The View From Our Sidewalk

The New View From Our Sidewalk

Last fall the good folks at Habitat Gardens landscaped half our yard. The most visible change is the front, where we replaced a mass of juniper bushes that covered the front slope (shown below) with a garden with terraced rock walls (above, covered in a dusting of snow). It’s hard to tell from the angle of this picture, but there’s a nice gentle curve to the rock walls, and we love the natural look of the stacked rocks. The garden above this, below the big picture window, was also replaced with a rain garden, and the gardens on the side of the house to the right were also replaced, including a French drain and another rain garden.

I love seeing this view when I walk home from the train station, it will be more work to maintain (and I need to learn how to prune all the new plants) but it feels more like home. Mandi was great to work with, we said we wanted either native or drought-tolerant plants so that once established everything would be fine with our dry summers without need for a watering system, and she picked out this wide variety of plants, as well as everything for the rain gardens. It was all very easy on our end and we love the result.

I hoped to test out my old macro lens with the new camera as the plants have started blooming but it’s been a bit too breezy the last few weekends.

The Old View From Our Sidewalk


Old wooden garages in Portland, Oregon

It’s too bad you can’t make a living photographing the old garages of Irvington. I didn’t pay much attention to them for years, as while I walked a lot, it was mostly on the same route to the train station. But then we adopted our dog Ellie and we started taking long walks through the neighborhood, and since I let her dictate our meanderings I’ve passed a lot of houses and apartments I wouldn’t otherwise and I’ve fallen in love with the variety of these old, small garages.

Let the Belly Rub Commence!

Let the Belly Rub Commence!

Sam sometimes likes to hold my hand as he’s about to fall asleep, a trait he shares with Emma, and while he does like the occasional belly rub he doesn’t love them the way she did (or our first cat Templeton, who was crazy for them). One of the things that surprised me having cats the past couple of decades has been how different their personalities are, it’s fun to learn how best to delight each of them. I’ve also been surprised by how affectionate they are, I was not expecting that based on the stories I often heard, but my lap is rarely empty (Trixie is asleep there now).


On old red Honda Civic is parked in front of an old maroon house

This is not my beautiful house and this is not my small automobile, but I was drawn both by the old Honda and the abundance of maroon, one of my favorite colors. The Civic was red but on the damp day, and against the maroon house and maroon tree branches, seemed maroon in spirit. I never had a Civic this old but the first car I owned, and the first car I enjoyed driving, was a little red 1984 Nissan Pulsar that my step-father found for sale. Within a couple of years of buying that car I had earned enough to buy my first new car, a 1992 Honda Civic Si, that I loved and drove for many years and many miles.

And though the house isn’t mine, the neighborhood is, Ellie and I passed this scene on the far end of our walk as we turned back towards the general direction of our house. I’ve loved living here (we’ve been here 15 years) and this little scene reminded me both of my past and my present. An old car and an old house, both making me smile.

Wildlife Watching

Our cat Boo a seen from below

Boo watches wildlife in the back yard from the top of the cat tree as I photograph him from the floor. “Look, Trixie, there’s a junco!”

Our cat Trixie seen from below

Trixie, in her own inimitable style, watches wildlife in the back yard from the middle of the cat tree as I photograph her from the floor. “Look, Boo, there’s a squirrel!”

Our cat Trixie looks down at me as I photograph her from below

Trixie watches me watching her. “Look, Boo, an ape!”

Here Comes the Tide

The incoming tide washes over starfish, anemones, and mussels

I had many thoughts as the ocean covered my feet as I photographed the incoming tide washing over the starfish, anemones, and mussels attached to this large rock. My first thought was that I need to get some tall waterproof boots (which reminds me, I need to get some tall waterproof boots). But mostly I was just amazed that any creatures could survive in this spot, sometimes in air, sometimes in water, and that I could stand in this spot for a hundred years and still not fully understand the little ecosystem right in front of me.

The Alphabet Machine

A close-up of a machine used to raise a house off its foundation

The machine I use to generate the letters and numbers that go into the posts you see here is an old one, full of knobs and dials and pneumatic valves. I’m a little jealous of the speed and convenience of keyboards I see on people’s laptops when I’m on the train, able to tap a key labeled ‘B’ and see a ‘B’ appear on the screen. But where’s the noise, the drama, the emotion?

A close-up of a machine used to raise a house off its foundation

It may be time to upgrade though. My machine can’t generate ‘@’ or ‘#’ signs, which is really holding me back on social media. I’ve been hoping the company would create an add-on (they call them Helper Outlets), like when Q, R, S, and T were added to the English language, but sadly that’s not going to happen.

A close-up of a machine used to raise a house off its foundation

I first came across this machine when I didn’t have my camera with me, it was being used to raise a house up several feet off its foundation. I kept forgetting to go and photograph it but finally got some pictures on a Friday when I had a few extra minutes in the morning, and took a few more on the way home at the end of the day. I’m glad I did, I next walked past two days later while walking Ellie and the machine was gone.

Fall Comes to the Door of Hope

The Door of Hope viewed through fall color in Irving Park

In early December, I wanted to photograph this maple in fall color in Irving Park with the Door of Hope church as a backdrop. Even though it is just a few steps from the dog park, I had to bribe Ellie with treats to even get her this far, as she was ready to head into the neighborhood. That’s not Ellie walking across the leaves in the first picture, she was by my side, fortunately another dog filled in as my model. We’ve had many great memories in this little park, the pup and I.

Fall colors in Irving Park