Saturday, April 5, 2008

An Affront to the Waterfront

I noticed the following article in The Daily Astorian on Friday, and it really struck a nerve.

I thought the good ol' boyz (and girls) in town handed Jon Englund a slam-dunk for his "you owe it to me" 4-story grab of Astoria's waterfront view.

But it never dawned on me that even tho the view got sold down (or up) the river by the locals, that there might be a court of appeal. Apparently there is.

Don't know about you, but I'll sure as hell be writing. Unless you want the Astoria waterfront to look like the picture above, courtesy of LNG and condos, of course.

The Daily Astorian
April 4, 2008

Corps seeks comments on Englund plan

Volume of comments will determine if a public hearing is held on the project

The developers of the proposed Englund Pier condominiums have applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit for the project, which is to be built on pilings in the Columbia River between 15th and 16th streets.

It will consist of a three-story building and a four-story building, with a boardwalk located between them.If approved, the permit would allow developers to demolish the old Englund Marine building and expand the existing dock by 68,000 square feet over the river by installing an additional 320 steel piles to support two housing buildings and a public boardwalk pier.

The steel piles would be 24-inches in diameter and 60 feet long, and would be driven approximately 53 feet below the ordinary high water line.

The Corps is seeking comments from the public, as well as from federal, state and local agencies and officials, Indian Tribes and other interested parties. The Corps uses comments to help determine whether to issue or deny a permit or to impose conditions or modify the permit.

Comments are also used in preparing an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement. Comments are also used to determine the overall public interest in the proposed project and whether a public hearing should be held.

• For additional information, phone Tina Teed at (503) 808-4384 or send an e-mail to her at or log on to: to see the entire public notice for permit application.

The deadline for comments to be received by the Corps is May 2

More Info

Written comments should reference Corps of Engineers Action ID: NWP-2007-929 and should be addressed to:

U.S. Army Corps of EngineersAttn: CENWP-OP-GP (Tina Teed)
P.O. Box 2946
Portland, OR 97208-2946

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DeLaura Who?

The other day I was talking to someone who has lived here in Astoria for 20 years, and she had no clue that DeLaura Beach in Warrenton is really a beach, as in ocean front property. She couldn't figure out what the fuss was about the Clatsop County Commissioners trying to sell it to the highest bidder instead of just keeping it as part of the county or selling it to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

No, I'm not making this up. I was astounded. I had to go to the computer, dredge up a map of the property and show her.

Then she was astounded.

Which made me wonder how many more people there are out there in Clatsop County who have no clue what a treasure this piece of land is, and how important it is that it remain as public land.

Just take a look:

DeLaura Beach

I can only hope that the recall of commissioner Richard Lee is successful, and it rattles three of the other commissioners enough to think twice about what they're doing.

They have a responsibility to pay attention to what their constituents want, although they appear to be willfully ignorant, and willfully intransigent. They need a wake-up call.

Selling one of Clatsop County's legacies to the highest bidder is totally unacceptable.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Never on Sunday?

Well, it looks like there's a new gorilla on the horizon in the outdoor market biz: Grays Harbor Street Market in Aberdeen, Wash.

I got an email this morning asking me if I'd be interested in vending there on weekends from the market manager. They'll be running Saturdays and Sundays from May to October, starting late enough for plenty of time to get up there and set up without getting up at 4 a.m.

The manager had some pretty compelling statistics ... Astoria gets only 3,000 passing through on a regular market day (I think that's a very high estimate), whereas Aberdeen gets an average of 17,000, minimum, as people pass through on their way to the northern beaches. And of course, the Grays Harbor market will be right on US 101.

All of which made me ponder the Astoria Sunday Market once more. Why do I even do it? Aside from the fact that it's conveniently located for me, that is.

There's little foot traffic, there's favoritism on the part of market management (ask any vendor who hasn't puckered up to kiss ass about that one), there are too many vendors for such a small amount of consumer traffic, and the vendors have absolutely no say in what goes on, since its a monarchy. I mean, where's the plus side, aside from convenience?

Last year I had high hopes for the Longview, Wash. Saturday market. No soap. They had a great location, but they forgot one essential detail ... they didn't advertise, so nobody had a friggin' clue they even existed. One Saturday in August, I was driving through Longview, and was there even ONE stinking sign saying there was a market and how to get to it? You'd think the city would have sprung for one billboard or something. Nope. Nada. Forget it.

The market in Ilwaco, Wash., is run by a wonderful lady, Sharon Saunders, who actually cares about her vendors (a small miracle, right there). But the disadvantage is that the market is directly on the waterfront and subject to whatever happens to blow in off the Pacific Ocean. Which could be one, or several, squalls a day, and there's no protection for the vendors' tents or merchandise. I've already had one tent torqued beyond help over there.

So hello, Aberdeen, I'll give it a shot. At least people passing through can't miss the damn thing, and it's not right on the water.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Feline Follies

If there's one thing I can relate to, yet still don't completely understand, it's the house cat. I understand the independence thing probably way too well, and the insouciance, which is just a nice way of saying "smartass." I even get the cat box thing. However, I draw the line at puking hairballs and eating paper.

I have several house cats, some of whom are feral. I won't divulge the number, as it is truly embarrassing. However, here's a hint: everywhere I've lived, people have dumped cats on my doorstep and every feral cat in my neighborhood has found me like I was a catnip magnet.

One of my cats, who is named after a McDonald's snack (no, it's not Nugget), has suddenly decided to change her life. She was the queen of what I call the "upstairs cats" for a long time. She herded them, took care of them, cuddled with them, groomed them and ran to the top of the stairs to squawk when the feeder or water tubs got low. She was a very conscientious cat.

This summer, she suddenly retired to a cubby hole under the stairs, abandoning her charges upstairs, and just chilled out. No, she was not sick. The upstairs cats were totally baffled and confused. She hid under the stairs for a couple of months, only sneaking out for food, water, and the catbox.

Last week, she sauntered out of the cubby hole and decided to take on the downstairs cats and the dogs. Well, this was just unheard of. A rebel? The downstairs cats are resentful. One dog wants to bathe her in slobber. The other dog doesn't give a shit, she's not kibble.

Now she is prancing on the kitchen counters (NO! isn't working so far), rearranging the dirty laundry in the baskets by the washer, checking out my computer chair, reclining on TV tops for warmth, and generally settling in and establishing her territory downstairs.

I wonder ... is this the feline equivalent of mid-life crisis?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Down, Two to Go

I was just pooping along tonight when suddenly I got a "breaking news" email from The Daily Astorian.

Not surprisingly, one of the three complaints made by the Pad Marquis' Pocket Posse about supposed campaign irregularities on the part of their opponents has been rejected outright by the secretary of state. This one was about flyers, and was a no-brainer, really.

I have no idea what they thought they were complaining about in the first place. I guess they thought they were rustling up votes for Marquis' pocket-padding by trying to stir up some indignation against those who think Marquis should just do his damn job and quit whining.

They stirred up my indignation, all right. I'm pissed. At them, and at Marquis, for the revolting bully-boy tactics they're using.

I mean, Marquis' posse are just the kind of folks who would have been right at home in Cotton Mathers' obsessive witch-hunting era. I find it truly scary that Maquis would align himself with this anti-free speech crowd just to make a fucking buck.

How the hell did this district attorney manage to get so out of control?

Voting "No" on Measure 4-123 is a vote to start putting him back in line.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ballot Blues

Ah, the election. I am so almighty sick of the election, and it's still a few weeks away.

I don't know what annoys me more ... the district attorney trying to gull the county into paying him a "stipend" (when he's a state employee) with Measure 4-123, or the fact that he's publicly whining about an $85K a year salary. If he doesn't want it, I'll take it. I think I could manage pretty well on $85K a year. And without whining.

While I think of it, hey, if he doesn't think he gets paid enough here, he's welcome to go somewhere else where they have real elections. Whoops, maybe that's why he's digging his heels in so deep here ... he might not be interested in having to compete against others to get elected.

And this ridiculous blather that his proponents keep saying ... that he's been "re-elected" several times. It's kinda like the tree that fell in the forest ... has he ever really been "elected" since, as I recall, he was appointed to begin with, and nobody ever runs against him? Hell, even if he and his wife were the only ones voting for him, he'd get the job. Call me silly, but it's hardly a resounding vote of confidence when you win after not running against anyone.

Oh yikes (!), the paranoia. Some lady gives some money for the opponents of the district attorney's measure and you'd think the world was coming to an end.

What happened to privacy? This really reeks. I, who normally don't give a shit about such things, am repulsed by the threatening air about the whole tawdry mess. Donate against the cause of the D.A.'s stipend and your ass will be dragged through the press, and you and your donation will be investigated. Ugh.

And that damn cigarette tax, Measure 50. I don't even smoke any more, but sin taxes piss me off on general principle. Not to mention, all that bullshit about the money going to children's health insurance. Oh hell, it's one of the oldest scams in the book ... pass the tax, raise the money, and hire more administrators to figure out how to spend the money they no longer have because they're paying a shitload more useless administrators.

I don't know anyone who knows what the hell Measure 49 is about, really. But if there's the slightest chance it can stop the Californication of Clatsop County, I'm all for it.

Too bad we can't bypass the sell-out commissioners and have the citizens vote on LNG. Now that would be interesting.

Speaking of LNG, I hear through the grapevine that someone has defaced a Bradwood Landing sign between Svensen and Knappa. I'm certainly not in favor of defacing property, but I am wondering if perhaps it's a sign that a whole new element of the population is waking up to the ugly threat LNG poses.

I've already turned in my ballot. Now comes the waiting.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blown Away

Today I had the misguided notion that vending for a visiting cruise ship on the dock at the good old Port of Astoria at the Never on Sunday Market, part of the Astoria Sunday Market, would be a grand idea. The next time I get an idea involving the port and cruise ships I will slap myself.

I got there around 8 a.m., and everything was just peachy. The ship wasn't there yet, and I unloaded my car, and started to get set up. Then I noticed that I was losing feeling in my toes from the cold ... and that I was ravenously hungry.

So I rushed home, got on some serious warm boots, grabbed an umbrella and raincoat (just in case ... my mother used to say to always bring an umbrella, it would keep away the rain), ran to Mucky D's for an artery-annihilating breakfast, and got back to the pier just as the ship was nudging her way in.

I finished setting up in a jiffy. Everything was cool. Everything was fine. I was looking forward to some serious people-watching, which is a big part of vending at the cruise-ships. I settled into my chair and waited and watched.

Right around noon, the wind suddenly freshened. About 10 minutes later, it hit about 20 knots in gusts. Another 10 minutes later, it was 20 knots normally, and 40 knots in gusts.

I don't know if anyone reading this has ever sat in a 10x10 foot tent trying to protect your merchandise and at the same time keep your tent from vaulting into the river ... but let it be known that there are not enough arms and legs on the human body to keep the tent from trying to take off, and your merchandise from blowing away or being destroyed.

Every 20 minutes or so, I'd hear a crash. Which meant some vendor's goods were being destroyed. There were several crashes in my tent, too. Then it started to rain. The wind blew the rain directly into my tent, which I was already holding down, as the tent started to "walk."

I grabbed more bungee cords, and strapped the tent-frame down even harder. Finally, I had to treat the tent like a sailboat, and reef the side panels, hoping to minimize the surface the wind could hit.

Needless to say, this kind of weather is not exactly conducive to sales.

For the privilege of getting blown to bits, chilled to the marrow, and having merchandise damaged and rained upon, I paid $35. I grossed $80. Nope, it ain't worth it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Tonight I was cooking sig-other an egg and sausage omelet, and started thinking about eggs, of all things. How simple, how elegantly shaped, how potentially tasty.

I remember that the very first thing I cooked all by myself, at the age of 6, was a sunny-side up egg in a cast-iron frying pan, on a cast iron stove whose temperature varied with the wind currents that blew down the chimney. My parents were across the little back bay having cocktails with the neighbors, and I called them on the phone to tell them of my grand accomplishment, which left them flummoxed. I wouldn't eat the damn thing, and my mother ate it when she got home.

When I was in my 20's, and newly married, and dirt poor (I think those two things must go together), all I could afford in the protein department, aside from the occasional 1/4 pound of fatty beef to feed the both of us, was eggs. I got them from the farmer down the road. They were 10 cents a dozen, they still had feathers and chicken-shit on them, and you had to bring the carton back to buy more eggs ... unless you brought a bowl.

I made two loaves of bread twice a week with the yolks, and meringues with the whites, and every cheap egg concoction the Fanny Farmer Cookbook could come up with.

I remember putting pin-holes on either end of an egg, blowing out the contents into a bowl, and decorating the eggs to use as Christmas ornaments. And cooking up the eggs themselves in veggie omelets. Waste not, want not, etc.

Years later, I made my first (and only) souffle in the oven of a stove I got for $10. Couldn't make one before that because I couldn't afford the cheese. Nobody was allowed to move, and I remember sitting by the kitchen door with my feet up, several beers at hand, guarding the kitchen floor from anyone walking on it. The souffle was perfect, but boring tasting (cheesy clouds), and I didn't know what the hell to do with it. I think I gave it to the dog.

Then there were the egg-terror years, where eggs were pariahs. I didn't care, I ate 'em anyway. So did my parents, every damn day, and they lived to be 85 and 91.

Now there are those silly ad for eggs that are supposedly better than other eggs. I mean, what? Do their chickens have platinum butts or something?

Oh well, in my dotage, I still love eggs, and still don't give a crap about cholesterol. I just need to find more creative ways to cook them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What, no LUBA?

Maybe there really is a tooth fairy. Because about now, maybe that's all that can save us from the Astoria City Council (who wants to let in view-blocking condos on Astoria's waterfront in a major good-old-boy coup) and the Clatsop County Planning Commission (who wants to let LNG onto the Columbia River despite common sense and their own staff's recommendations against it).

Wait a minute. How come these people don't have to answer to the voters who put their comfy butts into office? Don't know the answer to that one, except that perhaps a recall is in order.

Okay, that's a fine idea, but the damage is already done. The pathway is already paved in dollar signs for LNG tanks to be built in Bradwood and for condos to be built on the waterfront.

So my next question is ... Has anyone filed an appeal about either one of these demented decisions by local politicians with the Land Use Board of Appeals before the time limit expires??

I understand one group said that it was "too soon" to file an appeal. Ummm, well then, does that mean it's better to file when it's too late?

Ass kissing and dollar signs.

It works in big towns, and better yet in small ones. The "Welcome to Clatsop County, bend over" signs should start appearing shortly.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hospital Dazed

This rube has had enough. I'm too busy tending to sig-other to keep up the dialogue the original post caused. Now that the VA doc has run off to Seaside, I don't know what the options are. And right now, I'm too tired to care.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Ruminations on Ruination

Just as summer was tentatively getting under way with balmy summer days, it's over. That's if you're like most people, including me, who consider Labor Day to be the pre-solstice official start of Fall.

When I was a kid, Labor Day was the day we got our town back. The fife and drum corps would march up and down the streets merrily fifing and drumming, then go out on a boat with a stout keg of beer and fife and drum their way around the islands, most likely in celebration of the departure of the "islanders."

The "islanders" were "summer people," who were all from nearby inland cities or Manhattan, and they would invade us "townies," beginning every Memorial Day to "camp out" on the islands they bought just off-shore.

The husbands would commute to Manhattan on the local train for the week while their wives and children stayed out on the islands. Their gaudy Cadillacs with enormous fins took up two parking spaces in the already cramped town, and their expensive inboard and outboard boats made an annoying racket all day.

On the islands, they had no running water, no electricity, and their outhouses dumped directly into the water, causing unpleasant tidbits to wash ashore at most inopportune times. The dog crap just went directly into the water without the pretense of an outhouse. They would take all of their bottles and cans out in a boat, fill them, and sink them in the water just off-shore.

In the 1960's, the "islanders" started putting ear-splitting generators on the islands so they could have electricity. The only good part of all this "progress" was that they started putting in septic tanks in the grass lawns where they could (most of the islands were solid granite).

So it was with a great sigh of relief that we celebrated Labor Day each year. The income from the "foreigners" kept the town going through the bitterly cold winter months, but we always wondered if it was worth it.

And you know what? It wasn't.

Now the town is owned by the children, grandchildren and friends of those "islanders." The original island houses, once built by Victorian craftsmen who built them in the winter by going out there over the ice on ox-carts, are mostly all gone. In their place are modern glass and steel structures. Islands that cost $20K to $50K in the 1950's now go for from $3 to $20 million.

The invaders also bought up the homes of the fishermen and oystermen, tore them down, and without a care in the world for their neighbors, put up three-story 5,000 square foot view-hoggers. They bought up the small stores and tore them down, too, and built more multi-level monstrosities in their place. (Is this starting to sound familiar, Astoria?)

The little town club-restaurant, on a granite shelf overlooking the harbor, and with a jaw-dropping view of the islands and sunsets, was where the few "locals" who were left used to meet and greet each other. The business fell on some hard times, and the locals were working together to get financing to buy it.

A New York couple with money to burn came in and way over-bid the asking price. They got it, tore down the clubhouse, and built an enormous private residence with an 8' high fence around it. They just had to make sure they had that view all to themselves. (By now, this should really be starting to ring a bell, people.)

The marshes have been filled in so palaces on stilts could be built on them. The woods, once privately owned, but open for all to use, have been sold and sub-divided, and the whole woods are off-limits now to all but the very privileged few who coughed up millions to build there.

Property taxes, even as short at time ago as 1998 were reasonable. But once the town hall realized that all the new residents had pockets even deeper than the seemingly bottomless granite quarries, they decided to tax by the waterfront foot.

An example: Taxes that were $1,200 a year in 1998 for a 2,000 square foot house on the shoreline jumped to $9K a year in 1999. And there is a lot of waterfront footage there, as the place is full of peninsulas. I would not even dare speculate what the taxes on that same house must be now, but last I heard, in about 2002, that same chunk of property generated $12K a year in tax revenue for the local stiffs at town hall.

The point of the property tax increases now isn't even greed any more. It never was to provide services, as the town has none to speak of. It is to keep people OUT. And just take a wild guess at who all those town hall folks are now? Hint: They aren't locals. I don't know of one single family that lived there when I was a child that has a relative living there now. They have all been bought out or driven out by the punishing cost of property taxes.

The town is gone. In its place is a travesty of what once was.

This is a true story, and should be taken as a cautionary tale for what's going to become of Astoria. The proposed condos are the beginning of the end. Take it from someone who's seen their home town shamelessly destroyed by greed.

Wake up, Astoria. Stop it while you can.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stickin' it to the Hicks

Just when I thought there was a chance that the majority of the Clatsop County planning commissioners might forsake being dodos ...

After reading today's article in The Daily Astorian about the commission's preliminary approval of NorthernStar's Bradwood Landing LNG plans, any hope of the majority of them having anything more than a "geranium in the cranium" became moot.

Worse yet, the dodos have morphed into ostriches. They have planted their thoughtless little heads firmly up their asses. Is it possible they were forward-thinking enough to realize there won't be any decent ground left in Clifton or Bradwood to bury their heads in once LNG moves in?

However ... thanks and appreciation should be bestowed on the three commissioners who showed common sense and care for the future of the river, its surrounding communities, and future generations. It is regretful they are outnumbered by morons.

I digress. Has anyone thought about why the sudden change of heart for those who recklessly approved moving forward with this project? It's so fishy the salmon would hold their noses if they could. Yet they must simply be naive rubes. Nobody wants to think their palms have been crossed with silver.

Some otherwise sensible people think LNG is going to be a good thing. Have they ever been to Clifton? Putting an LNG facility in there is like hawking a big one, and spitting it smack in Mother Nature's face.

Right now, those big ol' corporate stiffs at NorthernStar must be shooting their cuffs and laughing their asses off about how well they're progressing on the "Stickin' it to the Hicks" project.

It's more than embarrasing. It's a fucking shame.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Fly in My Eye

Okay, okay, it's summer, and I'm feeding my lighthouse obsession before the monsoons and typhoons make that indulgence un-doable. And I had family visiting, so under the guise of Oregon Coast sight-seeing, I dragged said family down to Newport purportedly to see the aquarium.

I will confess that at five hours into the trip, after I had stopped at every vista imaginable, and taken photos of my granddaughter with a large and zaftic plaster-of-Paris mermaid somewhere in Lincoln City (she's a fool for mermaids), the troops were getting restless.

Only one more stop before the aquarium, I assured them: Yaquina Head Lighthouse. They know me well enough to realize I could not be deterred from a lighthouse mission, so they submitted gracefully to yet another side-trip.

I don't know what the hell was going on. Was there a some kind of tidal pull? A full moon? The place was literally swarming with tourists. Was the queen bee lighthouse sending out some kind of siren call to tourist drones? And it was a Tuesday, for chrissakes.

Anyway, we all trudged up to the lighthouse from the absolute furthest spot in the parking lot (the only spot I could get, right next to the crappers), wondering why all the people around the lighthouse were waving. Who were they waving to?

They weren't waving at anything. They were waving off flies. Hordes, masses and squadrons of black flies. The kids sensibly fled out of the fly zone. I was not as sensible. I wanted to go up into the lighthouse.

I got inside, and discovered to my dismay that the place was not only full of tourists, it was full of those same relentless goddam flies. The docent, hair awry and wearing some sort of Colonial-looking costume, was vainly trying to hang up something akin to mosquito netting over the front door. Leaving us trapped inside with some very aggressive flies.

She tugged wisps of hair back off her face, addressed those of us waiting to climb the stairs (yes, there was a line, of all things), and said, "Normally I would never let anyone touch the paint. But if you see a fly..." and she took a rolled up magazine and whomped the wall where about 10 of them had landed.

This was followed by an explanation of the insect invasion, which involved murres, and guano. It was something along the line of the murres not being there this time of year, and the flies feed on the guano, so they're just flying around looking for food ... and oh no, they don't bite humans.

Really? Then who the hell was that nibbling on my ankle? After the ankle-tasting, I was outta there. Enough already. I will go back again some other day, when the flies have their guano to snack on, and the tourists have all found someplace else to swarm.

Anyway, a comment on my Terrible Tilly post made me think about decommissioned lighthouses for sale. Most are located in notoriously desolate spots that might well prove to be depressing to live in; I remember one lighthouse back East where the USCG had to start manning it with two or more people to try to defuse the overwhelming feelings of isolation sole lighthouse keepers were experiencing.

But if anyone out there really really needs to own a lighthouse, check out the Lighthouse Program link on the U.S. General Services Administration website: GSA

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Terrible Tilly

I am a fool for lighthouses. Naturally, I enjoy living in the Pacific Northwest, where there are so many of them. The one that intrigues me the most is Terrible Tilly, aka the Tillamook Head Lighthouse.

It has a gruesome and dramatic history (Tilly's history), and even though it's no longer an active lighthouse it still stands sentinel off Cannon Beach. I'm a little weirded out that it's now a columbarium (lovely name for "dump your ashes here"), as I can't help but wonder who the peculiar individual was who came up with that plan. Just in case you want to park your ashes there, check it out here:

Eternity at Sea

Anyway, I digress. I really wanted to see Terrible Tilly from as close an angle as possible, which would involve hiking. I should preface that statement by saying I do not have an athletic or outdoorsy-type bone in my body.

I was always incredibly relieved that I was the last to be chosen for any team at school, hoping I could spend my time on the bench reading, and my idea of camping out is a hotel that doesn't have a fridge in the room.

Nonetheless, I suddenly got this urge to climb up this wretchedly narrow forest path with sheer drop-offs to one side to get a good look at old Tilly. Wearing my plastic Payless sandals, no less.

The higher I climbed, and the deeper into the forest I went, the more determined I became. Even though I was hearing lilting running stream sounds, not ocean sounds, which made me doubt the sanity of my climb, I kept trudging.

Finally, I rounded a bend in the forest, and could hear booming ocean noises. Aha! Then there was a sign warning of cliffs, and falling rocks, and all of the things that I would not be within a mile (or ten) of in my normal state of mind. In my lunacy, all I could think of was that I must be close to the view I was seeking.

Then I rounded a corner at the top near some gawd-awful cliff-edge (fortunately, the view down was obscured by trees at that point), and I could see straight out. There were clouds, and sunlight, and sea, and yes, at last, the amazing and majestic Terrible Tilly.

That view was worth every gasp and blister it took to get up that hill.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bodies Unworldly

Today we trundled out of Astoria off to Portland to see the Body Worlds 3 exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Bizarre doesn't begin to cover rooms full of flayed corpses posed in peculiar positions. The ballerina above was not in this particular exhibit.

With all the blathering about the "plastination" process throughout the exhibit, you tend to think it's all just plastic, as nothing looks like it was formerly flesh until you look closely. Several of the specimens seemed to be from elderly men, judging from the ear hair and white eyelashes, who now look young again minus their slipcovers.

Also throughout the exhibit are mentions of the 6,000 "volunteers" who donated their bodies to be plastinated, and not-to-subtle requests for more donors. All of which comes under the "yikes!" chapter in my book. Not to mention, even though the theory is that you will be preserved forever, I can't help but think that if I did it, I'd wind up in a dank broom closet somewhere when they find a new and better process. Not a happy thought.

The creator of this art(?), artifice(?) is Dr. Gunther von Hagens, a rather ghoulish-looking character who, in a film that projects on a back wall, wears a large black hat and blue scrubs while in the process of "plastinating" corpses. He's creepy enough to scare the bejesus out of children and small dogs, and a large poster of him grinning looms over the exhibit, giving the place a cheery death-camp ambiance.

Here's a little info from a website about the plastination process:
• Plastination, invented by Dr. Gunther von Hagens in 1977, is a vacuum process whereby the body’s water and fat are replaced with reactive plastics that are initially pliable and then harden when cured with light, heat or gas. All tissue structures are retained.
• Unlike plastic models, plastinated specimens are intricate, REAL displays of human anatomy.
• It takes an average of 1,500 hours to transform a cadaver into a full-body plastinate.
• Plastinated specimens are dry and odorless and retain their natural structure – in fact, they are identical to their pre-preservation state down to the microscopic level.
• "Slice plastination" is a special variation of this preservation technique. Frozen body specimens are cut into slices which are then plastinated. Plastinated organs and body slices are a useful teaching aid for cross-sectional anatomy which is gaining importance in medical communities.

There were many glass cases with plastinated organs and bones, and somehow that was a little easier to take than the displays where the organs were sitting primly in the body cavities or balanced on a hand.

A flattened and sliced obese man (like doing a cross-section of a tree) provided a strange specimen. The internal organs were all squished, and apparently he died of a heart attack.

The piece de resistance was a camel posed with a baby camel. It has quite the trompe d'oeil effect as you round a corner and boom! There it is.

Most people also seemed quite intrigued by the clean lungs next to the cancer-eaten lungs. Nearby was a looped video of Yul Brynner, who died of lung cancer more than 20 years ago, telling people not to smoke. Next to the screen with his image was a plastic box for people to throw their cigarettes in and "take the pledge."

All in all, a very fascinating exhibit, but I was disappointed that some of the figures I had read about or seen photos of were not on display. Even so, it was worth the trip.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Ah, the Astoria Regatta. Normally a fun kinda thing, lots going on, parade, etc.

A few years ago the center of it all was that little stretch of Duane by the Moose Club. I had my vending tent there, as did several others, and we covered both sides of Duane. The parade marched right by, so close you could touch them. My granddaughter was only one at the time, and she was in her stroller just inside the tent, her eyes agog.

It was a fun, relaxed street-festival atmosphere. Post-parade, the bands performed in the street by the Moose Club, which was holding an open house for the weekend, and there were food vendors. The Bowpicker must have cleaned up that weekend - there was always a line in front of the place. The festivities were close to the Maritime Museum, so there was a steady flow back and forth between the street and the museum. It a very nice event that had a small-town cozy feel to it.

Then last year, the regatta committee started feeling a little greedy, so they decided to fence in the Safeway square for the vendors, bands, and beer, and charge admission. Think it was only a buck or two. People winced, but some coughed it up and came in. Not enough to give the vendors much business, though. I mean, who's going to pay to go in and shop when they can see the same vendors on Sunday for free at the Sunday Market?

This year, they raised the fee for vendors, and I decided I wouldn't go through the whole ordeal of setting up my tent in the little fenced-in area. Besides, I knew I would be having company, and preferred to spend the time with them.

Bomb threat be damned, we all set out this morning to see the parade, which the regatta committee has not managed to fuck up yet, and parked ourselves on Duane Street just outside the fenced-in regatta area. A pal of mine, who is a vendor, came out to talk to me. She was pissed. Seriously teeth-gnashing pissed.

It seems the greedy bug bit the regatta committee pretty hard this year. They were charging $5 to come into the fenced area. So nobody was in there but the vendors, who had paid from $50 to $75 to be there, and were in a state of uproar.

My pal told me she was going to fold up her tent and get the hell out of there as soon as the parade was over, and was going to demand her money back. She thought several other vendors were going to do the same.

Needless to say, the vendors had not been told about the admission fee. Kinda like when the Sunday Market managers don't tell vendors at the cruise ships about the passengers being Canadian, and only allowed to spend $50 in the U.S.

Anyway, I was going to take my guests to the regatta festivities tonight until I heard about the $5 per person to get in and the short-pours on the over-priced beer. Forget it.

And where were the gill-net boat races? They advertised them last year, and this year, and nope, no races either year. Heard there was some grumbling on the part of the gill-net boat owners, but don't know exactly what the grumbling was about. The last time they raced was 2005, and it was marvelous to watch them. Another fun part of the regatta, gone.

Too bad the greedy bug ruined what was once a fun event.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Go Fly a Kite

When I was little, I don't even remember learning how to swim. I've seen photos of me at about one year old on my belly at the tide line just splashing and grinning.

But I lived on the East Coast, in an estuary area, so there were no crashing waves or rip-tides to contend with - the tide went in and out gently and smoothly. Everything had that lovely salty smell, and the water was so quiet you could hear the seaweed snapping and popping on the seawall at low tide.

I grew up with an abiding love for the beach, and for salt water. My mother told me, from as early as I can remember, that I would never be able to live away from the sea and be happy. If I did go away, I would have no control over the compulsion to return. I thought she was nuts. Of course, it was one of the very few things she was actually right about.

Well, I did go away, and I moved to a very large and inland city. I raised my son there, and he never had the experiences I did with the sea. He had an abject terror of the water, and when I would take him out for a simple rowboat ride at my parents' house he would clutch the gunnels and white-knuckle it every minute even though he was trussed up in an excellent life-jacket and I was an excellent swimmer.

So when he and his wife produced a lovely grandbaby, I was not hopeful that she would share my love of the sea. They still live in that large city he was brought up in, and I'm at last back by the sea. Sure her other grandmother has a pool, and my granddaughter loves it, but that's a completely different experience.

They are here visiting, and at 3 years old, my granddaughter is old enough to really absorb the sights and sounds she's experiencing here. We took her up to Long Beach, and my daughter-in-law had a sudden urge to fly a kite. Lovely idea, so we went and bought one. We opened the car doors, and at first my granddaughter was frightened by the roaring sound of the sea.

Soon, she was distracted by the sights of the seagulls, which she pointed at swooping by and inexplicably exclaimed, "Doggies!" We got that sorted out while she pretended to listen and discovered her bucket and shovel, and how well they work with sand.

Her mother walked further down the beach to fly the kite, and by then, my granddaughter was dancing and pirhouetting in the sand being a "barrerina," holding the kite, running after it pointing and shrieking with delight when her mother or father held it, and chasing her shadow whenever she noticed it. It gave me a huge amount of pleasure to see her enjoy the sand and sea as I did as a child. I grin just thinking about it.

Since the waters here are dangerous, unlike the waters I was brought up in, we have to stay above the tide-line. But I'm delighted she's getting some sand/sea/sky experience. It gives us an important bond we would otherwise not have. I hope she remembers it as well as I will.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Schlepping and Small Town Politics

This weekend entailed a great deal of schlepping. I don't know if anyone out there has any idea what it's like to lug around and set up a 10x10 tent, then stuff it full of your wares to sell, but let me assure you, a picnic it ain't.

Saturday, I was at the Covered Bridge Celebration, an event I normally enjoy doing. It's in a nice field by the covered bridge in Grays River, Wash. There are two huge trees in the middle of the "courtyard," providing lots of shade for those who want to lounge around and listen to the music or just relax. Last year there were antique car races, and tractor races, which were a total howl, and really added to the character of the event.

Well, there I sat, after setting up the tent on dirt (what can only be called) tussocks. Wrestling the tent into submission, and almost losing, would be more accurate. The "parade" came through the covered bridge and onto the field. I would have missed it entirely if not for the noise of the tractors, as there was no band.

I waited in vain for the promised Model T races and the tractor races. No sign of either one. It was all very quiet and puzzling. Too quiet. Bands played on a little stage, everyone ignored them. All in all, it was a strange vibe, not to mention a weird sales day.

The next day I was slated to do the Sunday Market. What the hell is happening there? There are fewer and fewer vendors every time I go. Could it be they are wising up? The tents are all moved around, using two tents to fill three spaces. The vendors I've spoken to are not happy campers.

Oh I know, you hear all of these vendors praising the market to the skies, and read their letters to the editor saying everything is just Pollyanna peachy, but guess what - they are in the minority, not the majority.

Most vendors will not speak out publicly because they fear retaliation. So we huddle and chat amongst ourselves. The fact of the matter is that there is no vendor input in the market. It is a fiefdom run by the Comperes, and they do not answer to anyone except their board of directors, who let them do anything they want.

I hear of differing rates of pay, but the minimum they receive is $71K for managing the market per year. Which is insane. Hell, I'll do it for $30K. But apparently money isn't an issue for the political "in" crowd.

The vendors who still are actually showing up are desultory. I'm usually fairly cheerful, but even I was feeling depressed because they put me right next to someone who was selling damn near the same thing as I was. I mean, what's with that? It's just thoughtless, and, dare I say it? Disrespectful. To me as a vendor, and to the other vendor, as well.

The most interesting thing that happened on Sunday was that I got an explanation of the quietude at the covered bridge celebration from a Grays River local. It seems that the guys who race the old Model T's and the tractors have a bone to pick with the bridge preservation group, who run the event, and who have become a power to reckon with in the town. Apparently the group has stepped on toes, and the drivers were boycotting to express their displeasure.

We hapless vendors get caught unwittingly in the small town political hornets' nests. The only thing you can do is duck, run and hope to hell they don't swarm.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Gone But Not Forgotten

Today, as I was hanging around in one of my favorite watering holes here in Astoria, the topic of the World Trade Center came up. My pal remembered that the last time he'd seen it, it was in the process of being built.

That was the last time I saw it, too. I was on the Staten Island Ferry, doing the cheapo/best tour of New York once again that afternoon. As I recall, I was pretty upset because the fare had either already gone up from a nickel to a quarter, or was about to go up. Actually, I think all of New York was horrified at the fare increase from the traditional nickel. Incredibly, now it's actually free. Yes, really. Staten Island Ferry

Anyway, I was on the ferry getting my adrenalin-rush late afternoon view of lower Manhattan, which is the most amazing city-scape ever. I was at the stern of the boat, looking back at the city, studying the World Trade Center, which at that point was about 75 stories high, and grimacing at the huge cranes that were on top of the structure.

I really wanted to see the building when it was completed, and go up to the top to see the spectacular views. It probably would have taken heavy sedation of one form or another to get me up there, though, as even the Empire State Building elevators gave me a serious case of the flim-flams. I just assumed those buildings would always be there, and I could get back to go to the top someday in the future. Well, we all know what happened to that idea.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about what an amazing pair of buildings the World Trade Center was, and about the construction of it. So I did a little research on the subject, and found an 18 minute documentary made in 1983. You can see it at:
Building the World Trade Center

I don't think I'll ever get over the destruction of the WTC. "Never forget" indeed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New Kids in Town

Since my last post about the "guest" who is living under a nearby stoop, which I thought was an anomaly, I find that he is actually part of a trend.

Today I was walking down 11th Street, and there was another homeless guy squatting in a doorway, drinking coffee. Another scruffy guy appeared and joined him.

Across the street, in front of the coffee shop, a third hobo was sitting on the curb next to his knapsack.

I drove around a bit later on, and saw several more obviously homeless people wandering aimlessly around town or sitting in strange places staring into space. While at a stop sign with the window rolled down, one was overheard saying to another, "Let's go find a back yard to sleep in tonight."

When I first moved here, one of the things that impressed me was how clean the city is compared to where I was living. The other thing that struck me was that there were no homeless people. Except Motorcycle Steve, who wanders around in his motorcycle helmet with his shopping cart, and who isn't technically homeless, from what I gather. Besides, he's a known quantity, harmless, and a local fixture.

So what is going on? Since when has Astoria become a mecca for the homeless? Where I lived before, the place was rife with the homeless; some were harmless, some not so harmless, and some completely demented and downright dangerous. Many didn't want any part of the shelters because they couldn't drink and drug there.

You rarely walked about in the daytime, and never at night, because there were just too many crazies, not to mention gang members, out and about. You drove around with your doors locked at all times.

With this sudden influx of homeless people, call me silly, call me an alarmist, but I don't feel safe here any more.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Ah, the dilemma.

The other afternoon I was walking in town, and I came to some stairs that are a popular shortcut. The stairs are steep and pass through a small spat of woods, so it's a little darkish on the stairs even in broad daylight. I don't think I've ever even met another person on the stairs at the same time as me.

As I started down the stairs I noticed there were two bearded men sitting near the bottom of the flight, both of them on the same step, effectively blocking the stairway. They were drinking beer and talking softly. Battered knapsacks were on the ground nearby.

They let me pass with no problem, but I still felt a little strange. It was one of those "there's something just not right here" things that make your hackles rise a bit. It bothered me enough to remember it.

A few days later, I came down those same steps, this time early in the morning. No one was there, but a flash of movement caught my eye under the stoop of a building close to the bottom of the stairs. I walked by gingerly, trying to look without appearing to look. Someone was under the stoop, sleeping on a wad of plastic bags. I'd seen a flash of whitish T-shirt. If my eye hadn't caught that movement, I would never have noticed him. It's a tight spot, and dark under there.

That alarmed me a bit, but I thought okay, he's just trying to get a night's sleep and he has no home. Forget it.

A few more days passed, and once again, early in the morning, I happened on those stairs. This time there was a 16 oz. beer can sitting right in the middle of one of the steps. Since I had a pretty good idea where to look for the can's owner, I walked by the building near the stairs and glanced under the stoop. There was no movement, but there was definitely someone sleeping under there.

Okay, so here's the dilemma. Leave the situation alone? I'm not convinced that's a good plan. There are a lot of children around the area, and I have no way of knowing if this guy is harmless or not. Sure, he may well be. But then again, he may well not be. And I don't intend to find out first-hand.

Call the owner of the building and tell him he's got a stoop-squatter? That's one possibility.

Or, call the cops and tell them about it? I've been hearing that there has been a mini-onslaught of homeless people in Astoria of late, and the police are often called to deal with them. I don't know if that's a great solution, either. It's a no-win situation all the way around.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Shark Week's 20th anniversary starts July 29, and there are all kinds of programs about sharks planned on the Discovery Channel, including a documentary about what is considered the worst shark attack ever, after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. As I recall, that incident is mentioned in one of the best shark movies, ever, "Jaws."

Although I am fascinated by sharks, my own personal experience with them is rather limited. I've seen and caught small sand sharks (dogfish), and marveled at their sandpapery skin and beautiful lines before throwing them back.

I've only seen one fin pop up in the water, and it was a large sand shark that was probably very lost. A totally non-aggressive type of shark, it had probably followed a school of bluefish into the waters where I saw it.

The local fishermen were all out of the immediate area in their boats, so the only person available to "defend the town" was a local gardener, Galliano. He loped down the lawn towards the water, yelling about the "gotta-damma fish," hopped into a dory with his gun, and putt-putted out to the offending fin. Then he took pot-shots at the poor thing, screaming at it in Italian the whole time. Galliano probably scared the bejesus out of the shark, and I hope it made it back into the deeper waters unscathed.

It was certainly the most excitement the gardener had seen since the last time my dog dug up and pissed on his dahlias. I suspect Galliano's dying words words, gasped on his last breath, included "that gotta-damma dog!"

The only other close-up shark experience I had was with a huge dead tiger shark that floated into a small bay. It was completely in the wrong waters, and no one could imagine how it wound up where it did. Although it had decomposed enough to smell totally gawd-awful, it was still in beautiful condition, and its size and teeth were very impressive. I have never heard of another shark of that type or size appearing in that area, alive or dead.

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by sharks. Maybe it's their cold indifference. Or maybe it's their beautiful, functional lines. Or maybe it's because they are a primeval vestige from ages past. Whatever the reason, I know I'll be glued to the Discovery channel next week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I am really not a perky soft-edged person. Actually, I lean towards dour and cynical.

But this morning, while walking to work, I couldn't help but just feel a big gooshy whooosh of gratefulness, an emotion I do not acknowledge often enough.

Just leaving the house, and in the action of locking the door, I thought about how lucky I am to have a house. It isn't in the greatest shape, but it's mine (and the bank's).

My dogs and "inside cats" are delighted to see me each morning no matter how frightening I look. The "outside cats" who have adopted me lounge around waiting for a morning scratch, and I'm not sure who's luckier to have whom. I look forward to seeing them around, and have come to depend on their greetings.

As I started walking, I noticed a few morning glory flowers out of the corner of my eye. They were very bright white, and happily trumpeting in the raspberry bushes. I know, I know, it's an invasive weed. In that moment, though, the plant lived up to the glory part of its name.

I thought about all the yummy raspberries, which will be ripe soon, and are so close to home and easy to pick.

And who wouldn't be totally knocked out by rounding a corner and seeing the majestic Columbia River. I've never been a river person, but this one is impressive. And those hills across the river in Washington are another imposing, yet soothing sight.

I love looking at the houses as I walk along, seeing all the details that you can't see when driving ... like the front of a house that looks so grand, but the sides, not easily visible, peeling and unpainted. All the interesting little things people put in their windows catch the eye on foot, too.

And, I was grateful to have a job to walk to. It's not a high-paying job, but it's one of the few I've had in my life that I actually enjoy, and look forward to going to.

It's been a long, hard journey to get to this place and time, and I'm glad I made it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No Smokin'

I gave up smoking a while ago. Again. And it is a misery.

I try to tell myself how noble I am, and how good it is for me, but it doesn't seem to help much. I don't know why it's such a terrible addiction, or how it gets hold of you so badly, but it's certainly hard to shake.

No hypnotism, no tranquilizers, no nicotine gum or patches; I just stopped one day. I figured the worst part is getting up in the morning and having that first cigarette - it sets a pattern for the day. So one day I got up and didn't have that first cigarette. Later, I started chewing gum before I started gnawing on a table or shredding curtains.

The minutes and hours that crawled by turned into days, weeks, months. And I still have odd moments when, for no particular reason, just out of the blue, I absolutely crave a cigarette. Those moments are hard to resist, but so far, so good. Believe it or not, it helps to keep some upstairs in a freezer just in case; not that I intend to smoke them - they are my safety net, as it were.

Now I have such vivid dreams about smoking at least I'm enjoying a few nice cigs in the dead of night deep in my head.

Maybe someday I'll stop eating everything in sight. But it doesn't look promising. Guess it's true, you get rid of one addiction, and you replace it with another.

At least, as far as I know, popcorn doesn't cause lung cancer, although the medical community is bound find something lethal there, too, sooner or later.

But I'm not giving up popcorn, hell or high water.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Over the Bounding Main

After reading The Guy Who Writes This' blog about sailing today on Astoria Rust I had an extreme nostalgia attack about the summers of my mis-spent youth.

My parents were sailors. I mean, they were insane, obsessed, and lived and died for sailing. Personally, I never saw the joy in zig-zagging to get somewhere, much less being at the mercy of winds and tides, when you could sensibly putt-putt somewhere in a straight line.

However, despite my objections, sailing instructions began at the age of 7 in a small boat with a squared-off bow. It was bigger than a dory at 12 feet, but a hell of a lot heavier and less useful. The sails were canvas, and a pain in the ass. After every sail, they had to be hauled out of the boat and onto the lawn, hosed off, and left to dry in the sun.

I spent ruthless, and seeming endless, hours learning to trim the one sail to the wind, raise and lower the centerboard as needed, tack, learn the currents and tides, and land smoothly at the dock with a "ready about" instead of crashing head-on into said dock.

Then there were the hours spent in the water, in my bathing suit, scrubbing seaweed and barnacles off the bottom of the boat. Learning to tie bowlines (no, I never did get it right), and other knots (no, I don't remember them now).

If friends invited me over, and they happened to live on an island, I had to figure out how the hell to get there even if the wind and tide were against me. Sometimes it meant rowing. And then, how the hell to get home, although sometimes I could get a tow, or was lucky enough to be able to sail down wind right home.

I also spent many hours crewing on sailboats in the Sunday morning races (at my parents' insistence), always as mate to some friend's brother, who was always some adolescent hyper-testosteroned Captain Bligh-in-the-making who knew less about sailing than I did.

I will add, with more than a dash of unseemly malice, that I was delighted one Sunday morning when I was not forced to crew (thereby forestalling a mutiny) because the mini-Bligh of the week had poured an entire cup of boiling coffee on his nether regions.

The most pleasant times I had sailing were with a couple who had absolutely no idea how to sail, and who didn't care in the least. They had an old wooden Lightening sailboat, and they would pack up their 3 kids, and me (the babysitter), and we would go out for a sailing picnic. There would be paper-thin sliced Genoa salami, crispy crusty French bread, Brie and Camembert cheese (ripened to perfection), red wine for us, and juice for the kids.

Winters were spent stripping the boat, sanding, caulking, repainting the boat and its duck-boards, and varnishing, varnishing , varnishing while the boat stood on saw-horses in the basement. Rolling it back out in the spring, with the help of several neighbors, getting it into the water at a good high tide, stepping the heavy wooden mast - all the spring rituals.

I haven't sailed for more than 30 years, although I sometimes dream about it. My parents sailed until they just couldn't any more. My mother quit in her mid-70s when it was too hard to navigate the rocks on the dock to get to the boat. My father quit in his mid-80s when he got lost one day sailing behind the house, and got so befouled he wound up in the drink, utterly confused. Some islanders rescued him, brought him home, and towed the boat back to our dock.

The boat was put up that winter, pushed on rollers up to the cubby-hole under the house, and was never put in the water again.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Diggin' It

Astoria's underground is something that totally intrigues me. I would love to get in there and have a look around, but every obvious and visible entry has been blocked with gates and padlocks. The stores that had trap-doors to the underground have covered them to protect themselves from burglary. Seems like the new owners of the buildings don't know where the entries are or are totally and blithely unaware there even is an Astoria underground.

On the way to the public bathrooms on Exchange Street, I keep peeking down while at the corner of Exchange and 12th Street just before the Clark Gable plaque. At ground level, there are locked gates at the southwest corner of the hospice. They cover what was clearly an entryway to the underground. I went around and down to ground level by the hospice, and there are gates at the northwest end of the building, too. I only wish I had a flashlight with me so I could have peeked in and seen more.

From there, I walked across the lot over to the ramp off 13th Street that goes down into that lot. If you go way up under the ramp, it looks like it might still be an entryway there. There are boards over it, and it would be a crawlway, but I did not get close enough to check the boards out to see how loose they are. I'm inclined to think it's an entrance, though, because I saw a backpack tucked out of plain sight under the ramp, and several beer bottles.

I heard a rumor in a local tavern that runaway kids are hiding out under Astoria. When I questioned the lady who was talking, she said her son knows the way in, and goes in there regularly just for the hell of it. I went where she told me, and yup, a person could definitely get in there, but not easily.

At that point, my common sense got the better of me, and I didn't go in. And I don't think I would, by myself, anyway. It's probably pretty dangerous under there, but that only adds to the allure. Maybe I just have an unhealthy fascination for worlds lost, underground, or out of use.

There's a fascinating web site about people who take this obsession to the extreme, i.e. breaking in to abandoned places/tunnels and photographing them as a record that they've been there. They call themselves "urban explorers," or "urban spelunkers," and one of their more skin-crawly sites is Dark Passage, which has a plethora of sub-sites and links.

Wonder if they'd be interested in checking out Astoria ...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Whining in the Rain

I like rain as much as the next person. Okay, I'll even go as far as to say I like it better than the next person, and the one after that, too.

But one of the things that makes me appreciate it so much is the lack of it (normally) during the summer. I start whining in May, and spend all of June, July, August and September kvetching about the sun and the brightness and skin cancer. It's my summer hobby, if you will.

Since we haven't had summer yet, except for a few days here and there, I have nothing to complain about, sun-wise. Looks like summer is going to go right into winter, and as much as I love winter, I also love the changing of the seasons. So I'm a little bummed out.

Maybe it's getting to me more this year as I sometimes sell at the Sunday Market. And it has rained damn near every Sunday, which is terrible for business.

Not that it matters ... the market is a fiasco, anyway. There are way too many vendors, and the aisles are full of non-shoppers coming out to show off their kids and dogs. Every year the dogs get smaller, the kids get bigger and more obnoxious, and they both get louder and more annoying.

Looks like rain yet again this Sunday, and I reserved tomorrow's spot at the market a couple of weeks ago. I can't think of anything I'd rather do less. Hell, I remember when the market used to be fun, rain or shine.

And I am in the unlikely, actually unheard of position of wanting some sun.

Friday, July 20, 2007

D.A. Follies

I am intrigued by the vain antics of the district attorney of Clatsop County, Josh Marquis.

He already makes close to $80K a year, but apparently he really, really needs that extra $13K Clatsop County used to cough up to supplement his pay.

Since most of the county residents make less than $40K annually, I can't figure out why he thinks he needs more when he already makes twice as much as the majority of his constituents. If it's a pissing contest, hey, he already won.

Actually, I have no clue why the taxpayers of the county were coughing up anything for this position at all, since it's not a county slot to begin with.

What's even stranger, and a little scary, is the all-out media campaign he's waging to get those extra bucks. I can't help but think all this time and energy he's spending whining over the $13K would be better spent actually doing his job.

He's even gone from a free blogger account to his own domain,

Which makes me wonder ... is his specialty self-promotion or fighting crime? Or maybe he's just practicing his moves while looking for a larger stage to strut on?

You be the judge.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beware the Geezer

Astoria is turning into a mini-Miami. Pedestrians beware, and I'll tell you why.

The other day I was walking my rather large dog, and we came to a crosswalk at an intersection. A car stopped for us to cross, and I was about to step out into the street when I noticed that an old relic of a car was pulling up behind the first car, and the second car was edging more and more towards the center line, to the point where the driver's side of the car was blocked from view.

By then I was getting more than a little nervous, so I stepped out hesitantly, pulling the dog in close. Good thing I was hesitant.

The second car pulled out across the center line, passed the stopped car, and blew right through the crosswalk. If I hadn't been leery, and proceded slowly, he would have wiped me and my dog all over 16th Street. And probably kept right on going.

I got a glance at the driver as he passed a few feet in front of me. Yup, it was an old geezer, chin jutting over the top of the steering wheel, gripping the wheel with his hands at 10 and 2, staring grimly ahead, rushing to his denture adjustment or bingo fiesta. He looked a tad huffy that the first driver had stopped at the crosswalk and gotten in his way.

He didn't even see us, and that was an accomplishment. I'm no bitty little thang, and I have a very large dog. I would have reported him, but of course, I was too busy trying to stay out of his way to think about taking down license plate numbers.

Not that I think it would do any good to report such a thing in Astoria, which has become the Giza for Geezers. They merrily drive around running stop signs and ignoring cross-walks, blithely going about their business without a thought in the world.

I suppose it's going to take one of these geriatric lethal weapons plowing through a herd of school children to wake up the DMV to check them yearly for vision, reflexes and lucidity.

In the meantime, folks, be very, very careful at crosswalks. One of those geezer missiles might have your name on it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Commish

Okay, boys and girls, it's all in the lap of the Clatsop County Planning Commission. After two hearings, and more in the works and the anti-LNG folks FINALLY getting a nice loud, coherent voice, will they listen?

I'm sorry, but I can't even imagine how the hell it's gotten this far.

Has anyone been down Clifton Road lately? It's like traveling back 100 years. There can't possibly be any reason to desecrate that area, much less with 17 story high LNG terminals. I mean, what the hell even brought this on?

Well, now that I think about it, it doesn't require a brain surgeon to figure that one out. Just because the area is so pristine, the LNG big-wig corportate types immediately thought, "Oh shit, Lord, that prime piece of real estate is right smack in the middle of Clatsop County hickdom! It will be a snap to get by their dumbasses, and it'll only cost a coupla million to buy 'em off and shut 'em up. Promise 'em jobs they'll never be able to qualify for, and they'll bend right over."

And some are bending over so far they may never walk upright again.

Come on commissioners, you can save us from this travesty of false hopes. Deny those variances. Save the river, and our way of life.