January 24, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hi all—and a happy New Year from my Portland home.

Time has flown by and, much to my surprise, I am now on my third year of living here. It’s been an interesting couple of years. One good thing about living in a new area is watching everything develop. The views from my window change daily. Once upon a time the people who farmed down here on the riverfront land lived up above the flood plain on the hills. In the era of “urban renewal” several major roads destroyed the connections. Now a pedestrian bridge has reconnected the new South Waterfront with the hills of old South Portland. It already is a well used route over eleven lanes of traffic including I-5, and makes it possible for me to walk to my granddaughter’s condo. (At least it will if I can overcome my fear of heights—and that’s my New Year’s resolution.)

I've watched three barges being built and sent out to sea with tugboats, the police boat, and the fireboat in attendance. The latter sprays plumes of water to celebrate each new launch. OHSU's new dental school and research labs are rising rapidly, along with a bicycle-only apartment building for the students and professors. Progress is being made on a new light rail/bicycle bridge across the Willamette. The spindly trees are filling out, more and more children seem to be finding delight in the well-designed small park, and even the ospreys have gained a permanent nesting site, in full view of a neighboring building’s webcam. Another nearby nesting pole is planned for the spring.

Most of last year was devoted to finishing up the revision of Walking Portland. It is now at the publishers, going through their processes to make a finished book. The cover announcement is on Amazon, but the book itself is planned for March. For some reason, working on it seemed to take up most of my computer time and energy this last year. I thought it would be easier now that I live here. It wasn't.

The original book was written when I was living in Roseburg. Many of the original walks were inspired by the many librarians I knew who lived in Portland. Then I would drive up to stay at my son’s home, and spend a day or two walking in various areas. I took notes and used a tape recorder: it was much easier to say “turn here” than to write down those constant but important bits of information. Then I went home, wrote up both written and verbal notes, checked everything on a map, and sent a rough draft to my editor. She checked her map for questions, relayed them back, and I added those questions to my notes of things that didn't seem to work. Then I took another trip up to check on the previous walks and do some others. It was a lot of fun as well as work because I was going through areas that were new to me, and I was seeing things for the first time on foot.

Living in Portland now has made it more convenient, but the writing and rewalking still wasn't easy. Portland has changed drastically. The outdoor art, which brightens up the landscape, has been removed, or added to, or relocated since I was here before. New parks have been developed or remodeled. The new streetcar has made it even easier to get around town. There have been quite a few changes in the stores, and many older neighborhoods have been repainted, re-landscaped, and “gentrified.” However, all of these changes also added to the interest and fun of reacquainting myself with the old familiar places, as well as the many new places that weren't even around fifteen years ago.

No one can accuse this city of stagnation! And, I must admit, it has been good for me to change my ruts.