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Saturday's Pensieve
June 20, 2009

The wall to the right of me is blank, and it feels like it has been for forever, but in reality it's only been empty for a few days. It's a bit strange and obviously bothers me, or else I wouldn't be writing about it. I feel the absence more than I feel sadness for the loss, if that makes any sense.

I've been struggling to get my new router to work nicely with my cable modem for... oh... 5 hours now, and nothing has really come naturally, and I realize how much I relied upon having someone more geeky in the house. The situation forces me to rely more upon myself, which I'm really okay with - I learn more lessons this way. I just wish sometimes that all of these settings made more sense... and that I had some kind of "network technician" here, as I'm not sure if 2 "routers" playing as DHCP servers will ever agree on anything.

Today I outran (jogged, really) a very slow-moving streetcar to catch it at the next stop. It's the little successes that add up to make one feel a wee bit better, I think.

Summer walks
June 15, 2009

I started my summer walks as a way to get away from everything and just *think*. When I first moved to Portland, they were away to acquaint myself with my neighborhood, then expanded to other neighborhoods close to my own. Last summer, my biking took over, and I didn't get around to walking or hiking so much, and I think I missed out on a few good places to really enjoy. This summer I need some time to really think again, and there's really nothing better than a hike to let one's mind wander. There's not a whole lot you need to pay attention to on a hike besides the ground in front of your feet or taking a moment every so often to enjoy your surroundings.

It was with this in mind that I checked out "Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver" from the library. I didn't know that it contained a compendium of walks I had already been compiling from the website run by Metro. Holy crap is this book awesome... there are walks in nearly every neighborhood in Portland, and plenty in the suburbs and outskirts of town. I decided to just go through these walks one-by-one and get to know the Portland I would most likely never see (though I may not choose to cross the Columbia to walk in Vancouver, but that's just a personal decision).

Trailhead??I started with the "4T - Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train, Portland" walk, since it is an easy one to pick up right after work (as I work downtown near Pioneer Square). This would be my first walk that includes a hiking part, and at first I was a little afraid of the beginning of the walk, as the difficulty level is a 4/5 (note that the PDF version is 3/5, which I more agree with). The other urban walks I've been on were obviously concrete-centric, and I was excited to get out into the hills. One starts by taking the MAX to the Washington Park station, then walking over the freeway to a trailhead that's *really* hidden... one must cross a freeway onramp (no crosswalks, no stop signs) then walk down a gravel "path" along the onramp to find the trailhead... it really looks like there shouldn't be and probably isn't anything actually there... but there it was, and I was on my way.

The trail starts with switchbacks up a hill, and it's a little strange because the Forestyrushing freeway is *right there* and you have to get up and over a hill to make the noise go away. The forest itself is pretty much like Forest Park, with our Portland coniferous thick forest growth everywhere, complete with wildlife (rustlings in the trees, slugs) and moisture (random puddles, streams, mud). Once I got to a point where I could no longer hear a freeway, however, I was right below Patton Road, which was pretty busy. One issue I had with this walk was that most of the "urban"-type walking had no sidewalks. The walk up to the Marquam Trail had no sidewalks at all, but for the most part had some pretty wide shoulders.

photo.jpgThe main Marquam trail up to Council Crest was closed for something or another, and the sign suggested I use the "south trails," so I headed south on Fairmount Blvd, having absolutely no clue where the other trail was, until I ended up on the opposite side of the hill and used my handydandy GPS to get me up to the top of the hill. When I finally made it, I took a well-deserved break to try to dry off just a bit, and enjoyed some conversation with a family of Quebecois.

On the way back down (Council Crest is the apex of the walk), the Marquam trail had a sign that it was closed from the top, and i my confusion, a nice older woman suggested that we just walk the trail - it is supposedly closed due to construction on the cell towers, and they won''t working by the time we got up there. So yeah, we went around the damned sign and followed the trail down. She was v helpful in pointing me in the correct direction to OHSU.

Once I left the Marquam trail, there was a lot of narrow shoulder-walking, which I didn't get on camera, since it was kind of fucking scary. The adults driving down to town from OHSU all use this road, and, from what I can tell, all drive 45 in a 25mph zone, 90% own expensive cars, and ALL should be used to the number of pedestrians and bicyclists along the road, because there were a ton of us trying to use < 3' of shoulder. Hrmph. So really, the walk wasn't hard, it was just kind of scary in some areas. The book recommends walking against traffic on Fairmount, and at that point, one is paying more attention to making sure one is as far away from the road as possible without tumbling down a fern-lined ravine.

When I finally made it to the Homestead neighborhood, the sidewalks came back and Mt Hood made its appearance, looming incredibly huge over the city. It seemed to have kind of a "full moon near the city" effect that my phonecam didn't pick up. I made it quickly to the tram, rode it down to the south waterfront, took the streetcar to the bus, and bussed it home. 4 different kinds of public transportation in one day! So all in all, it was a good walk (just over 4.25mi with my extra jaunts), though I think I was wanting more of a hike. I suppose I should stick to Forest Park for my hikes, and go purchase this little book for other urban outings (it's pocket-sized!!). Stay tuned for more...

June 2, 2009

Baby Kitty came into my life as a stray; I found her laying about the yard of the building I lived in. She was slight, nimble, and had a massive absess on her back. My lesbian neighbors trapped her and took her into the vet to get her fixed up. When she came back, she hid for days and was always embarassed about the bald spot on her back until it grew in.

I didn't want to name her, so I just called her "Baby Kitten" or "Baby Cat." I really didn't ever think I could keep her; there were plenty of other strays in the neighborhood, and my live-in boyfriend was allergic and supposedly hated cats. He started warming up to her, though, and with slow prodding, we got her to come inside the house, eat our food, and eventually join the household. When I asked him what we should call her, he said she already had a name.

Baby Kitty

She was a joy to have around; she was wary of others, but with he and I, she was incredibly loving and playful. She never scratched or bit, and only very rarely meowed, prefering a soft almost half-cough to speak. She had incredibly soft fur - anyone who was lucky enough to feel it would admire - I often called her "usagi-neko": bunny-cat. She had sparkling green eyes that would follow you around the room inquisitively, then, as soon as a petting hand was close, she would flop onto her side for a good rub.

After we moved to a different neighborhood, I kept Baby Kitty inside. There were too many ruffian strays around, and I didn't want her falling in with the wrong crowd. She would sit up in the back window and eye the group of cats that were fed by the old lady behind our building. One time we forgot to close a window before going to bed, and she got out during the night. I had to come home only a half day of work because I couldn't stop worrying about her. I found her crying under a bush near the front door, and I was able to capture her by pretending to be nonchalant about wanting to pet her. When I got her inside, she acted as if nothing had happened. I cried tears of joy that day - I was just so happy and relieved to have her home again.

Someone walking down the alley?

She continued to be my familiar through major life upheavals. Though she was very skittish for years, my last boyfriend was somehow able to pull her out of her shell. It might have had something to do with her being able to sit in his lap all day when he was unemployed - she really really liked that and grew quite attached to him.

I used to make up songs to sing to her, put to common tunes. They were always spontaneous and silly, and I like to think that she enjoyed them. This grew more common when I was alone in the house, when it was just me and her. I haven't really gotten into singing Shinji songs. He doesn't seem that type of cat.

Baby Kitty sleeps on Mr. Bear, close-up

When I moved here, I already knew that she had had kidney issues, so I continued to have the vet check her levels of whatever, and eventually she required special food, and recently I started giving her subcutaneous fluids weekly to keep her hydrated. When I got home last night, I found her laying by the cat tree, unable to get up to greet me.

I took her in a cab to DoveLewis and spent hours there, waiting for some kind of prognosis. Her kidney levels were up again, but they couldn't find anything that accounted for her neurological failure, so they kept her until this morning on fluids and in an oxygen chamber. When I went to pick her up at 8am, she could at least focus better, but there were no other noticable improvements. We travelled to her regular veterenary and spoke with our vet there. Her body was basically just shutting down on her, and there wasn't anything we could do about it. She died quickly, painlessly, and calmly wrapped in my arms resting on my lap. I hope she will forgive the decision I made for her. She was very very loved and I am already missing her more than words can express.

Baby Kitty "Studio Portrait"
Baby Kitty, ?/2002 - 6/2/2009
Best Feline Friend Ever