Tag Archives: irvington

Neighborhood Notes: Saving seeds, selling e-books

Did you know you can hand-pollinate plants with a paintbrush? Did you know that you can read e-books and support a neighborhood book store at the same time? True facts! These are things I learned when writing two new pieces for NeighborhoodNotes.com, my favorite hyper-local news site.

As of this morning, you can read this piece about small, independent booksellers who are testing the waters as online merchants and e-booksellers. I had a great time getting to know the owners of Portland’s Broadway Books, St. Johns Booksellers and Microcosm Publishing while diving into the economic and even political issues that have arisen with changes in the publishing industry. My research for this piece harkened back to the Brave New World session on publishing that I attended last year at Wordstock. Honestly, I don’t think the option of indie book stores selling e-books came up at that panel less than a year ago, so I hope this is a sign of new positive options for the industry.

For all you gardeners and locavores, check out this piece on seed saving. I’ve always wondered why anyone would do such a thing when seed packets are so cheap at big-box stores, but it turns out that seed saving can contribute mightily to the biodiversity of a region, or even a neighborhood. And if you’re looking for new ways to dig in to gardening, this story includes advice and workshop dates from experts at Portland’s Independence Gardens, Handmade Gardens, Portland Nursery and Herb’n Wisdom.

Each of these pieces was featured on The Oregonian‘s website, thanks to Neighborhood Notes’ partnership with the Oregonian News Network. The ONN (not to be confused with the Onion News Network) is a hyper-local news stream from several Portland news outlets and blogs, and it’s a good model of the collaboration and web-based innovation that’s helping journalism move forward.


Neighborhood Notes: New reasons to love Portland

Forgive the attempt at gangster language, but Southeast Portland is blowin’ up, yo! That quadrant of our fair city is home to four of the 17 new businesses we got word of in the last month—with even more indie biz goodness in the works. It boasts a board game shop, a gallery and artists’ hub, and a drool-worthy Italian deli, while the rest of town now offers more art and craft fun, a donation-based yoga studio and a vintage store housed in a camper. Did I mention last month that I love living here? Because I love it even more now.

It’s that time again. Time to take stock of some Portland entrepreneurs who are striking out and hoping to make a living and make a contribution to this city. My new business piece was published by the good folks at NeighborhoodNotes.com today and you can read it right here. Oh yeah.

PS: This photo is from the interior of Beulahland on SE 28th around 1 a.m. after a good round of true Japanese-style karaoke at VoiceBox.

Neighborhood Notes: 17 new ways to enjoy PDX this autumn

“Want to float in a tank of salt water in a locally made, retro bathing suit? Want to be part of Portland’s Hamburger Mary’s revival? Want to drink dozens of ciders, watch sports in fun pubs and park your bike on top of a specialty grocery store? As of this fall, you can do all that and more in Portland. Within the last month we got word of nearly 20 places that opened up shop in Portland, and we know these are just part of the picture in this bustling city that never tires of finding ways to entertain, renovate, intoxicate, and stuff the belly.”

Writing about Portland’s new businesses for NeighborhoodNotes.com is a huge treat for me. You know why? I get to find out about all the new ways to fill my weekends. And then I get to tell everyone about them. And then (hopefully) awesome small business owners get new customers, and everyone has an awesome time. Awesome!

I promise my vocabulary is better than this post indicates. Read the rest of the article at NeighborhoodNotes.com.

For Neighborhood Notes: Just opened in PDX

I’m taking on Neighborhood Notes’ new business column and I have to say, it is a lot of fun. It’s a place where I can put on my reporter hat, but wear a goofy T-shirt at the same time. It’s fairly amazing to see an entire list of all the new businesses setting up shop in this city (and I’m sure there are plenty we didn’t hear about). To give you an idea, the column includes:

  • A fusion restaurant newly staffed by drag queens
  • A burger shack where there’s bacon with nearly every menu item
  • Cartoons of a talking hamburger and a Bikeasaurus
  • A Bikeasaurus!
  • An indoor dog park (crazy, but apparently amazing)

If you’re looking for something new to do in Portland, or you want to count the puns I probably made throughout the epic piece, it’s all right here.

Now, for good measure, here’s a photo I got while I was pleasantly stuck on Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge for about 15 minutes the other day. I do my share of griping, but at sunset on a bridge, thinking of the Bikeasaurus and all his new friends, I love this city.

Neighborhood Notes Style Roundup

Here’s a link to my first story for Portland’s NeighborhoodNotes.com, a hyper-local online news source that I have recently teamed with. It was my job to contact local jewelry designers and find out why the cocktail ring is such a big deal all the sudden, which — trust me — was way too much fun. Check out the bling!

Cocktail Rings, Layered Rings: Bold Statements Beyond the Middle Finger

Between a mall cop and an old lady

Charity, it seems like a lot of weird stuff happens to you. You probably should have a blog. — G.E.

Here’s the short of it:

  • I was nearly run over by a mall cop.
  • People made fun of the mall cop, and I pitied him.
  • I was nearly run over by an old lady.
  • I flipped off the old lady, and I didn’t feel bad about it.

Here’s the rest of it:

Visiting the Dollar Store at any time of day or night is usually a depressing prospect, but it is especially so at 9 pm on a Saturday. But my wild Saturday night plans involved buying toothpaste, and it was most efficient to do so at the Dollar Store. To get to that toothpaste I had to walk past the Lloyd Center Mall, the one that distinctly smells of cream-cheese-frosting pretzels, new shoes, tater tots,  and homeless people all the time — all at the same time.

The streets and parking lots were mostly empty, but as I approached the entrance to a parking lot, I saw under the street light a mall cop riding a Segway. He was portly, the folds of his belly hanging over his belt line, breasts sagging under a nearly iridescent white dress shirt. He needed an undershirt. He needed a new job. But his posture and Segway helmet gave him a stately air, and he steered the Segway with purpose.

Exhibit A: The fictional Paul Blart, Mall Cop

Since I could see him so clearly, and since our paths were about to cross, I expected that the mall cop would pause, or even just slow down, as I passed him. Pedestrians have the right-of-way, right? Even against Segways? Even on sidewalks or in parking lots?

But this mall cop did not pause, did not slow for me. In fact, he nearly clipped my toenails. The grump in me, the sudden pedestrians’ rights activist, wanted to scowl, to shout after him, “Watch it, Segway!”

But before I had a chance to say anything, a trio of teenage girls were shouting from two blocks away.


The mall cop stared straight ahead, as though his Segway helmet were thick enough to keep him from hearing the taunts. But if he hadn’t heard them, he wouldn’t have approached the next parking garage with such intensity. If he hadn’t heard them, he would have tilted his head for a better view of the setting summer sun. He might have hummed a song from the radio, tapped his fingers on the Segway handlebars. He would not have whirred down the sidewalk stone-faced.


He heard them. Girls half his age, kids who already had more active social lives than he did. Girls who knew a little about kindness but were too self-conscious to try it out. He stared straight ahead, as he had likely done many times in public school hallways, where he earned a diploma in deflecting insults. Had he reached the master’s or PhD level, he would know that laughter was a more effective means of protection. Or perhaps he did know this, but didn’t have the courage to practice it.

The mall cop moved forward. So did I; so did the teens.

After a quick stop at the Dollar Store the street was quiet and shadowed as I headed home. I approached a crosswalk under a street light, waited for my green light, and then took a few steps into the intersection. At the same moment, a slick Prius jetted into my path, closer than the mall cop had been.

What kind of a night is this — two near run-overs in 15 minutes? What kind of a person didn’t pause for a pedestrian in a lighted crosswalk? What kind of a person turned a corner at 35 miles per hour?

The mall cop had nothing on this driver. I raised my right hand. I raised my middle finger. I flashed it in front of the driver, and as I did, I saw that the driver was an elderly woman. She looked like an urban liberal grandma, one who used to be a hippie before she started bringing home a six-figure salary. She had tight yet sagging arms, a gray buzz cut and a tight-fitting T-shirt that was probably made of bamboo fibers from an organic farm in Tibet or whatever.

I decided in less than a second that this woman was my nemesis. But the fact remained: I had flipped off an old lady. Forgive me, Jesus, for I am pretty sure that was a shitty thing to do.

For all I know — which is pretty much nothing — the sympathetic mall cop could have been a first-class jerk and the Prius-driving old lady could end up being my best friend some day. But, on the other hand, maybe she was the grandmother of the mall cop. I wondered how many times she had run her loved ones over with criticizing words, with her nagging about why they should all be driving Priuses and when were they going to go vegan anyway and, hey, who wants to come to Whole Foods market to pick up some toilet paper? Time for another buzz cut!

When you only have a split second with a person, that moment can remain lodged in memory, bright and hazy as parking lot lights. I wonder how many snapshot impressions we give people over the course of a day, of a lifetime? Are they all grossly inaccurate, or do they reveal tiny bits of truth?

For an anxious cowdog

Some days I look at my dog’s loving, expectant face and I know I will let her down.

Jackie O loves with a purity straight out of a Brita filter. I sometimes forget about her because she is four and a half feet shorter than I am and she doesn’t speak. She hardly barks; instead, she does most of her communication by licking people or trying to bore holes into them with her eyes. Her eyes are black, like stuffed-animal button-eyes with depth. But sometimes, in photos, they are a flat golden color, like sunlight hitting a mirror at noon.

Jackie O lives in an urban apartment complex with no yard. She wears a sleek black and white coat that would have been suitable for her namesake. She is neither large nor small — a mid-sized sedan — is mild mannered and, as such, fairly well-suited for city life. She has an energy that can only be characterized as anxious because she spends most of her life sitting on top of it, commanding it to hold still, to not leak out, like she commands her bladder on afternoons when she’s waiting for someone to come home. Perhaps this is how the former First Lady felt on nights when she waited for JFK to return home. Jackie O was made to run, to work, to give. Jackie O was made to love, and she will do so, no matter how confined her world is.

She defecates while wearing a leash around her neck, and someone behind her always picks up her feces with a plastic bag. Once she followed me to the bathroom and watched me through a crack in the door while I finished my business. I was sure I heard her thinking, “You don’t like this any better than I do, do you?”

But I’m also sure I was wrong in that thought — because really she followed me to the bathroom simply to avoid being alone, or out of a bizarre, simple fascination with me because I put Disney-brand Old Yeller kibble in her dish. Jackie O is like so many people on this planet; she sees it as wrong to be without company. She pulls on her leash when she sees a potential friend on the street. She pulls hard enough to make me fall forward in high heels; my marathon-running aunt has a hard time keeping up with Jackie O when dogs are within sight, even in running shoes.

Jackie O is a mutt who is a decided carrier of cowdog genes. She was made to chase herds of cattle in expansive spaces, but instead she chases garbage trucks down cul de sacs. Sometimes, if she takes off on her own, the garbage trucks hurt her when she gets too close, scraping the side of her face, nicking her paw. But she always runs to them; she is not wary of large machines.

However, she is wary of large men, of passersby who reek of alcohol, of feet dropping near her face, of loud voices — no matter how innocent their intentions. She was once a shuddering pup found by our friend in a shelter, and the shaking returns on occasion when we have been gone for most of the day. She yelps in her sleep, shudders under the kitchen table, and refuses to bark unless she senses grave danger. Sometimes it seems her stare is trying to tell me: “I remember people before you,  before the others. I remember hands and feet that were not loving.” And three seconds later she is burrowing her head in my leg, forgetting she ever had reason to fear people.

And today, again, I have patted her head, filled her belly, walked alongside her quick feet and let her mark her territory on the neighbor’s lawn. She saunters away from my feet, into the next room and I feel a tinge of rejection as well as relief that she has stopped staring at me, that she has taken respite from reminding me that my love for anything — even for my own self — could never be as great as hers. That I fail to match her heart.