Friday, June 27, 2008

Climate change - losing polar ice cap?

It seems my blogs have mainly consisted of links recently. I've been busy with my existing business and a new one. I wanted to share one more link. It's depressing, but should also be a call to action in one way or another:

My own efforts go into two main areas at the moment:

1. Helping save the health of the rainforests by focusing on saving one of the largest mammals you'll find there, tapirs


2. Helping people get their health back by addressing lifestyles through diet, exercise, and very effective health-promoting supplements. Maybe I'll get brave and tell my own story sometime. After all, this is a personal blog!

That's all for the moment. I'll be posting some photos again soon. That's my favorite part of blogging . . . the pictures!

(503) 338-8646

Monday, June 09, 2008

Evening colors on the Columbia River

These two photos were taken from the back deck of our store. Online the store is Tapir and Friends Wildlife World. We simplified the name for our brick and mortar location (or rather siding and pilings location) in Astoria, because it's the rare customer here who knows what a tapir is before they arrive, and we thought "The Animal Store" would be easier to remember. We get the occasional person looking for dog food or cat collars, and we direct them down the street to the pet store. More and more, people arrive out of curiosity or because they now know us and are looking for an unusual stuffed animal or other animal-themed gift for someone in town.

But that's a digression. I took these photos because I enjoy the changing colors. In this case, it's nearly sunset, and the river has taken on a peach-hued glow. If you click on the top picture to enlarge it, you can get a better view of the faint long line at the left just above the water. This is the Astoria-Megler bridge, crossing the four-mile span to Washington. The light sliver of color at the top of the photo is the sky, while the darker peach color which makes up most of the background is the shape of the hills across the river. The dark gray post at the left is the railing of the River Pilots' building, where the guys sleep when they're off-duty.

The pilot boat passes by several times on an average day, taking river and bar pilots to the big ships going up river or out to sea. The bar at the mouth of the Columbia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a ship to leave or enter the ocean. It's been called "The Graveyard of the Pacific," and many wrecks lie at the bottom of the channel. The pilots have distinct jobs - there's a pilot to guide the ships across the ocean, another to guide them across the shifting bar at the mouth of the river, and yet another to guide them up the Columbia River to either Longview or Portland. It's interesting here in Astoria to watch the pilot boats take the guys out to the ships and bring them back. This is one of the changing points. Another is on the high seas, and we can't see that operation from here. The pilots climb up and down ladders on the sides of the ships, and we can see them from various points in Astoria, including here. I'll post pictures of that activity at some other time.

The second photo shows the base of the radio tower that still broadcasts signals from several stations. The transmitter room is in our building. On the right is the back end of what used to be Englund Marine, a well-known nautical supplier, now moved to the other end of town. Condos are planned for the site. I'm dreading that, to be honest, and have signed a petition to block it. I've heard that the design is very nice, but one of Astoria's best features is the river and the views. The condos will be three to four stories tall and, equally as bad or worse, they will extend much wider than the current building, blocking more of the river view east of us. Now that I'm on my soap box, let me note that in Europe, rivers become the heart of many cities, with parks and public walkways featured. In the US, probably a vestige of when our cities were built - the industrial era with its focus on productivity, not on the preservation of nature or particular consciousness of esthetics in that sense, we've backed our industries up to the rivers. When I lived in Palisade, Colorado, near Grand Junction, you could barely get to the Colorado River at any point in Grand Junction proper because of the industrial parks or buildings that owned the riverfront land and made eyesores out of it. Shortly before I left Colorado, they began to build a river-walk trail outside of town, which was very nice, but nobody yet had addressed the river as being a potential beauty mark of the town. Astoria does have an extensive river walk with an extension planned in the next few years, but here we're schizophrenic about it. We've got the walk, used by many for walking, jogging, biking, skate-boarding, and sight-seeing, which is fantastic, but then we plan projects like this condo, which will block access from the walk to the river front, and views from the hill behind and from the highway (or Marine Drive, as it's called in town). One of the things I love about this place is the view of the river and beyond as you drive into town, and in a number of locations that's already been obliterated since my arrival in 2001. So anyway - the old building is shown here in the glow of evening.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Market in Astoria

Nice hair!

I took this photo while looking toward the Columbia River from somewhere near the middle of the Sunday Market's lineup of white tents. This is a summer event much enjoyed by Astorians. It occurs rain or shine. We look forward to buying fresh fruit and vegetables, starter plants, looking at and sometimes buying hand-made jewelry and many other crafted items and artwork, running into friends and generally relaxing from work. One of the rules for having a booth at Sunday Market is that you have to make the products yourself. This makes the event continually interesting, friendly, and ever-changing.

If you walk toward the river and turn right, The Animal Store (my business) is only two blocks down the River Walk. I've especially enjoyed being close to the market these past two years. The dark blue shapes you see at the end of the street are actually the hills on the other side of the river in Washington.

Facing away from the river: On the left in the old bank building, is Mike's Columbia River Day Spa. Getting a salt scrub, facial, or massage with warm, rounded stones is a real treat!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Beautiful invasive species at Coffenbury Lake

Some of Oregon's most beautiful flowers are invasive species. The yellow Scotch broom is one of them. It's everywhere along roadsides in spring and summer. It's stunningly beautiful to look at, but alas, it does not belong here and overwhelms other species. It costs the state of Oregon a whopping $47 million each year in lost timber production plus a few more million for other problems caused by the plants. A student won an award for a process to turn it into biofuel. I took this photo at Coffenbury Lake on the east side in the picnic area. The purple flower is called red foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). It's also non-native, but it doesn't spread as fast and is not as tenacious as Scotch broom.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Astoria jail and more color - pipes against a building

Another landmark - the Astoria jail (above). Below, more colors. I like photos of architectural and industrial detail. I've always loved analogous colors (below). These are luscious! I find that more recently, I'm enjoying contrasts.

Colors on 8th Street - Astoria, Oregon

Flavel House, Astoria, Oregon The Flavel House is one of Astoria's most prominent landmarks after the imposing waterfront and the column at the top of the hill. It is certainly an interesting and cherished one. Built in 1887 by Captain George Flavel, it pre-dates my grandmother's house (built by her grandparents) in Corona, California, by two years. That's one reason it interested me to take a tour the first year I arrived here. My grandmother's house was probably larger in square footage and had more extensive grounds with much planing and many fruit trees, but Flavel's house was about 2 points higher on the ostentation scale, the ornateness scale, the tall baseboard scale, the wood mouldings scale, and the intricate hardware scale (hinges, door knobs). Both people built for quality, comfort, artistic expression and, I'm sure, to be known as the best and most prominent around. Interior furnishings and decor were still intact in the Flavel House, and this interested me a lot. It gave me insight into what the ancestral home must have looked and felt like inside. The Flavel House has been preserved beautifully and kept as a showpiece by the Historical Society, whereas Grandma's house was butchered horribly. That's another story for when I find time and the right photos.

Today was June 1. After what seemed like six months of winter, the sun was out for the day and the flowers were bright. I'd walked halfway up Astoria's hill barely stopping to breathe. In fact, I was carrying on a conversation on my cell phone the whole way from Sunday Market downtown to the top of 8th Street and beyond, and I felt strong and sassy. A few years ago, this burst of energy would have been unthinkable. At 59, I enjoy seeing my health improving and my body getting back into shape. I will never be 20 again, but I thoroughly enjoy doing things I was unable to do during so much of my 30s, 40s, and early 50s. More on that some other time. Today I was into colors. I took photos of flowers and houses, and - you know how when you get back and look at the pictures, and you didn't take the one or two photos that would totally bring the scene together? I didn't take a single picture looking up or down 8th Street, which is a shame, because it's a showpiece all its own. Add a cable car and you're on one of San Francisco's most notable engineering feats. And so the descriptive 8th Street photo will be saved for another day. The Flavel House is at the bottom of 8th Street. Backtracking a bit and starting from the top, here are some colors and a couple of scenes across the Columbia River.

From 8th Street, you can just see Tongue Point - the dark mass of greenery sticking out into the river. The East Mooring Basin, where you can see fishing boats and sea lions is between Tongue Pont and the gray, weathered fence.

Colorful houses, colorful flowers.

Color can be found in the humbler features as well. I loved the blue-purple hand rail against the green horsetails and the yellow lines painted on the parking lot at the foot of 8th.

The photo above is not actually on 8th Street, but at the bottom of the 8th Street hill across Marine Drive on the two-block-long Astor Street with the River Walk, the trolley, and the place-defining Columbia River in the background.

River Walk near the Wet Dog Cafe - Astoria, Oregon