Rose City Model T Club rolled by. Old cars make the best parade subject matter!

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Early on the parade was clogged with politicians. It made sense with the election three days away. My inner cynicism kicked in. My brain flooded with snide thoughts. A waving Dan Saltzman reminded me of how politicians never really look at you. Ted Wheeler seemed in need of a stylist which is probably unnecessary for Portland politics. Steve Novick takes his dog everywhere. I realized it was going to be too brazen and probably unethical to trade a Sarah Iannarone vote for a piece of bubble gum. Jules Bailey impressed me. He wasn’t riding in a convertible and his entourage walked the talk carrying signs with messages concerning air quality.


After seeing so many old cars and a couple of dune buggies, I got excited about seeing of all things—a boat! The Multnomah Sheriff’s department dragged along a river patrol boat. My transportation topper was Teeter Roofing and their gang of ATV riders, something you don’t often see at parades.


More middle school bands marched by. It didn’t seem to matter what song they played. They all had a warm, warped sound, like vinyl. It occurred to me that transportation was the major theme of this parade as Miss Teen Rodeo Oregon brought her posse of assistant teen queens by on horseback. Soon after the Clark Country Saddle Club followed. It was great to see how young ladies in sparkly country outfits and cowboy hats are another parade must-have. I realized I was missing the parade watching it through a camera phone so I headed back through the onlookers to another spot. The rain made me realize I needed water proof paper and floats!

As the Roaring King Car Club weaved back and forth along the route I realized there was something cool about a car club. The cars looked like modified ex-police cars with a basic design but I’m guessing supped up engines.

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The Mexican dancers twirled around in colorful dresses that cut through the gray skies. I have no idea why someone was making comments about caterpillars as they swirled past.


Then just when I needed to see unicycles the most—they appeared!

marching bands

Another middle school band passed playing Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train.” Tall people at parades began to get on my nerves. Floats? I was getting desperate for floats when the Power Pep Band rolled by in what looked like a ship on fire.


Ronald McDonald was working the crowd behind this float. He was too chatty. There is nothing worse than a talking clown. Although his make-up was impeccable and his hair poofed and cherry red, he creeped me out in the kind of way I’d feel if I looked at a hamburger patty too long. Behind me I heard a mother say, “Stop whining about it,” which brought me back to the parade and the crowd. I wanted a picture of Ronald. I still hadn’t forgotten the year he was made Grand Marshal. My camera malfunctioned when I hit a button that turned the screen white. By the time I figured it out Ronald McDonald was too far down the street. As I considered whether to chase him down, it occurred to me that he gets all the publicity he needs from having been on TV all the time in the 70’s.


With Ronald out of the picture, I spotted a woman in full clown regalia in the crowd. My need for a clown photo fix drew me to her. I caught up to this clown, passed her and turned to get a photo. She seemed happy to comply or was this happiness due to the perma-grin painted on her face? She suggested a selfie which I attempted but due to being selfie impaired I failed. Ugh! No selfie with the lady clown. I began to wonder if the parade would ever end, my only real complaint was about the rainy weather. I spotted Ellen Rosenblum parading by. She was running for Oregon Attorney General. It’s fun to find a politician with a sense of humor. I heard Ellen say, “Vote now, vote yesterday.” Due to Oregon’s ballot by mail system people were able to vote early either by mailing ballots or dropping them off. Little Leaguers walked by and another middle school band played Michael Jackson complete with dancers doing Thriller moves.

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Then I watched a tall tuxedo clad man stroll in the street while a woman wearing a tiara waved from a Jeep. These were representatives from the Skyliners Tall Club. Tall people were now in the parade instead of standing around watching it and blocking other people’s views. The rest of the parade was a blur due to the rain on my glasses.


A car held out a sign with the word JOY scrawled on it. I found out later that this was the theme of the parade. This part of the proceedings felt spontaneous with a car driving around with someone holding a sign out the window. The enthusiastic, low budgetness of it all was joyful.

Holy Trilogy
Pirates announced themselves with obnoxious gun fire. But at that point I was witnessing what felt like a holy gathering, a culmination of a very St. Johns-centric trilogy of Pirates, Wrestlers and floats full of mermaids. Realizing I could catch the rest of the parade on the way to my car I followed the remaining participants back through to the staging area.

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Sharon Nasset was riding shotgun in a mini van—not even in a convertible. She seemed keep the lowest profile of the bunch.

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A biker gang, well bicyclists on bikes with long handle bars known as Belligerent, were rounding out the parade. A man with a bull horn rode his bike in a circle announcing that the parade committee was “saving the best for last.” I rounded the corner and ran out of parade. I now had the choice of going to the car or meeting back up with the lady clown who was clamoring away from the parade. I’d had almost enough excitement for one day so headed home.

An Orbit Obit: Interstate Lanes

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On April 30, 2015 I blogged about Interstate Lanes. The piece was posted exactly a year before the bowling alley’s last day of operation. At that time, I had heard rumors that alley operations would cease, but I was resistant to considering it. My denial was strong enough to let me enjoy one more year of the bowling alley. Over the course of that year, I didn’t step foot into the place until the last day of business, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t happy to see it each time I drove or rode by. I’ve also appreciated knowing the people of North Portland, who really needed a bowling alley, had one close by.

interstate entrance

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Huddled for warmth and bowling!

Needing one last taste of bowling atmosphere I headed over to Interstate Lanes in the afternoon of the last day of operation. I needed to see the red neon outlining the windows and the other decor left over from a bygone era. Whether it’s ’70’s, ’80’s or 90’s it’s hard to tell but bowling chic is comforting. The multicolored, multiple bowling, bowlers mural was magical. A kind of magic that’s hard to let go. That was part of the beauty of the bowling alley, the ability to escape into a bowling world and shutting other world out. There’s the clatter of falling pins, blaring classic rock and the mechanical sounds of the machines cleaning up pins and spitting back bowling balls. I think Interstate Lanes was clued into my bowling world concept. On one side of the alley, the interior decorations resembled giant bowling balls rolling over cityscapes–a bowling world takeover? The intergalactic mural on the outside of the building spoke to my world domination through bowling theory.

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I bombed into the alley on that last day with my camera phone blazing trying to get the right shot of the congenial note on the door reading:

Interstate Lanes will close
at midnight tonight for the last time.
We want to thank all of
our loyal customers for supporting
Interstate Lanes for so many years.

The worker at the counter gave me the hairy eyeball. I was self-conscious but I’ve since come to realize that people who blaze into bowling alleys with phone cameras held high are annoying. I wanted one last peek at the the bowling gear vending machine. I stood in front of it only to find it empty. Bowling gear purchased from a machine like tape and powder and maybe ball cleaning supplies has always amazed me. Next to the machine was a glass case with bowling pins on sale for five bucks. I had no cash on me. One side of the alley was empty but the other had a few bowlers who seemed to be enjoying themselves. I watched a girl bowl. Seeing her knock down nine out of ten pins felt satisfying. I looked at the ceiling. It looked stained and worn out. It hit me. After that evening’s cosmic bowling session the alley would lock the doors and never open them again.

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A short history of my visits to Interstate Lanes and my experience with bowling in general reveal a mild obsession. I was once in a bowling league. There’s nothing like the pressure of trying to pick up a spare with one pin left and a match on the line. As you can imagine, I whiffed and it’s haunted me to this day. The PE credit I picked for a college bowling course offered little improvement to my mechanics. We grew up with a grandmother who watched duckpin bowling on Saturdays. Years later we had to break the news that the bowling coverage was being cancelled. Working in a group home I had opportunities to watch bowling and I appreciated the talents of the guy who throws the ball down the lane without using the finger holes. I made two visits to Interstate Lanes: once, just after we moved out here and again when a subsection of our book group decided to meet there. With only three members present, a haphazard discussion of Being There broke out during our quest for strikes.

I’m going to miss that place. It seems obvious now why the paint was peeling outside. There was no reason to spruce up what’s going to be torn down. An apartment building will never have the charm or character that this bowling alley had and yes I can accept the economics of it all but I don’t like the idea of people having to hoof it over to Big Al’s or out to Gresham to go bowling. Maybe Grand Central is not so bad. It seems strange that a bowling alley closing puts a hole in my heart, but I know I’d feel the same about a movie theater shutting down or other forms of old school entertainment. What gets me sad is that sooner than later I’ll drive up Interstate to see a hole in the ground. Bulldozers or wrecking balls will have quietly moved in and not so quietly done their dirty work. A year ago I was writing about bowling alone, which seems like a strange and impossible concept to me, but now I’m writing about not bowling at all, at least not in North Portland.

Oregon Decal Obsession Part 2


I’m back to my Oregon Decal obsession and until I find out otherwise, I’m convinced it all started with the green heart in the state boundary design. I’m working on tracking down the creator of this image which really shouldn’t be too hard but my self-imposed deadline is approaching and I’m still planning on one more part to this series before I exorcise this obsession from my consciousness. The last blog post was titled Oregon Decal Spawn Part 1, or some such title, which in hindsight seems terrible so I reworked the title based on what these decals have become to me—something of an obsession. While maybe a casual obsession, they’re images I’m focused on collecting. A snapshot is satisfying enough, the need to possess some tangible remnant of these decals hasn’t over taken me. I have only seen a few of these decals for sale which means tracking them down would have proven impossible.

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While on my bike my eyes scan the bumpers of parked cars. The state outline usually jumps out at me. After considering whether the design is something I’ve seen before I either stop and grab a picture or keep pedaling. I’m surprised by the number and variety of designs that represent all manner of Portland and Oregon related subjects. I want to think that as Portland-centric as we are, a Portland border would be a far more specific and authentic a representation, in some cases, of this sticker concept. There’s only one problem. The Portland city limits prove to be a design flaw mess. No one would recognize it and it would never work as a decal outline.


Portland: Not a decal inspiring border.

Last summer I ran into Rob Campbell who is among other things a T-shirt designer. He showed me a T-shirt design which incorporated the use of the Oregon border. This got me blabbing about my Oregon decal obsession. I asked him why he thought so many people use the state to frame designs. He was succinct when he explained that it’s “effective.” And that makes sense. As I pointed out before, people immediately know the image involves regionalism, whatever the symbol happens to be, sometimes it’s not clear, but it’s stuff in this state or even something being promoted specific to Portland. Regardless, it makes for an eye-catching decoration for a car bumper or anywhere else it gets stuck.

So let’s get to it.



Love Portland City Limits

Why not love Portland? Again if you slapped these words on top of the city limits map it wouldn’t look right so the use of the state border. Everyone knows there’s a city named Portland in Oregon.


It’s greek to me, except it’s not Greek, it’s Latin. It’s the Latin translation of the state motto which when translated back into English is: “She flies with her own wings.” Who knew you could get a  lesson in history and Latin from a sticker.



Tie-dye could be symbolic of almost anything but seems specific to Dead Head/hippie culture. The top design is bold and colorful and has heart so I’m not going to trip out on it. The other one has a peace sign which is also a nice touch. If I’m any kind of decal critic, well these messages of peace and love are mellowing me out. Tie-dye is a bit of a psychedelic cliché but I have an appreciation for colorful design


This one is saying all kinds of things about Portland. It references the White Stag sign, mentions old town and frames it with an eye catching golden state border. The quality of the photo does it no justice but this vehicle owner is loving Portland.



These two seem like homemade designs. The stripes, rays of sun maybe, made me think of   Arizona. The other sticker looks like a basic art project with the tiny blue heart sticker marking Portland’s location on the pink state map.




Every Portland sports team does the Oregon decal with gusto. Thorns, PSU Vikings, and Rip City!


Any kind of advertising receives a boast with a state of Oregon decal design.


Northside shoes were founded in Portland. The  little heart is a nice touch and for whatever reason the state is depicted as dripping, or is it oozing?


Even Pabst ran like a stallion/unicorn with an Oregon design for their Pabst music festival.


And yeah, Portland and Oregon have a few tea drinkers.


Adorned plays off the Keep Portland Weird campaign requesting that people “Keep Oregon adorned.”


Well, no one can exactly advertise snow but it’s another mix of borrowing an advertising slogan and mixing it with a state decal.


Even Bernie Sanders gets in on the act with an Oregon inspired reminder to vote for him.



Do we have bees and bartenders or martini makers in this state? According to these decals, we do!


This one doesn’t make me groan. I could not resist that lame pun. It’s seems like a statement about farming or it insinuates that the owner of the car is a native Oregonian. It could well be there as a show of support for local farming or hauling around vegetables.

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Other decals offer identifiers by way of symbols. We run half marathons, love animals, depending on the foot print, crabbing and ride bikes. It can all be spoken in decal.

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This one speaks for itself. It has one of the best uses of the Oregon border since it serves as a reminder of the original inhabitants of these parts.

Gotta run to look over more car bumpers. The obsession will rear it’s ugly head again in this blog soon enough.

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Note to Mrs. Yuchmow:  I feel the need to justify my use of the word “and” to start a sentence. I know you taught Will Simmons from the Pittsburgh Orbit that this usually isn’t a good thing to do but in the case of my usage it needed to happen.



The Ghost Bike of Killingsworth


It gave me pause, the white bike, a familiar object, alone and riderless, chained to a street sign. I noticed it last spring while cruising up and down Killingsworth Street on my way to substitute teaching jobs. The nickname “ghost bike” came to mind. It seemed to only represent tragedy, an accident, death. It implied that  something awful had happened at that spot with the bike serving as a reminder.


The Internet was full of links to information and photos. Still I hung back from researching. I wasn’t ready to dig in.


Ghost Bike Google

When we moved to Portland we had an avid bike riding neighbor.  I’m more of a commuter type, but this guy went on long bike rides around town. He mentioned having had a couple of intense bike accidents. I began to expect the same fate. Sooner or later I feared I’d suffer a serious crash that would involve scrapes or broken limbs. I’ve been lucky so far. I’ve suffered only two minor falls. Once wherI got tangled up with the Max tracks and fell over. Another was a low speed, goofball flip over my handle bars that earned me a compliment from a nearby biker but caused no damage. I’ve had my share of wild riding when I’m late for work but I try to be safe.


Wikipedia talks about the bikes being set up as roadside memorials where cyclists have been killed or injured. The Willamette Week, in an article from October of 2005, mentioned that the ghost bike project in Portland was started by Forrest Burris to honor his brother Christopher who had been killed on Martin Luther King Blvd. Of course anything and all things bike related are well covered by  I admit this was about as much research as I was willing to do. I don’t want to associate a name  and details with the ghost bike on Killingsworth. It makes that much more intense.

A bike conscious place like Portland provides bike lanes and bike corridors that create the means for a alternative transportation system. I’m hoping people driving in cars and riding on bikes take time to consider the ghost bike. It’s a worthy reminder if it helps people slow down and be a tiny bit safer.


While looking online for ghost bike information,  I was struck by a link that led to a list of people who had been killed on bikes in Portland. It was a stark reminder of the risks of cycling. It had me considering the need to read and obey stop signs and be careful about pulling into and riding with traffic. I hope it makes me more aware of bike riders when I’m driving. The ghost bike is a bit like that “there but for the grace of God go I,” saying. I have to remind myself to steer clear of becoming a roadside memorial. Looking at these pictures I took last spring has the ghost bike doing what it’s supposed to do. It haunts me.

See also a Portland Orbit video piece on this subject:

A Month Without Coffee

It was decided. The new year became the time to change the eating habits in our household. It’s like the character, Jules Winnfield, played by Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction, says, “my girlfriend’s a vegetarian which pretty much makes me a vegetarian.” I took it as an opportunity to experience something I’d wondered about for a while which was whether or not I could stop drinking coffee for any amount of time. I decided a month was the right duration to use for this challenge. 


My coffee habit had gone into hyper drive over the last couple of years. A rough estimate had me up to five cups a day, but it was the constant focus about when I was going to have my next cup, the expense, the always having to buy it, make it, the packing the thermos for work, the extra cup or two when I should have laid off, the jitters and occasional insomnia when I thought I could drink coffee at night or late in the afternoon that made it all seem like too much.

The first realization about what I was doing was that my timing was wrong. Winter is the best time to wake up with something warm to drink. I picked the wrong time to stop drinking coffee. Going cold turkey presented physical challenges. By Sunday evening of the day I stopped, I felt my body heating up, followed by a massive headache. That evening my skin was flushed. I threw up and couldn’t get off the floor for an hour. All signs pointed to caffeine withdrawal. The next morning my headache was gone and I felt fine enough despite the empty hole in my morning ritual. My self-imposed coffee stoppage had begun.

Things started to feel whatever I thought normal should be. I know I was spacey and sluggish, but I thought I was managing. I got jealous when I saw people walking down the street with coffee. There were cravings. It was tough to see a guy standing outside of Figure Plant drinking from a mug, not that I had thought about coffee jacking him, that much. My coffee obsession leveled off. Weekend afternoons were tough when all I could think about was going out for coffee but I had a point to prove. One afternoon my wife smelled the fumes of a cup of decaf coffee I’d made. Ronna explained that what I was really detoxing from was uric acid. What? I was thinking, there’s acid in coffee?

There’s a mystique about coffee and coffee shops that I’ve tried to make a part of my Portland experience. When we first moved here there was time to hang out. I remember writing to friends back east about how I was sitting around in the coffee shop drinking hair bender coffee. Living in Portland at a time when I had no job gave me a chance to hang out. It felt like freedom. A couple was talking to their realtor at the old North Star coffee shop and the mystique grew. In Portland people do business over a cup of coffee. Now the coffee shop lifestyle seems to equal time and money. Something that’s in short supply. Still there’s nothing like sitting in an old building, sipping from a mug, taking a breather, soaking in the ambiance. Usually there’s no way to tell who the unpublished novelists are with everyone pecking away on laptops. There usually aren’t frantic scribblers around and I mostly end up reading old newspapers during coffee shop visits.  


There’s great coffee places around and I’m sure with a bit of searching or through good old proximity a comfortable fit can be made for anyone  who needs their own space. Arbor Lodge Coffee has been a nice place to visit. I appreciate the bottomless cup at Cup which replaced Northstar. No Wave Coffee, off of Lombard, plays crazy good music, but you might expect that from the name. The Bison Coffee House was an oasis on rainy days when I found myself subbing in the Cully neighborhood and Posies adds a touch of class and character while filling a huge void in downtown Kenton and it’s only a block away.

In the end I found I could survive a month without coffee. I’ve since gotten back on the wagon. The light at the end of the tunnel kept me going. I was counting the days. It was a sad, but due to poor planning, my fast ended at a 7/11 one morning before work. Somedays any coffee is coffee enough for me. The coffee obsession has roared to life, but I also noticed that it’s got my brain and body moving again acting like an internal lubricant. The Tin Man didn’t need oil, just a pot of coffee. I survived thirty coffeeless days and realized that in the event of an earthquake, supply chain disruption, coffee bean blight or a change in my daily routine, I’ll at least know I can live without coffee, not well, but I made it a month and I’ve lived to tell about it.

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A Night For Frogs

I saved a frog’s life but I didn’t have time to think about it. As soon as I delivered it to a white bucket to await transport to the wetlands, I was off in search of another frog hopping on wet pavement towards a certain demise that awaited if she found her way to Highway 30.

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Proper frog handling technique.

An initial orientation meeting at the Linnton Community Center about volunteering to rescue frogs was an eye opener. I was introduced to the plight of the Northern red-legged frogs who need to get to the wetlands from the hills past Linnton, specifically in the area of Harborton Road. The barrier is four lanes of treacherous highway. Years ago after discovering that frogs were unable to reach the wetlands safely, a group organized volunteer crews to help save them. They now meet seven days a week in the evening during the migration season which generally runs from December to March. The conditions for frog migration have to be just right. Frogs head to the wetlands for mating and egg laying on rainy nights when the temperature is above 45 degrees. My wife, Ronna and I signed on to volunteer for the Friday night shift. We waited seven weeks until conditions were right. On a rainy night in February we headed to Harborton Road which runs up a hill off the highway on the outskirts of Portland.

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A red-legged frog in the spotlight.

That night I spent a couple of hours getting rained on and scanning the asphalt with a head lamp looking for frogs. Proper rain gear kept me reasonably dry as I spotted these amphibians out of the corner of my eye moving towards the highway. Others resembled stones when they sat motionless. This was usually the smaller Chorus frogs who got in on the free rides to the wetlands by having to cross the same road around the same times as the red-legged frogs.

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Awaiting wetlands transfer.

Catching frogs wasn’t too hard. I figured out how to scoop them up and quickly became a kind of biologist short stop. It was a matter of getting in front of them, getting a hand under their heads and grabbing them as they hopped into my hands. Other frogs would freeze if they were blinded by the light which made them easy pickings. The tricky part was holding on to them while transferring them to the white transport buckets. They had a powerful kick and would get squirmy.

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Busting out of the bucket into the wetlands.

Volunteers installed silt fencing running up the road along the guard rails to keep frogs from heading toward the highway. Frogs spilled into the base of Harborton road, a wider section at the bottom of the hill. There they had open access to Highway 30. Through rain splashed glasses a few frogs got close to having to contend with screaming automobiles barreling down 30, but they never got far enough where they couldn’t be rescued. One frog slipped by me and ended up well into the road. I resigned myself to sheer fate hoping nothing would happen until the road was clear enough and I could get to this imperiled frog. I faced an existential-zen conundrum of sorts, considering whether a frog’s life was more valuable than that of a human. I didn’t consider this for long realizing that an attempted frog rescue during oncoming traffic would have killed us both. Besides it’s not like frog volunteers are given training like the secret soldiers of Benghazi. I held my breath and waited for the coast to clear. The intensity ramped up when a  pick up truck drove down Harborton Road and was about to turn into the lane where the now immobile frog sat. As soon as the truck turned traffic died down and I dashed into the road to get the frog who emerged from the misadventure unscathed.

Frog Release

Frog Release.  (Photo by David Craig)

After egg laying and mating is finished in the wetlands, frogs need support getting back to their homes in the hills. Silt fencing helps corral them in that area too allowing volunteers to find and deliver them for release back into the hills. At the end of the night 48 red-legged frogs, along with hundreds of Chorus frogs, gained a new lease on life, avoiding vehicular calamity. Having no understanding of the behind the scenes efforts involving the many volunteers, the frogs seemed content to accept their  bucket ride and be chauffeured across the highway to Marina Way and their wetlands drop off spot. We felt a sense of having made a difference in the lives of these frogs that night. Feeling a kinship in our rain-soaked sogginess, we headed home knowing we had done our part to rescue a few frogs who will in turn create more frogs that are bound to need saving in the future.

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The outskirts.

For more information see

All photos, except where noted by Ronna Craig.

Next Post: A Month Without Coffee

Year in Review

There’s nothing like the end of the year to inspire a blogger to throw in the towel. It’s been a tough year, a challenging one too, but it also has me more optimistic about what I can do next year. A few projects that hung over my head much of the year were completed and a couple of others are so close that I may be soon done with those as well. The cycle can start up next year with new projects to start, abandon, complete etc… and of course this blog will occupy my time. Looking back over the year’s posts, I see I’ve documented some of what I experienced and it strikes me that my orbit seems a bit constricted now, revolving around the rain and a small, grungy slice of life that I tried to paint an image of in a Kerouac parody in my now infamous Turkey post. The backlog of subject matter that I plan to bring to life next year includes the Portland shoe art scene, my continued decal/sticker obsession and it looks like I’ll finally be able to write about art cars. I will also will be looking to utilize the skills of one of the world’s greatest copy editors I happen to live with. I might get a handle on my typo epidemic. With all that going on, I can only leave you with a couple of updates:

Perry’s Back!

Perry Me

It was probably 2014 when I wrote about the loss of the Perry Mason show on regular TV. For 48 years he held down a time slot in Portland until our local Fox affiliate axed him. You can now catch Perry Mason on ME TV. It’s on channel 2.3. I’m not sure exactly when TV channels started including a decimal point but it’s as good a reason as any to trade your cable cable for a set of rabbit ears. Digital TV offers great reception and great picture quality. Our local stations have sub channels that feature networks of nostalgia blasting old TV shows and movies you can catch while channel surfing. Nothing breaks the monotony of a lazy Sunday better than hearing the phrase “psychological thriller starting!” If your schedule coordinates you can watch Perry at 9am or 11:30pm on weekdays.


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Hold on…about to…confess.

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Crap! I can’t believe Perry got me to say that.

Another World for Fabric World

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When I first addressed the sad, demise of Fabric World, I was happy, at least some readers were attracted to that post. Fabric World remains a lost world to me, but I got a sense of the place from people who had shopped there and responded to my writing. I snapped a photo late one afternoon when I noticed rumbles of activity going on with the old store front. We’re talking serious rumbles–what exactly is happening when half the walls need to be chopped out? A recent trip down Lombard revealed enlarged posters on the wooden barriers exclaiming “New Re-Development” so it’s clear to see that Fabric World has left the building. It’s hard to know what type of business will fit that space. It’s difficult, too, sometimes, to stop the car, park it and investigate what the giant signs are squawking about to clue us all in but in the middle of Christmas mania I did just that. See what you make of this sign.


More will be revealed in the new year but it amazed me that 30 seconds into my annual Christmas trip to Powell’s Bookstore I witnessed two major infractions. The driver of a pick up truck at a stop light opened his door and dumped some fast food trash into the middle of the street. Then two fancy/expensive cars failed to use their turn signals. It reminded me that pollution makes both Indians and bloggers cry. It also leads me to believe I’ll be crankier than ever in the next year. The folks below sure have a way of calming me down and making me happy so I’ll leave with their image, along with some sweet peppermints.

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Happy Holidays to each and everyone of you! See you on the other side in 2016.

“Hey Lady, Up Yours”


On day two of what had been called Stormpocalypse (a four-day forecast of heavy rain) by some around Portland, at least on Facebook, I started my day with enough optimism to forgo using my rain pants for my bike commute. The all night rain had dissipated, the morning was clear and the rain pants are bulky and unfashionable. I didn’t think to pack them for the ride home.

I watched the afternoon rain and knew I was in for a wet ride home. There was nothing I could do but grin and bear it. So I trudged onward with heavy, soaked pants. I kept my spirits up listening to the podcast Death, Sex and Money. I come back to this one and usually binge on multiple episodes. People talk about their lives, failures, trials and tribulations with a refreshing honesty. I thought I had problems, how about a woman who grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. She went on to have a 40 year career on Sesame Street. It wasn’t exactly light subject matter to have swirling in my head but it did end up involving a kid’s show. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything from my work day that had me down. I was only dealing with the miserable commute. I was focused on getting home and drying off.

In my rain-stained, fogged up glasses, podcast blaring in my head, my pants wetter than if I wore them swimming, I had to navigate the bike/walking path going through Kenton Park. A woman seemed to be walking in the middle of the path. I was moving toward her and trying to figure out how I was going to get around her. As sad and soggy as I was slowing down was not a consideration. From what I could see, she seemed to be thinking I was going to run her over. She gave me a look of disgust and indignant rage. I could only think such a minor inconvenience wouldn’t have been an issue if she followed common sense rules for traffic patterns which at the very least favor walking/driving/biking on one side of the road or even the other. She might have side-stepped me or made a decision to move out of my way but neither of us could navigate this bike/pedestrian dance. I didn’t break my stride either, but the look she gave me annoyed me to my deepest core as I swerved around her.

As I rode on, I realized something needed to be said. Returning from my day working at a school, I realized there was one more lesson to teach. I thought quick and wondered if I needed to chase her down and get in her face or yell at her from where I had stopped my bike which was now about 100 yards away. I wanted her to consider that when it’s raining and nasty outside rain-soaked bike commuters need a break. I decided on my second choice and found myself yelling, “Hey lady, up yours!”

Pathetic. I know. I’m not even sure it felt good, especially since the lady didn’t turn around or appear to hear me. My improvised insult may have been the direct result of listening to a podcast about Sonia Manzano from Sesame Street which might have inspired me to keep it clean. Besides who really needs to be cussing in the park. I felt stupid, angry, aggressive, but at least gave myself credit for trying. A day of work followed by a watery slog home and a feeling that I received a lack of compassion from a fellow citizen created a need for me to let off some steam that could not even be heard in a downpour.

Sometimes you have to try to make your point even when it’s pointless.


Uncredited image jacked from the internet.