Monday, January 30, 2012

Downton Abbey

Like gadzillions of others, Sally and I build our weekends around Masterpiece Theatre's Downton Abbey. If you are not already a viewer, I'd say that it is simply splendid in more ways than you'd wish to hear me recount.

Beyond being entertaining, this new classic is thought provoking. Using customs and mores of the early 20th century as a lens, it has brought one of the major social questions of our day into clear focus. While conservatives wail about the need to protect the institution of marriage, Downton Abbey reminds us that marriage has always reflected the times and culture. Beyond being open to reinterpreting marriage, I believe we are compelled to do so. That the State of Washington is on the verge of voting marriage equality into law is good news for many people I hold dear. The truly good news, however, will be the realization of the hope that marriage equality will become the law of the land. And someday some new classic will be written portraying the silliness and pettiness and tragedy that preceded that reality.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another Step

Yesterday Sally and I closed all our commercial bank accounts and opened a new, e-checking account with a small, neighborhood bank that exists to reinvest in North and Northeast Portland. Today we took the MAX downtown after work and deposited the last of our funds from our former bank to the credit union where the bulk of our funds have been held. It feels good.

We have more such moves to make. Following Netflix's 60% fee increase we cancelled that service. Red Box is fine, should we need it. In the month's ahead we will switch cell phone companies to put our money, mouths and ears into an organization that emphasizes corporate social responsibility.

OK. All this is a drop in the bucket. And our hands are not clean. We are continuing the effort to downsize and simplify. Doing without is often a responsible choice, but isn't much fun. Still, we are determined to continue making decisions that put our beliefs and values into action. Our banking choice was just another step.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Sally and I finally figured out how and where to see the new episodes of Portlandia without having an extensive TV package: we're taking in a free showing tonight at the Hollywood Theater! The Hollywood is one of our local icons, a non-profit theater on Sandy Boulevard that we drive or ride by several times a week. That they have a free showing of anything tells you a lot.

And Portlandia? It is really funny. I've long considered caricature one of the most basic and original forms of humor, taking reality and subtly distorting or overextending it until it becomes ridiculous. Portlandia IS ridiculous, but then, many of the characters protrayed bear an extraordinary resemblance to our new neighbors....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Event

We're having some weather here this week. After a dry December and early January we are finally on the receiving end of some winter weather. We had heavy wet snow yesterday and again this morning, not so much accumulating as inundating. I tried to shovel the walk but it kept flowing off to the side. Kind of a sidewalk smoothie.

There was a 110 mph wind gust on the coast this morning, and there are wind advisories for the city for this afternoon. Batten down!

I welcome the messy weather. We need the snow pack, for one thing. I also look forward to riding my bike on nicer days, thankful that the storm has subsided.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We're back to owing the bank for only one house, which is a relief. We aren't sure what will happen to the Spokane house now, as it is the property of the relocation company. One positive outgrowth of the time that has passed since we left, and some of the struggle we had in the process, is that we have pretty much lost our emotional connection with the house. Given that we haven't developed a connection with the new one, we are a bit adrift.

It's snowing in Portland this morning, which is headline news. A little snow here is hazardous as the city is not set up to remove it, and drivers are not accustomed to driving in it. We may get several inches, which would exceed the annual average. It's actually lovely.

We are turning our attention to some remodeling ideas this week. We need to get some idea of cost so we can set priorities. We won't engage in anything large scale this time around, but some closet revisions and a fireplace insert are likely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
Agnes Sligh Turnbull

We have lost a dear friend. I wanted to write about it yesterday, but couldn't see the keyboard through my tears. Cayenne, our companion and shepherd, breathed her last on Monday night. The end came quickly. She started panting heavily at about 7pm, and then began hemorrhaging. The vet at Dove Lewis did enough tests to rule out the non-lethal diagnoses. Cay apparently had a mass that had ruptured. Given her age and general health, we asked the doctor to put her down.

We knew the day would come, and dreaded it. Everyone in the family was tightly bonded to Cayenne. She has been such a part of our lives that it's hard to imagine being without her. I especially want to acknowledge how much she taught me about life. This is not hyperbole. She was an exceptional being.

Grief is the price we pay for loving deeply. I have preached this to many others. Now our entire family is living out that truth, and paying that price.

We trust that we made the right decision. The end for Cayenne was gentle and quick. She did not deserve more pain. I struggle with the decision, but would rather have the emotional turmoil myself than watch her struggle with physical distress. So we bid her farewell. Our lives were enriched and deepened by her presence. And there is an empty place left behind that I am certain will never be filled.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital

This isn't how we expected to spend the evening. Cayenne started panting during our dinner, and then came in from a trip outside bleeding profusely. We aren't sure what's going on, but most of the likely outcomes are dire.

We called our vet, and were directed to Dove Lewis. This is a much nicer experience than we had taking Sally to the emergency room in Spokane. The facility is well lit, well maintained, with a friendly and helpful staff. They also do euthanasia here when needed. I'm keeping one of their cards for future reference. If I start to fail this seems a better final destination than some.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Changing Icons

I remember my excitement in 1998 when we first obtained a Washington license plate featuring the image of majestic Mount Rainier. We weren't in Kansas anymore. Today I am excited that our car are sporting new plates with the huge, green fir against the backdrop of the mountains. It's good to have completed one more transitional task. Besides, the neighbor with whom we share a driveway is a Portland police officer. I'm guessing she noticed that we changed plates.

The move continues. We are doing well, and continue to create lists and cross off items. We're really excited to be riding our bikes so much in late December and early January - Sally rode to work today, and I rode much of the way with her twice.

Our animals are liking the move less. We are doing our best to help them get accustomed.