Saturday, January 29, 2011

crocuses number one and two

crocus 2011

Continuing with the first-flowers-of-the-year theme, here are a couple of crocuses. This year we've got crocuses in a pot on the balcony, which is convenient. So it would be a safe bet to assume more crocus photos are in the offing. Hopefully a bit better than these.

crocus 2011

For reference, here are previous crocus photo posts from 2010, 2009, and two posts from 2007. I took some photos in 2008 too but apparently I never posted them here. I did, however, tag them with the date, 2/25/08, which I usually don't bother doing. I don't recall what (if anything) the rationale behind that might have been.

crocus 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

cherry blossom number one

cherry blossom number one (2011)

So it's time for our annual pilgrimage to the corner of NW 19th & Lovejoy, home to a handful of cherry trees that bloom absurdly early year after year. There was exactly one cherry blossom this time (that I noticed), so I'm going to go ahead and declare it the first one of the year.

I mean, it's not even February yet, and I haven't seen any bees flying around, so I'm not sure it makes any logical sense at all to bloom right now. But it's exactly the right time of year for a little act of reckless optimism.

cherry blossom number one (2011)

january fog

january fog

As seen yesterday near Lovejoy Fountain Plaza.

You've undoubtedly seen shots just like this in any number of movies, except here we've got students & office workers instead of ringwraiths or headless horsemen or vampires or Jack the Ripper or whatever. So, not so much in the freaky supernatural drama department here. On the bright side, these photos are costing you absolutely nothing to look at, so compared to the cost of a movie ticket, mega-sized popcorn, 128 oz. Coke, dubious-looking "hot dog", and a tub of Raisinets, it's really quite a good deal.

january fog

january fog

january fog

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mythic mosaic

mythic mosaic

A mosaic, or at least I think it's a mosaic, on the outside of a Waikiki hotel. I neglected to note at the time which hotel it was, and there are more than a few hotels there. It's on the makai side of Kuhio Ave., toward the Diamond Head end of Waikiki. I realize that doesn't narrow it down very much. I'm also not sure what mythological or historical people or events are being depicted here. If you happen to know or you have any plausible ideas, and you happened to stumble across this humble blog for some reason, feel free to post a comment and let me know what's going on here.

Thx. Mgmt.

mythic mosaic

plumeria

plumeria

Couple of quick plumeria snapshots, taken while waiting for our shuttle back to the airport and our flight back to cold rainy Portland...

plumeria

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

yellow hibiscus

yellow hibiscus

Yellow hibiscus flowers in Honolulu. The wet ones are at the zoo, the others are from... somewhere else I don't recall at the moment. If I was taking flower photos here in Portland I'm not sure these would make the cut for this humble blog, due to various framing, depth-of-field, and exposure issues. But these are pretty much all of the ones I've got right now, so here they are. If you're desperate for better hibiscus photos, and you can't seem to find any on the internet for some reason, you could always foot the bill and send me back to Hawaii for another go at it.

yellow hibiscus

Well, except that I'm not in this for cash or freebies. My philosophy is that it's important to have at least one thing in your life that you're passably good at and you won't do for money. Otherwise you become just a creature of economics, and that's no way to live.

So that's the high-minded philosophical reason. The second reason is that I really don't want to know just how little money I'd make if I tried to run this humble blog as a business. I think that would be more than a little depressing. And I don't want to be in a position where I'd do anything different, posting more about X or avoiding talk of Y, to keep readers and advertisers happy.

yellow hibiscus

yellow hibiscus

yellow hibiscus

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chimney Fountain



This post probably counts as overkill. I've got a Flickr slideshow, an embedded Google map, and a Twitvid clip in this post, just to tell you about a small fountain in an obscure spot on the edge of downtown Portland. The Chimney Fountain is, as the name suggests, shaped more or less like an old brick chimney, with water bubbling up from the center and spilling down its sides. It's located next to SW Lincoln St., along the pedestrian-only 2nd Avenue walkway, in the 60's-era South Auditorium urban renewal district.


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It doesn't look particularly special or important if you don't know the backstory behind it. The chimney shape supposedly symbolizes the area before the urban renewal bulldozers arrived, a working class neighborhood of Jewish and Italian immigrants, with small houses, family businesses (including the deli with reputedly the best bagels in town), several synagogues, etc. For more about the old neighborhood, there's a Portland Jewish Review story and a Daily Kos essay you might be interested in. I wish I had a more concrete reference for the fountain-as-historical-marker part. I know I've read that before, but I haven't found a link to share yet. I'll update the post if I can document that, but until then don't cite this notion as a fact in your term paper, or wager large sums of money on it or anything.


The fountain does double symbolic duty, in fact, since it also serves as the "Source Fountain" in the Halprin plan for the area. The idea is that water bubbles up at a little spring here. Then, flowing north, it becomes a rushing mountain stream at Lovejoy Fountain, and finally a majestic waterfall at Keller Fountain. Symbolically, I mean. The water actually recirculates separately at each fountain, but no matter.

The fountain occasionally does triple duty, as a sort of jetted bathtub for the homeless. I'm sure that wasn't a design goal behind the fountain, but it appears to do the job. I didn't actually go and ask for a user review, I mean, if I was taking a bath and minding my own business, and a stranger came up and wanted to interview me, I'd take it rather badly. Wouldn't you?

city reflections

City Reflections

Our occasional tour of art on the Portland Transit Mall continues with "City Reflections", one of the new crop of sculptures that went in along with the recent MAX construction.

So, ok, it's shiny and whimsical and harlequinesque, and it includes a cute dog, and that's all great and everything. But it also looks strangely dated, like something you'd have seen in a trendy housewares store in 1996, on the shelf next to the gargoyles and the chile pepper margarita glasses.

On the the bright side, if you buy it when it already looks dated, it slides over into "retro" that much quicker, and then everyone's bound to love it and see it as a local icon. So there's that. I give it another 6-8 years, 10 tops.

City Reflections

Additional info from across the interwebs:


City Reflections

City Reflections

City Reflections

City Reflections

City Reflections

City Reflections

City Reflections

New Frontier / Las Vegas Plaza

Echelon, Las Vegas


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Just south of the Echelon site, across Desert Inn Road, is another huge vacant lot. This one was once home to the New Frontier casino, which was imploded to make way for a super-sized Vegas edition of New York's famous Plaza Hotel. No, seriously. This seemed like a fabulous idea during the real estate bubble years, but the dream never got off the drawing board. Now, instead of an aging, down-market -- but profitable -- casino, they've got a nice big patch of empty desert. Which reminds me of a certain famous poem.

Echelon, Las Vegas

Echelon, Las Vegas

Echelon, Las Vegas

Vermont Street Park Blocks

Vermont Street Park Blocks


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Today's fun expedition takes us to Southwest Portland, in the area around SW 45th Avenue & Vermont Street. Given that intro you might assume we're headed to Gabriel Park, but we're not. Gabriel Park isn't quite obscure enough for this humble blog, I think. And besides, I saw quite enough of the place back in high school, mumble-mumble years ago, since our home cross country course was located there. Come to think of it, I haven't been back since. I doubt that nostalgia alone can trigger psychosomatic shin splints, but why risk it?

Vermont Street Park Blocks

In any case, thanks to a very obscure document from the city, I ran across a much more obscure spot in the vicinity of Gabriel Park: A three block span of park blocks -- or more accurately, a very long and skinny single park block, about three blocks long -- runs along the north side of Vermont St. between SW Idaho Drive and 50th Avenue. Instead of separating east and westbound traffic, the south side has busy through traffic going both directions, and the north side is basically a residential side street, and both sides are named Vermont St. Maybe that was the plan all along. Or maybe Vermont Street was supposed to have a grassy center strip with trees the whole way, and the plan didn't pan out for some reason, and this is the only remnant of that design. So far I haven't found any explanation anywhere on the interwebs. Or for that matter any mention of the place at all other than that one list in the city archives.

Vermont Street Park Blocks

PortlandMaps says it's not a tax lot, which usually means the city's transporation bureau owns the place, similar to most of the East Park Blocks. That's not always the same thing as who mows the grass and trims the trees. Which again, I've been unable to find any info at all about.

Vermont Street Park Blocks

Vermont Street Park Blocks

Vermont Street Park Blocks

Vermont Street Park Blocks