Walk with Thee

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As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.

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Last Day of Snow

The thaw has begun and today is probably our last day of snow in Portland for a while.  It was an exciting few days – especially spending the night on the floor of my office at the hospital.

Today I wanted to capture the brilliance of the sun shedding its light on our beautiful, snowy Portland landscape.  Snow is rare in Portland – this won’t be something we see for quite some time so I wanted a way to capture it.

One of my BFHAG’s for 2017 is to get better at my video skills.  So why not share my first attempt – that way all video’s after today will seem like an improvement!

I would love ideas, feedback, video topics, whatever you got.  This is all part of my creative journey – not to mention my midlife crisis of buying too many photographic toys – and I deeply appreciate all of you being a part of that journey.

Do you have any big ambitious goals for 2017?

 

 

The True Spirit of Christmas

We have had quite a stretch of wintry weather in Portland over the past week.  When the snow started to fall on Wednesday it started an epic traffic jam throughout the city.

I work at a 523 bed hospital on the west side of the city.  There is a range of hills between the hospital and downtown.  There are limited ways up and over those hills – and Wednesday afternoon’s snowfall combined with everyone desperately trying to get home exactly at 3:00 was too much.

Tales of commutes taking 7-8 hours were common.  Just getting off our campus was taking hours since all the streets surrounding the hospital were jammed.  At one point I went to the parking lot and hospital roads with a big bag of treats to keep these poor souls fed.  I handed out over 200 treats to grateful colleagues.

I was helping with logistics of getting critical clinical staff into work or finding a bed for those who were staying the night.  I witnessed how hard our support teams work to make sure our employees, our guests and our patients are taken care of.  In this blog post I have included pictures of some of those amazing people.

When we realized people couldn’t get home – our kitchen staff went to work cooking up pans and pans of macaroni and cheese.  For guests who couldn’t pay – we gladly gave them a free meal.  We shuttled staff and guests to the nearest transit center so they could get a train home.  Our linen team put together overnight packs with sheets, blankets, towels and toiletry items.

This isn’t my first winter storm event while working at the hospital but it goes down as one of the most memorable and the most heart warming.  The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

Tale of Two Cities – Ice Storm Part 2

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That sweet little snow storm I was alluding to in the last post – turned into the ice storm I was dreading and hit Portland hard.  We started with enough snow to cancel school on Thursday.  And forecasters stated the cold air was going to move out early Friday.  But it didn’t do that… and more precipitation and cold winds created a thick icy coat over everything.  Every tree sagged from the additional weight with devastating results.

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One of many broken trees along NE Alameda, Portland, Oregon

And the city just wouldn’t warm up and two days of carrying that weight is too long for many trees to bear.  

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This tree imploded.

But in my neighborhood just a few miles south – and a few degrees warmer – it was a much different story.  Just good old fashioned Oregon rain.

Its sad to see so many trees go down but that is nature taking its course.  We have had ice storms in this area since the Columbia Basalt Field rose up above the river to create that beautiful gorge. 

Ice storms can be devastating but they sure are beautiful. 

 

Sense of Place – Portland & Snow

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A rare blanket of snow in my neighborhood from January, 2016.

Portland is expecting a snow event in the next 24-48 hours. 

Those two words don’t go together very well.  Its like Pepe LePeu and the Paris cat getting together – not pretty.  It doesn’t happen very often but when it does – the city shuts down.

Even though half of our city is now immigrants from places that regularly get snow – we still manage to fuck it up.  These are people who know how to drive in snow.  I am not saying we Oregonians don’t add an appropriate amount of chaos to the situation – we definitely do.  But somehow all sanity leaves perfectly good drivers when cold weather comes to Portland.

Here is why… Portland is uniquely located at the confluence of two things: 1) the Columbia Gorge which is a perfect conduit for frigid cold air from the inland and 2) the Pacific Ocean.  Moisture meets frigid air doesn’t create fluffy, pretty snow.  It creates ICE!

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A lesson in keeping your garage clean so the car fits!

Snow in Portland is like the brother in law no one likes and who annoys everyone at holiday gatherings.  Thankfully – just like your annoying brother-in-law – snow doesn’t visit us very often.

PS – I take the bus. 

Sense of Place – Astoria, Oregon

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With no destination in mind – but with a firm desire to road trip – I left my last meeting on Friday with only the open road before me.  I had to get home from Dash Point, Washington to Portland.  This is a quarterly trip so I was used to the routine of getting on I-5 south.  Part of me wanted to get home and be a responsible leaf-raking home owner.

For no reason that I can explain, just north of Centralia I veered off the freeway and headed to the coast.  Ironically – the retreat I had been just attending was all about decision making. My head was full of ethical discernments.  This was spontaneous – absolutely no discerning other than seeing a road sign saying “Aberdeen/Raymond” next exit.

Taking all the anticipation out of this road trip tale – I ended up in Astoria, Oregon for 2 days.  Best decision I have made in quite some time – I must have learned something at that retreat.

Some of the highlights:

Early morning photo shooting in Astoria and exploring this wonderful and historic town – founded in 1811!

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Early morning at the Cannery Hotel

Wave watching at Cape Disappointment (not disappointing!!)

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Buoy Beer for dinner

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And finally, there is this little church about 2 miles west of the Astoria Megler bridge on the way to Ilwaco, Washington that I have passed a hundred times.  It’s in the middle of nowhere but is beautiful in its simplicity and isolation.  I have regretted never stopping and learning the story of this church by the sea.  I stopped.

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St. Mary’s Church, McGowan, Washington

History fans (I am one!) should read Peter Stark’s Astoria – recently released in paperback – for a closer look at the early years of Astoria.

Astoria has transformed from river city with an economy and industry (most significantly fish canneries) reliant on the Columbia River – to an artistic corner of Oregon – focused on tourism and the two mainstays of Oregon – beer and coffee.

The Columbia River is still a strong force.  Cargo ships provide entertainment as their huge hulks pass by the waterfront. And the nautical history is never far away – including the Flavel House Museum (George Flavel was the Columbia’s first river pilot back in 1850).  But you are more likely to see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on area menu’s than Columbia River salmon.

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Ode to winter road tripping

img_0960It’s Friday in the Pacific NW and time to hit the road before the holiday rush gets too crazy. Winter travel is the perfect time to enjoy Oregon and Washington.  Less people, big waves at the coast, inland the wind swept trees create a moody landscape,  and everything has the watery glow that reflects our rainy disposition.

Don’t let winter weather keep you home bound.  Grab the coat, bundle up and put your face into the wind and enjoy the precious hours.  Is there any time better than now?