Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Portland Mayor’s Race

Max Brumm is running for Mayor of Portland.

And his opponents – the ones so far announced – don’t seem to have a lot of ideas.

So they are co-opting Max’s ideas.  And as they co-opt Max’s ideas, they, of course, don’t make any attribution.  Attribution would admit that there is a candidate named Max Brumm.

And that, they must feel, would be a mistake.

It is better to just pretend that no such person exists.

Max Brumm is a viable candidate for the job of mayor of Portland Oregon..

How do I know that?  Instinct mainly.

But I have known him for quite some time and I have noticed that he always means what he says. 

And that is, from my point of view, an important characteristic in a leader.  And what he has said, and, therefore, what he means, are ideas that could be important for the City of Portland.

That is probably why his opponents are beginning to offer up his ideas as their own.

And that just isn’t right.

His opponents apparently are scared to death of what Max Brumm is. That is because: he has no history; he has no interest groups; he has no money. He is just the raw sort of politician that – in the old days – used  to win elections - before money and party - became the only names of the game.

So what are Max’s opponents saying about him?

How interesting.

They aren’t saying anything about him.

In fact, they are ignoring him.

But – as they ignore – they adopt.

They adopt Max’s propositions to the voters of Portland.

And therein lies a tale.

So, let’s look at it.

Max said, when he announced in April – he was the first – that he had four issues and a slogan.  The slogan would be the banner; the issues would be what he would carry forward as part of his administration’s to-do items. They were:

1. The Max Banner: “Change Starts at the top”

2. Issue One: We need efficient City Infrastructure

3. Issue Two: The Pot is the Pot.  Switching Money Around Doesn’t Change the Amount Available.

4. Issue Three: Parks are a disgrace.  They need to be turned into something that a world class city would consider to be acceptable.

That was April.

This is July.

So what is different?


Max now has two opponents. 

And they won’t admit that they are running against a nineteen year old who is serious.

But what they have begun to decide to say would seem to indicate that they have noticed Max and have discovered the issues that Max has made part of his campaign from the start. Here is what they are now saying, long after Max first said it.

!. The Food Lady says we need to change things at the top.

2. The food lady also says that we need more city infrastructure.

3. The Stephenson Guy says that we can’t keep moving money around.

4. The Stephenson Guy also says that we need better parks.  (So, why is somebody from Washington in this race anyway?)

As an interested observer from Seattle (so do I get to run also) I just wanted to point out an apparent electoral oddity: the best candidate in the Portland Mayor’s race is being treated as if he were invisible.

Luckily Max is highly, in fact, visible.  And to date he seems to be the one with the ideas.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Difference

It is astounding, sometimes, to me.

“It”, that is, is  the difference between me and my wife.

Back before we both became unemployed via that euphemistic transitional term – retirement – we were both gainfully employed for quite a number of years.  As it happened, we both worked for the same company.  We both worked for IBM.  As it turned out, the fact that we both worked for that company had a great deal to do with – everything really – the fact that we ever became married. 

It’s hard to imagine, in the face of some of the stresses that the fact of that mutually shared employer imposed on us, how we could still be married. 

But we are.

Self serving history aside, the point to what I had set out to write when I first set out to write whatever it is that is still to be written, is that I am writing that she and I – my wife and I – are diametric beings.

I just had  my nose rubbed in that fact as recently as an hour ago.

She was going back to Seattle.

I am staying on the island with Bert. 

Bert needs to be stayed with because Bert is a cat. 

Cats have many qualities that make them quite independent.  Several of those qualities aren’t scooping the poop from their cat boxes and feeding themselves after their bowls have become empty. So if you have a cat, and Bert is a cat, you need to consider their strengths and their weaknesses (I prefer to think of the weaknesses as unique requirements) when you think about travelling.

Bert brings to the table some non-cat related special requirements.  He is really old.  We don’t know how old because he joined us from somewhere – some house up above ours in rich people’s land - on the upper side of our back garden in Seattle.  Our best guess is that he lived with someone who had died. That best guess continues with the belief that whoever it was that, subsequent to that assumed death, settled the assumed dead person’s affairs, had no place for Bert.

We have no idea, obviously, what his – the cat’s - real name is.

So – as our self-invented myth of Bert recounts - he came down and insinuated himself into our lives.

And that insinuation was gradual. 

Bert is a politician.

That was in 1998.  Bert must have been, the vets tell us, four or five years old at the time.

But back to the point of this story. 

That point being the difference between me and my wife.

She spent a good part of the afternoon packing her car for the trip back to Seattle.  Most of what she was packing was recycling and garbage.  We prefer not to burden the island with our detritus. 

Besides we pay for two addresses to the City of Seattle for taking stuff like that to wherever the City takes stuff like that.

But there were a few other – more crucial – things that needed to be packed. 

The strawberries that we had picked this morning were among those things.

She left about an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of ferry departure time which was really unlike her but she really wanted to make that ferry.

After she left I went out and planted some chard to backfill that which we have already consumed.

I also planted a couple lettuces. 

That was not a backfill.

That was a pale rider of an imitation of the massive crop of lettuce – in all its amazing plethora of forms – that is going to seed much faster than is our ability to consume it.

Having planted those things, the weather having been quite dry, I attached the hose to the faucet and started to water everything, starting with the herbs, catnip and lettuces.

It was quite pleasant.

The water that runs out of the head of the sprayer and the water that runs out of the place where the asymmetrically deformed male joint of the hose  (sorry, I don’t know how else to describe the mechanics of this) is connected to the sprayer.  Most of that water could and was directed to the various plants that had become amazingly dry in the last 36 hours or so.  However, the non-sprayed-to-the-plants water – the water that came out of the head and out of the joint with the hose – of course had to go somewhere, and it wasn’t to the plants.  That somewhere where the water had to go turned out to be my shoes, and all over my pants.

But what the hell.

I was just finishing filling my shoes and wetting my pants while at the same time watering the last of the driftwood delineated beds that we have planted with all sorts of vegetable delicacies when a car came shooting down our driveway.

It’s not a driveway, it is a very short gravel road, but driveway is the easiest thing to call it.

The window of the car was down.

My wife was in the car, which shouldn’t have surprised me because the car was her car.

“I forgot the strawberries” I heard floating over the air between me in the garden and the going-down-the-driveway car.

“Shit” I said to myself, on her behalf.

Replete with that guilt that can only come from empathy – and love – I thought to myself “why didn’t I just stay in the house?  She must have called and I could have taken the berries to her and she could have kept her place in line at the ferry dock.”

But I had been planting and watering. 

So she had needed to make a decision.

And therein lies the point to this story – the point with which I commenced this story.

That point was, and is, the difference between us.

I, had the identical misfortune befallen me, would have sat in line, cursed, railed against my ancestors, the fates, the gods, the leadership in Washington DC and the administration of the Washington State ferries.

But I would have stayed in line.

I have no idea what, if any, verbal externalization my wife might have indulged in.

But, because she appeared coming down the driveway at about the time that the ferry probably should have been loading, I know that she hadn’t stayed in line.


I called her on her iPhone about ten minutes after the ferry must have departed.

To my surprise she answered.

“She must be in line waiting for the eight o’clock” I thought to myself.

“Hi, where are you?”

“I’m on the ferry.”

I couldn’t have done that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Email Musings in Response to an Imaginary Friend

I just finished dinner.  It was a filet of sockeye salmon from Alaska and a salad made from lettuce we have grown here on the island. I also had some steamed broccoli from an unknown source.

It – the dinner - was assisted by the better part of a bottle of cheap cabernet sauvignon from Columbia Crest.

At dinner’s completion I felt fortified enough to come back to your email, which I received earlier today.

I am really glad that you are drinking. 

I may not be quite so glad about the spirit, or quantity that you appear to be bringing to the project, but the base fact is, I believe a positive one. 

But then I voted for Ronald Reagan. 


So I probably shouldn’t be commenting on anything, let alone something as important as the balance of someone’s life.  Especially when that balance belongs to someone important to me, and important despite the massive multi-year silence that for reasons I can’t understand descended upon the relationship. 

So why should I be telling that person, that relationship, that drinking (again or still?) is a good thing? 

Instinct, I guess.

I know not, except from my own self concept, but I THINK that a lot of us feel as you do.

If you were to read Screen Saver from front to back sequentially, I believe you would see that that is how I feel – that we  - you and I, among a small host that I know of - should have been acknowledged to have been, or maybe even were, more significant than the fates have given us credit for. 

I just choose to say “what the fuck” and keep forging ahead, either toward oblivion or toward fame. 

Given the time left, and my track record to date, the latter seems more likely.

As for you, you apparently have chosen to brood.

I think both approaches to the problem have their place.

In any event, I am glad that someone is actually reading my memoir, albeit cafeteria style.

I think I’ll finish the wine.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Death Revisited

In Screen Saver I recount two times that I think that I have died. 

One of them was fairly recent: it was in 2007, I think. 

Anyway, it was when I had to stay in bed for six weeks to recuperate from foot surgery.  That time I wasn’t actually in bed when the occurrence occurred; I was in a chair in the living room lifting weights to keep from going crazy and to keep from becoming a disgusting pool of flab.  That time I just went elsewhere and didn’t return for a short period of time and had some frolics of fancy in my absence.

The more recent experience was substantially more strange than its predecessor.

Today I had it’s twin.  That is, I had the twin experience to the more recent of the two. And it was equally strange.

If you were to read Screen Saver you would know about both of the predecessor experiences and be able to evaluate their relative strangeness for yourself.

The one today was as follows.

I was about 7 miles into a great – it turned out to be, 16 mile bike ride - and I  suddenly discovered that I was somewhere else and fading.  I won’t belabor the rest of the story, although it is fairly interesting, as much as I am able to remember it. 

The end of the story is that I think I have returned.from wherever it is that I had lapsed to, although things – things such as who and where I am - continued to ebb and flow for most of the rest of the day.

All things considered, I like still being here.

But if there is good wine and stuffed zucchini from Vita’s in some other place, and if we go there when we finally fade, I guess going won’t be so bad. 

Especially if my wife is there.

She doesn’t believe in this shit that I keep having happen to me.

An that is a comforting counterbalance to my vestigial Roman Catholic fears of an afterlife.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ollie the Eagle and the New York Times

Since the last post Ollie has been in the land of the missing.

We want to hope that that is good news.

We want not to hope that that is bad news.

But we just don’t know.

After sitting on the beach with his back turned to us, and to the salmon that we had put out for him to eat, he flew off with surprising vigor.  So maybe what we want to hope is more likely than what we want not to hope. 

But we just don’t know. 

But apparently we can be sure of something else.

The New York Times, having been declared to be dead, or at best, moribund, seems to be doing quite well on the Island. 

At least, that can be said, about the Sunday edition.

Only a few weeks ago the local market decided to sell the Sunday New York Times.  If the paper were dead, or moribund, that decision should have stirred up vast quantities of buyer apathy.

That hasn’t been the case.

We got to the market at 0930 last Sunday and got the last New York Times. 

They had been on sale for an hour and a half. 

Dead seems to be a description that just doesn’t fit the state of the paper.  Or at least on our island, the New York Times is alive and sold out every Sunday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ollie Update From My Wife

Tuesday AM.  We found the eagle on the beach beyond the trail.  His appearance was very disheartening (see below).   He was lying in the sand, appeared scruffy, moved stiffly, and pooped a few times.  Imagine if you'd slept all night on the beach, and you'll have a pretty fair image of how he looked.  We put out some salmon, but he was not interested.  So as not to further disturb him, we left a short time later.

Tuesday PM.  After the disappointment of the morning, we were relieved to find him sitting on a log looking somewhat better.  We were able to approach quite close and put down over a pound of salmon on a log.  As soon as I withdrew a short distance, he flew to the salmon, inspected it, and began wolfing it down.  Check out this youtube video for an amazing movie about 19 minutes long...the real action begins about 3 minutes in). 


In previous emails we discussed his injured RIGHT leg.  After watching him and watching the video, we have concluded it's his LEFT leg that's the problem.  He limps badly when he walks and appears to lack the strength in his left leg to effectively hold fish while shredding with his beak.  Watching him limp is heart-rending, but he's a game fellow.  Although still dirty and dishelved, he seemed more alert and energetic.  After he'd eaten most of the salmon, we withdrew.  We were probably 30' from him, but with the zoom lens we might as well have been on top of him.

Wednesday PM.  He was much farther down the beach, sitting on a log.  We approached to within 20'; he looked a little nervous but didn't fly.  This time we put out turkey breast.  He watched, but didn't come to inspect.  A couple of times he buried his beak in his breast and wing--is this the beginning of preening?  We formed the impression that he was looking and listening to whatever might be in the trees up the hill.  He's still limping badly on the left leg.  A couple of eagles flew overhead screeching.  We thought they might be what he was listening to.  We reclaimed all but two pieces of turkey breast.  Just as we were leaving he took off (flying pretty strongly) and disappeared into the trees.

Thursday PM.  We had to go three hours earlier than normal feeding time.  We found him on the beach just south of the fallen blackened Madrone tree.  He was sitting on driftwood but flew when I approached to put out the food, landing on a branch in a nearby tree .  He was still favoring his left foot and trailed it when he flew.  Unfortunately our timing has not been good enough to catch him flying.  We put down three large salmon filets, which he seemed to see from his perch in the tree.  Uncharacteristically, he turned his back to us and refused to come down to eat.  After a short time we left while he was still in the tree.

ollie eating salmon for email 00001

ollie eating salmon for email 00002

ollie the eagle 062811 0000 email