Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I wrote a post here about how we do most of  our errands on foot.  This week we've had a lot of heavy rain and the rain has made walking more than a bit uninviting.  We don't have heavy rain very often here in Portland so maybe we were having sympathy rain for the east coast and hurricane Sandy.

Today was more like our usual light rain so off we went to the grocery store.  John uses an LL Bean bag to carry stuff.  Here is our big bag with our umbrellas on the plywood bottom that  John made for the bag.  Everyone admires how well it works for carrying things.

the polka dot one is John's

John, ready to leave

I carry some of the  heavy things in my 1980's, thirty some year old, Sierra Designs day pack.  Do you remember Sierra Designs?  The pack is canvas with a leather bottom and straps are lined with felt.  I added a strap across the front.  It's very comfortable to wear.  I've never found another kind of pack I like as well.

Today I carried potatoes and canned tomatoes and cheese and I can't remember what else, but it was noticeably heavy.

We walk through Laurelhurst Park on the way (that is true for most of our errands).  This is what it looked like today in the park, which is Halloween.  Happy Halloween!

Kitchen Sink Wall

The construction drawings for the sink wall cabinets are nearly done.   It's always hard for John to get started on construction drawings but he is past that start up problem and now his head is full of ideas he wants to get in his notebook.  So far he has more than fifteen pages of notes and drawings that detail the construction process.  Here are a few examples of what I mean.

I don't think it will be long now before the construction begins.  We have a stack of plywood for the cabinet carcasses.  We have all the hinges and knobs and pulls.  Yesterday he was looking at the Blum drawer slide catalog and making lots of happy sounds. 

We have modified our design again.  The base is now all drawers.  I don't have a drawing for the left side  of the L;  it will have another double upper much like the on the left side below and the base cabinet will have a single stack of three drawers.

The drawers on both sides of the L mean the blind corner will be a dead space.  We decided the best way to use the dead space is to put a time capsule in there.  The space is about 2 feet square and 3 feet high.  It's fun to consider what to put in there.  Certainly some kitchen design information.  But I think I will also put some other things in there.  Stuff that is from now that will be interesting or even collectible in the future.  You never know what useless plastic object from today will be highly collectible tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Call the Midwife

The series "Call the Midwife" is playing now on PBS.  It's BBC show set in the 1950's in East London.  The midwives are a group of young women living and working with an Order of Nuns.

You can watch episodes here on the PBS website:

Call the Midwife

Secret Rosies

I watched a really interesting documentary about women computers, as they were called.  These women were called human computers because they developed the steps and then performed the series of calculations to figure bullet and bomb trajectories.  They also were the key programmers on the Eniac, though they got little credit at the time.

The documentary is "Top Secret Rosies" ; I watched it on instant play Netflix, but I think it is widely available.

You can learn more about it here

Top Secret Rosies

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ramona Falls Hike

It was the last day before the rainy season and it was such a perfect day.  We hiked the Ramona Falls Trail on Mt Hood.  The first part of the hike is a slog through the sand and everything is dry, dry dry.  Then  you start following a lovely stream and it is like a different world and one much more to my liking.

The vine maples are showing their colors.

And this is Ramona Falls

You can see more of our photos here.

Ramona Fall Hike

Second spring

We have a "second spring" in our area.  The summers are very dry with hardly any rain.  In the fall, when it begins to rain again, the mosses and ferns and lichens all green up and it seems like a second spring.

Some might call it the start of the rainy season but it feels like second spring to me.  It started raining yesterday and everyone seems ready for the rain.  It won't be long till everything greens up.  I can't wait!

Update... It is early November and we are in our second spring now.  We've had more than a bit of rain and the mosses and ferns are very green.  At the same time, the deciduous trees and bushes are turning fall colors and losing their leaves.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Things I love to do that I hated in school

It seems a shame that school experiences can make us think we hate doing things that we actually love to do.  John and I were talking about how that happened to both of us.  School made us think we hated doing things we actually love to do.

I thought I hated research... In school,  I had to write papers, which required doing research in inadequate libraries where you couldn't find enough sources and you had to type it on a typewriter and use footnotes.  I still hate books with footnotes.  However, I love, love love research.  The internet has made research so enjoyable.  I am always researching something on the web.  It starts with reading or watching or hearing something that catches my attention.  I search for it on the internet.  And one thing leads to another and another and it is just so much fun.

I thought I hated physical activity... In school, physical activity happened during recess and PE with their regimented competitive sports activities.  I don't like having balls thrown at me and I hate having to hit them, kick them or try to catch them.  And in PE, you added the nasty locker room scene.  The physical activities I enjoy, like hiking and dancing and walking, were never part of school.

In fact, the fifties seemed to be all about avoiding physical activity.  I don't remember getting much physical activity as a child.  I spent all my time reading.  I never understand berating today's kids for  not being active... we weren't at all active when I was growing up.

Modified Sink Cabinet Design

John is (finally) working on the construction drawings for the new sink counter cabinets.  I thought he was crazy for two doors (one above the other) and he thought I was and really, neither of us wanted them.  Whew!

Here is our new design.  It is simpler and I like it much better.

Here is a link to our old design.

old design

Update.... modified again!  And this one is being built.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Against the wind

I really hate the wind.  Anything more than a slight breeze makes me jumpy.  I don't like the windows down in the car and of course, I don't like sail boats or motorcycles or convertibles.  The wind sets my teeth on edge and makes me agitated.   We've had several windy days and today is finally calm.  I feel so much better.

I grew up in eastern Montana, which is a very windy place.   I hated the wind then, too.  I grew up on a farm that didn't have public electricity.  We had a wind charger and for those times when the wind didn't blow, we had a generator.  My dad had to manually switch from one source of power to the other.  When I was really small, I thought he could control the wind and I used to cry and beg him to turn the wind off.

Portland is the least windy place I have ever lived.  And I am very happy about that.  We say we died and went to heaven when we moved here and the wind is just one of the many reasons I feel that way.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Life as a fire lookout

Wildfires are on my mind a lot right now.  The Northwest is having an especially long dry spell plus it has been windy these past few days and predicted to stay that way through the weekend.  It's scary dry here.  It is still very much wildfire season.

I just saw this video on Portland Hikers that has some great footage of life in a fire lookout.

When I was a sweet young thing, one of my fantasies was to be a fire lookout.  I never managed to make it happen.  I am not so sure that I would have liked it.   I don't think the reality of that life was very much a part of my fantasy, although I think I would have enjoyed the solitude and I think I would also have enjoyed "playing house" in a fire lookout.  But the lack of fresh food and the difficulty of hauling water would be big issues and some of the work was probably beyond a small woman.

I've read a couple of books about life as a fire lookout.  One of them is about Gary Snyder and his beat poet friends who worked as fire lookouts in the North Cascades.  That was in the fifties, the hey day of fire lookout history.  It's a great book with wonderful black and white photos.  The book is called "Poets on the Peaks" and it is by John Suiter.  I just looked for it on Amazon and it must be out of print.  There are some copies available, but for a high price.

  link to 'Poets on the Peaks' at Amazon

The other fire lookout book I've read is called "Fire Lookouts of the Northwest" and it is by Ray Kresek.  It must be out of print too because it is also really expensive at Amazon.

 link to 'Fire Lookouts of the Northwest' on Amazon

This book has hundreds of fire lookout experiences with black and white photos, most of them from the fifties.  Most of the stories are pretty amazing.  Some of them are funny and some are tragic.  There was the fire lookout in Southern Oregon who felt his building swaying and looked out to see an elephant rubbing against his foundation.  There are many stories of fierce and frightening, and even deadly, lightning storms.  Fire lookouts were furnished with a lightning stool which is a wooden stool with big glass insulators on its legs.  During a lightning storm, the fire lookout stood on the lightning stool to keep from being electrocuted.  The air was so charged that your hair would stand on end and you would often get shocks.  I certainly would not have liked that.

Here is a photo of me standing on a lightning stool in a fire lookout.  I would like to have my own lightning stool.

I did get to stay in a real fire lookout once when we rented one for a few days.  That photo was taken then.  It was a cool experience.   The fire lookout had been beautifully restored by a group of people who just love fire lookouts.  The view was great.   You can see our photos here if you are interested.

Fire lookout stay

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New old chairs

We found some vintage chairs for our kitchen table.  I've been looking for some and there they were!  They are remarkably just as I envisioned a 1920's kitchen chair should look: plain, with nice lines but not at all fancy.  Update:  I think they are called t-back chairs and are from the early 1900s.  Interestingly,  the seats are made of boards, not plywood.

I didn't want them to be heavy and these are quite light weight even though they are oak chairs. 

table with new chairs

John is going to tighten some of the joints and I am going to re-cover the seats.  I'll have fun looking for the fabric.
new chair
These are our former chairs, our "old" chairs.  We bought them new in the early 1980's.  They are crude reproductions of press back chairs.  I think they are going for a Victorian look but not entirely pulling it off.

table with old chairs
Here is a little history of the press back chair

Press back chairs

Update: I got the fabric and have started recovering the chairs.