Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall in Portland

It seemed like we turned from summer to fall on the 23rd, amazingly on schedule with the calendar.  It happened overnight...I went to bed in the summer and woke up in the fall.  That is how it felt.

It's fall now but it's still glorious outside.  Wonderful weather for walking and sitting on the porch.  It's cool enough at night to need blankets but still have the window open and it's a bit chilly in the morning.

Late afternoon sun in the back yard

the front porch

I need to get out on that porch now.

History and the kitchen

I love details about women's history.... how women worked and lived in the past.  I've been watching a tv  series on YouTube called the Victorian Kitchen.  It's about working in a kitchen on a big estate in that era (sort of like Downton Abby but with none of the intrigue and more focus on the cooking).  In the show, they actually prepare different sorts of meals in a real Victorian kitchen.

Victorian Kitchen episodes

It stars a woman who started life as a scullery maid in such a kitchen and became a cook.  As she cooks, she shares stories from that time in her life.  She was actually working during a post-Victorian time, but apparently kitchen life on big estates stayed the same well past the actual Victorian period.  For example, they continued to cook using wood fires even though gas cook stoves existed.  Their was a distrust of cooking with gas; they thought it would somehow taint the food.  And it was the servants who did all that hard labor anyway so there wasn't much motivation to make life easier for them.

There is another show I like even better about cooking in England during World War II, with rationing and such.  Did you know that one of the first foods that became unavailable in England was the onion?  Imagine how difficult it would be to cook without onions.

Unfortunately only a few episodes of that show are available.  Here is a link for the Wartime Kitchen episodes.

Wartime Kitchen and Garden

We've been watching another show about England in World War II called Foyle's War and there is an episode where someone gets really excited about an onion, which I didn't understand until I learned that onions were mostly unavailable then.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

When I'm Sixty-Four

I am going to be sixty-four soon.  Soon enough that I've already opened my birthday season, meaning I've already started celebrating.

None of the traditional milestone birthdays have seemed momentous to me.  This one does.  The Beatles song "When I'm Sixty-Four" keeps rattling around in my head.  I think that song must have imprinted on my brain when I was a sweet young thing.

When I'm Sixty-Four

I feel like there is before Sixty-Four and after Sixty-Four.  I don't think working should be part of the after sixty-four scenario.  I have a sense that time is very precious.  I've reached that time in my life when I wonder if this is the last time I will do things.  This is probably our last house and probably our last kitchen.  I have friends who say it is like that for them, too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Antique drawer slides

We have this great old cabinet we bought in an antique store in Newburyport Massachusetts.  That was when we lived in our first house in Massachusetts.  It's lived in every kitchen since that house (this is the third one).  

It has these amazing drawer slides made entirely of wood.   I've never seen drawer slides like these anywhere.  You can see the drawer slide in operation here.  It makes this wonderful creaking noise when the drawer opens and closes (I also like the squeak of old screen doors).

Here is what they look like with the drawer removed.  Note the wooden rollers.

And here is what they look like removed.  See all those wooden rollers.

Northwest wildfires


There are several large wildfires burning in Oregon and Washington and the rest of the Northwest.  It's usual to have some fires late in the summer but it is particularly dry and unusually warm right now.  I check the fire news and the fire information all the time right now.

Northwest fire map

There is a bad one very near Sisters.  The smoke in Sisters must be horrific.  They've closed the Pacific Crest Trail in the area.

Pole Creek Fire near Sisters

This one is near Mt Adams and near several of our favorite hiking and camping spots.

Mt Adams fire

So far none are very close to Portland and mostly the wind doesn't carry the smoke this way.  But today it smells a bit smoky in Portland.  And last week it smelled pretty smoky when we went for a hike in the gorge.  It scared me to see how dry things are.  I think if I had seen anyone smoking a cigarette I would have tackled them (yes, people DO smoke when they hike).

I worry about all the places I love becoming charred for years to come, maybe for my lifetime.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Portland's early streetcars

A lot of older neighborhoods in Portland have rings for tying up horses along the edges of the street.  We have one in front of our house which was built in the early 1920's.  I found myself wondering who was using horses for transportation then.  Was milk being delivered in horse drawn wagons?   I didn't find the answer to that but I did find this interesting bit of history about Portland streetcars.

Portland Streetcars

And here is something about early dairies in Portland with photos...


I ordered a sample of a material called Chroma by 3-form.  It is a resin material.  It is translucent and I love how it is with light.

under a small lamp

on my windowsill
Chroma website

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's something about an old kitchen...

Some friends were lucky enough to move into an old house that still had its original kitchen pretty much intact.  They had new doors made for their cabinets (several years ago) and redid the counter.  I think part of the charm of the kitchen is the fact that the room isn't so big.  It feels person sized.  And the window does a great job of lighting the whole room.

In our kitchen, on the other hand, someone took a wall out and made it much larger.  It's very very functional.  But the light from the window doesn't reach as far as I would like.  Light is so important.  

I struggled a lot with what to do with our kitchen.  The layout works so well.   I had some ideas for getting more light but it would be really expensive.  In the end, we kept the layout.  It would cost too much to change.

I love many things about my kitchen and I am hopeful that when we do our new sink counter, I will love it even more.  But there is something about an old kitchen...

Here are a couple of photos of my friends' kitchen.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Workhorses in my garden

Hakenachloa... a work horse in my garden.  It looks good all season and it makes the plants around it look good, too.  It's no trouble at all to take care of.  Cats love to eat it.

Bee Balm Gardenview Scarlet.  It bloomed a full 2 months in my garden.  It's such a favorite with the hummingbirds; I think it is their very favorite flower in my garden.  I gave it lots of water and it wasn't a terribly hot summer.  I think both factors kept it blooming nice and long.

Penstemon 'Ruby'.  I just love the grace of the plant and the flowers.  The hummingbirds like it, too.  It blooms all summer but not continuously.  It had a bit of a rest and is blooming again now.

Ornamental Oregano  This is a great plant and does well in pots.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the door to summer

Summer isn't over yet here in Portland.  Through the front screen door...

The sky outside the front door

Through the back screen door to our teeny tiny back yard...

Friday, September 7, 2012

I like this tree over in Laurelhurst Park...there is something about that particular tree that I just really like.   I like this picture I took of it, too.

Here it is small;  I like the shapes and colors.

and here it is big.  I like the dappled light and the bark.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fountain in September

It really looks really pretty from the back door though I was not able to capture it as well as I might like.  The shadows and sunshine are making too much contrast for my camera.  The plants beyond the fountain are too dark.

Here is the whole thing but the plants are in so much shadow.

It takes two photos to see what my eye can see.  This is the fountain

 And here are the plants

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sink Wall Cabinets

Now that the island project is behind us, I've started designing the cabinets for the sink wall.  Here is where I am so far... (there is a big window between the upper cabinets).  The sink is a big farm sink.  The cabinet designs below the sink and on the top upper cabinets is a decorative cutout.  The lower upper cabinets have glass doors.   The base cabinet goes into a left corner and there are more cabinets on that wall.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Porch reading

It's lovely on our front porch.  Here is my comfy spot and the pile of books I am reading and looking at.

 The books include:

  • Bungalow Kitchens (with great photos of old kitchens)
  • The Restless Northwest (a geology book)
  • Daily Life in a Covered Wagon (a kids book about life on the Oregon Trail)
  • Tender at the Bone (by and about Ruth Reichl)

And this is a rose in my front yard.  I love how it looks lit from within.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Photography with a point and shoot camera

I have a little Nikon L22 point and shoot camera.  It's not very expensive.  It's small and fits in the bib pocket of my overalls.  It does pretty well with color.  Those are its best qualities.

I am pretty new at photography.  Sure, I've taken pictures all my life.  As a point and shoot person.  With my point and shoot camera.  Most of my life, my cameras took film.  Experimenting with film was expensive.  And also hard to learn from because there is so much time between taking the picture and seeing the picture. Not so with my digital camera.

So I take lots of pictures.  Of course, that means you have to weed through them and decide what to keep.  The picking process takes a lot of time.   First pass through I delete all the really bad ones; that's easy.  The harder part is when there are several similar shots and you like one part of one and another part of a different one.  I think there are photo adjustment tools that let you merge together photos, but I don't use them.  I think that would take a LOT of time.

A friend of mine recently complimented my photos so I thought I would write about what I've learned so far and where I learned it.

I learned a lot about getting the most out of a point and shoot camera from a thread on Portland Hikers where I asked for advice.

 The most important things I learned were

1) Prefocus the camera on the area you want not only to be in focus but with the light level you want the camera to set itself by.  I usually take more than one photo with differing focal points.

2) Pay attention to how the photo is framed.  Just because your eye sees something cool doesn't mean the camera can capture it.  Look and see.

3) My camera does not allow me to select F stops and shutter speeds except for indirectly.  I can change the mode (landscape, closeup, sports, evening, etc) and that has a lot to do with how the camera sets those.  Also the light level I prefocus on affects how the camera sets those.  I often take photos in different modes and see how they come out.

4) You won't see exactly what you will get.  The view finder doesn't show as clear or good an image as the camera takes.  I find that one frustrating because you don't really know what you got until you look at the photo.

 5) Use Picasa to adjust the photo.  It's pretty easy.  Start with I feel lucky.  And try fill light, shadows, cropping, straightening, color temperature and auto contrast.  You can also re-touch photos  which I use to get rid of minor things I don't want in the picture.  These are usually things that I can't shoot around like street signs or other things that we don't see so much in real life but really stick out in the photo.   And you can undo anything you try so experimenting is fun.

My friend Dave gave me the tip about using Picasa.  Thanks, Dave!  Dave and his wife Nancy are blogging about their great bicycling adventure in various parts of the world for the past year and a half.  I really enjoy their blog.  You can follow their blog here.

Leave Without Pay

the end of August

Oh, the light at this time of year!  So warm and soft and inviting.

We went out to Crown Point.  I wanted to look at all their wonderful old photos and explore the books they sell in the gift shop.  I got a couple of books.  One is a book on the Oregon Trail and the other is an Oregon geology book.

 Making dinner last night.  Just a simple soup with our homemade chicken broth.  I added carrots, cabbage, Udon noodles, ginger, cilantro and thai basil.  Mmmm, good.  The iron skillets look so good on the stove.

Panther Creek Falls

We took the long way home from the Lewis River.  We were going to go through Trout Lake and then back to the Gorge.  However, we ended up following a bit of a maze of logging roads to Panther Creek Road.  As long as we were driving by, we stopped at Panther Creek Falls.

I couldn't capture the whole falls at once.... here is the bottom portion.

Looking straight down from the viewing platform.

All that in one day...