Cat Scratch Fever

I remember picking up our tabby cat Millie, intending to settle her upon my lap.  Then something unexpected happened.

Alice and I had been watching TV, and as she rested her feet atop a pillow strategically set on the coffee table in front, I made myself super-comfortable.  Lying full length, I stretched my legs across Alice’s lap.  Then I unfolded a soft blanket and wrapped it around the two of us.  Millie ambled over, seemingly because a cozy resting place with a soft blanket could be used to knead her paws.  Our feline companion looked up enviously, and I surmised she needed a lift.  So I picked her up.

Bad move.

As I brought her atop the blanket – surprise, surprise – the independent animal objected.  Wresting furiously away from my grasp, a claw from her left paw sank deep inside my left pinkie finger.  I shrieked in pain as the cat’s full weight bore the intruding object downward.  Somehow, I managed to collect enough common sense to lower Millie down toward the floor, whereupon the claw loosened and receded, and I sank into a peculiar delirium.

* * *

Millie’s Point of View

Man oh man, the things I have to do to maneuver these humans into acts of submission.  Millie the cat here, and six months have gone by without Mason making any mention of me on this website.

The humans changed their password on the computer, so I have been unable to hack my way back here.  But my maneuver put the old man out in dreamland.  He looks funny with his eyes twitching, you know?

But enough of him.  This post is about me, me, me!


Some cats get along with Millie

Over the past few months, I made a friend.  Her name is Myrtle, and she lives on the other side of an eight-foot-high wooden fence that separates our apartment complex from a residential area.  My buddy can jump all the way to the top of the fence, able to visit me at the slightest whim, while I used to be stuck on the apartment building side.

But I’m no dummy.  Over time, I dug a little passageway under the fence, so now it’s no problem commiserating with her.  Plus every morning, I pester Mason and Alice with some obnoxious meowing at 4 am.  They relent –almost sleepwalking – and let me out.  I really enjoy manipulating those two humans.

Don’t call Millie a snob

I tell Myrtle about my days and nights, and she thinks I’m cool.  Lately, though, we discovered an interloper cutting through my side of the fence.  And we don’t care about his name; we just call him Simpleton.


If I look at him in a certain way, he gets nervous.  That’s almost as much fun as messing with Mason and Alice.

Now that I got readers’ attention, I must admit that sometimes I get bored, so I have to find new places to enjoy the day.  As you can see from the top photo, I’m not camera shy either.  I’m drawn to a puppet-like creature that reminds me of a Raggedy Ann doll that Alice puts on top of the cable TV box.  I love hanging out with him.

I have an uncanny sense of what causes humans to gawk when I pose in a super-cute setting, so the doll sets a perfect tableau.  Do you think I should audition for a cable-TV show?  After all, I could become more popular than the Kardashians.  Just a thought!

And look at this.


The sink in the master bathroom offers another good photo op.  I like this picture a lot.  I call it “Sink or Swim.”  And, please, please, don’t let Mason take credit for the photo.  I had to prompt him to take the shot.

Oops, gotta go.  I believe Mason is beginning to snap out of it.  I bet he really will be surprised to discover I write better than he does!

* * *

Awakening from a cat’s fantasy

Boy, do I feel weird.  I don’t know what a cat scratch can do, but as I read my latest post it appears I became delusional.  I managed to proofread this post, and it appears humorous and utilizes some Millie photos that have been sitting around.

So maybe I’ll copyright it.  But don’t you think it stretches the imagination too much?  Who would believe a cat could type, or be able to communicate so much mischief?

Nah.  Simply no way, José.  Unless the cat got my tongue.

Goodbye, Luther Bates


photo of man

Remember Luther Bates?  Remember the anxiety we shared on this website about our Pod?

If the answer is “yes,” he finally settled up Monday, May 18.  Finally.

If not, Luther Bates was Alice McCormick’s former neighbor in Doylestown, Pa. whom we entrusted to pack our possessions and ship them out to Oregon in a rental Pod.  Because of Alice’s longtime “friendship” with Bates, I acceded to his demand for upfront cash payment of $4,400 with the promise our furniture, keepsakes and valuables would arrive shortly after we took possession of our rented apartment in Hillsboro in late September.

Landing in Hillsboro

Three weeks after our arrival, our apartment was barren, and he was not returning our phone calls.  I wrote about it on this blog, and you can read it here.

We then learned from Bucks County’s (Pennsylvania) Prothonotary Office that Bates had a criminal record for bilking others, including an elderly widow and Vietnam Veterans of America.  Now we were desperate.  Two more weeks of continued silence followed, and we filed a complaint with Bucks County’s Office of Consumer Protection, speaking with investigator Lynn Hanes.

Bates may have had no criminal intent, but he did commingle our upfront money to take care of his own bills.  Only after Hanes’ office served our complaint – and Bates’ own probation officer added an admonition in person – did Bates finally make a substantial down payment with Pods.  Here’s the post on that development.

Where’s Our Stuff?

Nevertheless, Pods still would not ship our stuff unless a balance due of over $1,500 was paid.  Since the account was established in Bates’ name, he had the power to divert the shipment back to his home, and maybe pocket the unused funds.  Anxiety ridden, I waited until two days before the scheduled shipping date, then took a leap of faith.  Three more posts describe what happened.  Here’s one:  And another.   And the final one.

handwritten note and money order
Bates’ final money order and the note he enclosed.

Settlement at Last

Our friends and family followed the posts closely and offered words of comfort.  But how to recover the extra money we shelled out to get our stuff?  Bucks County’s Hanes followed through, even though Bates took his sweet time – eight months – to settle up grudgingly.

I paid a dear price in sleeplessness and peace of mind, and never want to go through anything like that again.  But we must acknowledge the professional guidance given us by Lynn Hanes and Bucks County’s Office of Consumer Protection.  And we must acknowledge how it settled this unpleasant affair.

Thanks, Lynn.  We never would have recovered without you – and glory be, in full.

Alice Experiences the Willamette River

Pauletta and Alice salute a delightful day on the Willamette.
Pauletta and Alice salute a delightful day on the Willamette.  Alice was concerned the wind blowing through her denim blouse made her look fat.

When Alice and I moved to northwest Oregon in September 2014 from Doylestown, Pa., two dear Bucks County friends made us an offer we could not refuse: Remain in close contact via two like-minded folk in Portland.

How lovely!  That’s how we stay close to Harry Georgeson, a world-class sculptor and talented architect, and Joan Perkes, an accomplished gallery manager/owner.

We followed up on their offer, and the fortuitous consequences are clearly evident throughout this photographic essay.

Pauletta Sagen Hoffman and husband, Terry, have been in frequent evidence about our lives ever since we arrived.  And after Alice endured her stroke on March 11, they have been Johnnies on the spot.

A good captain sees to the comfort and goodwill of his passengers.
A good captain sees to the comfort and goodwill of his passengers.

On Sunday, May 3, Pauletta and Terry offered a unique excursion: See Portland from a waterway perspective aboard their 36-foot Chris-Craft yacht to celebrate Cinco de Mayo two days early.  It’s safe to say we didn’t need any urging.

At noontime on Sunday, May 3rd, Alice and I ventured forth to Portland’s RiverPlace yacht basin where we joined our hosts and plus fellow guests of honor, Scott and Diane Chill.

The Italian Renaissance towers of the Burnside Bridge, built in 1926, salute boaters as they pass below.
The Italian Renaissance towers of the Burnside Bridge, built in 1926, salute boaters as they pass below.

What a divine day!  Skies were sunny, winds were relatively light and temperatures hit the mid-70s, as Terry carefully piloted the yacht into the popular watercraft-laden Willamette River where the vessel’s propellers eventually splashed downriver with a Jolly Roger flag leading the way.

The Jolly Roger leads us to the Steel Bridge, built in 1912.
The Jolly Roger leads us to the Steel Bridge, built in 1912.

On the water, Terry taught us how boat owners must constantly keep themselves alert to prevailing wind, water currents and impatient drivers to assure all passengers of a smooth, uneventful passage.

The Fremont Bridge (1973) carries Interstate 405 and US 30 above.
The Fremont Bridge (1973) carries Interstate 405 and US 30 above.

During the five hours we spent on Portland’s notoriously polluted Willamette River, the lyrics of a 1949 song resonated appropriately inside my head:

Cruising down the river,
On a Sunday afternoon
With one you love, the sun above
Waiting for the moon.

Scott Chill assists in the captain's chair while wife Diane provides the camaraderie.
Scott Chill assists in the captain’s chair while wife Diane provides the camaraderie.

The old accordian playing
A sentimental tune
Cruising down the river,
On a Sundy afternoon.

All sorts of watercraft enjoy Portland's river scenery.
All sorts of watercraft enjoy Portland’s river scenery.

The birds above, all sing of love
A gentle sweet refrain
The winds around, all make a sound
Like softly falling rain.

What's that rumble?  Why, it's the Burlington Northern Railway train passing overhead!
What’s that rumble?  Why, it’s the Burlington Northern Railway train passing overhead!  The bridge was built in 1908.

Just two of us together,
We’ll plan our honeymoon
Cruising down the river,
On a Sunday afternoon.

Terry keeps his attention focused even when the water ahead appears placid.
Terry keeps his attention focused even when the water ahead appears placid.

With the cruising done, I can’t help but think: If any group can make changes to address the health of our waterways, Portland Rising Tide could.  This Friday, a folk benefit concert will raise funds for the organization to accomplish some lofty goals, including resistance to climate change.

Pauletta cheered when she heard Portland's mayor withdrew his support for a propane terminal in the heart of the city.
Pauletta is a gracious host while Terry pilots the yacht.  After she heard Portland’s mayor withdrew his support for a propane terminal in the city, she cheered unabashedly.

The night kicks off with cellist and folksinger Anna Fritz of the Portland Cello Project, heats up with bluegrass shredders The Wild Wood, and finishes off with a rocking set of Johnny Cash cover songs by a band named Counterfeit Cash.  The venue: Ecotrust at 721 NW 9th Ave Ste 200, Portland.

Here’s a link that gives more particulars.   Maybe we’ll see you there!

Alice and I Are Committed

The committed couple cut a creative ceremonial cake.
The committed couple cut a creative ceremonial cake.

This blog of mine is growing in popularity, especially when it comes to stories about my partner in life, Alice McCormick, and her recovery from a full-blown stroke.  Almost four years ago when we committed ourselves to one another, I wrote the following story for the local weekly newspaper in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  Here ’tis.

Doylestown is propitiously small with rustic, cosmopolitan sensibilities, a hundred miles from Manhattan. It’s a good spot to hang out and be entertained, without committing to a night-filled itinerary of revelry.

I had adopted Andre’s, a European-style wine-and-cheese bar, inside downtown’s Marketplace, as my infrequent hangout.  On one late September evening in 2010, I felt particularly righteous in my own skin, flaunting the suit-adorned personage of a chauffeur. An outlandishly attractive blonde and brunette in their early 20s had dropped by to enjoy Andre’s ambience. Before I knew it, I found myself regaling two unsuspecting honeys with every syllable spewing from my busy mouth.

As I wondered where to lead this self-important conversation, a soft arm wrapped across my left shoulder from behind me, and a confident woman’s voice in my right ear meowed, “Oh here you are; I’ve been looking all over for you.”

(As Alice tells the story, she says seeing me well manicured for the first time in a business suit caused her to think, “Doctor, lawyer, he probably has money.”  Little did she know I was an itinerant writer moonlighting as a limousine driver.)

I didn’t know this woman, but here she was interjecting herself into my ramshackle life!  Unbelievable.

That’s how I met Alice McCormick, the woman who keeps harping on me to keep my head erect.  (I have to hold my head high to gaze into the expressive eyebrows of this brown-haired Amazon, measuring 6’3″.  After all, back in the 1960s, she was a regular dancer on “American Bandstand” in Philadelphia.)

Within a short time after meeting her, I discovered it’s possible to re-experience life while looking through two different pairs of eyes. A desirable creature with a good heart possessing North Philly toughness equals a damned good woman.  All my life, I’ve championed women’s rights.  Now, I found an emancipated giant of a woman.  Or rather she found me.  What am I going to do?  Rain on her parade?  I think I love her.

Put-up or shut-up time.

I asked Alice what kind of ceremony we should have. We’re beyond child-bearing stage, we’ve outlived or outgrown former loves of our lives, and we’re imbued with Bucks County consciousness.

Before I knew it, Alice grabbed a book from my bookcase and showed me the cover. “Let’s use this,” she said.

As I looked down at the book, I appreciated her challenge.  The book’s title was: The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings.  Its prominent New Hope, PA author: Keith David, first openly gay member of the American Bridal Assn. who catered gay and lesbian weddings at his Mansion Inn in New Hope, and in 1998 founded

I publicly champion the cause of same-sex couples to marry and enjoy all the accoutrements of opposite-sex couples. Now Alice has challenged me to question how I would exhibit further support. Would I go so far as to incorporate their cause into my own personal ceremony? And, addressing an inner fear, what would other people think because Alice and I used a gay-friendly guide?

I remember the challenges posed whenever I chose to keep a friend who openly came out.  I remember the inner-fear insinuations slicing my ego by those who choose to overtly reject associations with gay and lesbian singles. Why is it every time a heterosexual chooses to befriend someone gay, crude intolerance invades our subconscious world? Why do such decisions become more weighty?

We agreed to make our personal statement.  The embrace inherent in our nuptials would exceed mere tolerance.  During the weeks preceding our 2011 ceremony, we used Keith’s guide and found it sobering, and eventually rewarding.

The following chapters were “very helpful,” according to Alice: “Legal Planning,” “Your Budget,” “Dealing with Stress,” “Creating Your Wedding Style” and “Writing Vows.”

The late Danawa Buchanan, a Native Cherokee, led the ceremony with interfaith minister David DiPasquale.
The late Danawa Buchanan, a Native Cherokee, as she performed part of the ceremony.

Two unique friends agreed to conduct our ceremony: David DiPasquale, interfaith minister at Pebble Hill Church, and Danawa Buchanan, former president of the Native American Alliance of Bucks County and now tribal leader for the Allegheny Cherokee people.

The Sept. 24 ceremony was held outdoors in the gleaming warm twilight on the stone patio between a large gazebo and its companion swimming pool.  Danawa cautioned the 30 friends in attendance they were committed henceforth to furthering our relationship and ended the ceremony with an Apache prayer:

“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

“Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.

“May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion, and your days together be good and long upon the earth.”

Sealed with a kiss.
Sealed with a kiss.

Alice Goes Back to Work

alice back to work-lr

I should have seen it coming.  After all, Alice waited only one month before showing enough confidence to go driving alone – without my permission, if you please – after a full-blown stroke on March 11th.

Sure, I was worried, so I wrote about it.  The responses I received from some of you, though, praised her willingness to assert a free spirit.  Others were more guarded and even identified with my fear.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to underestimate Alice’s abilities because of her speech aphasia.  I think my late Grandma Johnston – even my mother – would have been fond of Alice’s “gumption.”  So being outvoted by the ghosts of family mentors, especially since Alice would not surrender her keys to the Ford Escape, I went into an author’s solo tantrum.

Two weeks later, when Alice drove off again to get her hair done, I gritted my teeth and withstood it, looking at my watch only 50 times (or was it 100?).

I was uneasy, oh yeah.  But I already admitted on this website that I have a controlling nature, so I did not make a big deal about the second drive.  Alice’s speech aphasia is improving bit by bit, although at times when she gets hung up on the same word over and over, it’s tempting to assume her frustration is directed at me.  That’s when I get depressed and insecure.

So on Friday, May 8th, two days before Mother’s Day, Alice drove off again to buy herself a pair of sneakers, and I tried to find other pursuits to keep from worrying – and consequently avoid getting Alice pissed again.

Well, after Alice bought a nifty pair of sneakers, she hopped into ol’ Betsy again, not telling me where she was going.  I began pacing our apartment from one room to another, wearing a path in the carpet.  I kept the cellphone in my shirt pocket, preparing for the worst, until Alice showed up an hour later.

She sauntered in with a smug expression.  I tried to appear matter-of-fact, until Alice said, “Well, I start work on Monday.”

“What?!!!” I exclaimed.  “How do you know that?”

Alice explained that on the spur of the moment, she drove over to KinderCare’s location – half a mile from our apartment – where she worked before her stroke.  For the last two weeks, I had been whining about our dwindling resources, but wasn’t this an overreaction?

Not really.  Being cooped up in this apartment with me can get to be a little rich, so she sought relief.  And when I think about it, Alice speaks as well – better, actually – than the toddlers and infants for whom she cares, and her love for those kids plus their love of her culminated in this good news.

I guess we can call it lovingly a stroke of good luck, as the photo above shows.  Alice reluctantly waved, “Bye bye,” for the camera on the first day she again found refuge with like-minded caretakers.  As I write this, she’s back minding kids and toddlers – in close proximity of fellow employees.

Alice is nothing short of amazing.  How could she possibly top this?

Oh, never mind.  I’m flabbergasted enough.

Portland’s Shirtsleeve Mayor in St. Johns

Photograph by Alice McCormick.
Photograph by Alice McCormick.

Portland has a mayor who responds to the wishes of his voters.  (Many politicians say one thing to voters, but do another when it comes down to brass tacks.)

The picture above says a thousand words.  Charlie Hales looks absolutely giddy in the 53rd annual St. Johns parade on Saturday, May 9th, after reversing an earlier stand encouraging Pembina Pipeline Corporation to construct a propane export terminal in the Port of Portland.

Alice McCormick’s sensational photograph resulted after cousin Margaret Johnston led Alice and me to the perfect spot (next to the official reviewing stand) where the tall woman in my life whipped out her trusty camera and snapped away.

The result is worthy of a Norman Rockwell rendering.

The St. Johns Parade has been a tradition in the North Portland area since 1962.  Many families have their favorite viewing spots to watch the floats, bands, drill teams and horses.  Parade participants from earlier years now cheer on their children and grandchildren as they march or ride the parade route.

alice stands tall-lr

As you can see, Alice unabashedly holds her own whenever a challenge presents itself.

23rd Avenue Discovered

On 23rd Avenue, this visual warns of the peril the streetcar tracks can wreak on an unsuspecting cyclist.
On 23rd Avenue, this visual warns of the peril the streetcar tracks wreak on an unsuspecting cyclist.

In a previous post, I bemoaned Portlanders’ lack of culinary sensibilities regarding pizza.  Many pizza joints on the West side in Hillsboro and nearby Beaverton are franchised operations with familiarly awful brand names, using prepared dough with questionable ingredients.  And when Alice and I explored Portland’s City Center, we ran across pizza places with a mishmash of toppings to hide shortcomings.

Imagine our delight then, once we stumbled across Mad Dog Pizza on Main Avenue in Tillamook – two hours away – concluding this was pizza we could savor.

Yet where did Portland fit in?, we wondered.  Locally published magazines tout eateries with a multitude of palate-pleasing delights.  Is the appetizing copy totally promotional advertising?

We remained disheartened, until a good friend – actually, a godsend – kept nagging us to explore the “Rose City’s” Northwest 23rd Avenue, merely one block north of Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital.

Kornblatt's Delicatessen and Escape From New York Pizza, side by side.
Kornblatt’s Delicatessen and Escape From New York Pizza, side by side.

What a find in Portland’s alphabet district between Hoyt and Irving!  Two adjoining Big Apple-inspired eateries – Escape From New York Pizza and Kornblatt’s Delicatessen – totally upgraded our downtrodden taste buds.  Normally, restaurant promotional verbiage is hyperbole on glossy menus, but Escape From New York’s copy printed atop its pizza boxes is spot-on.

Behind pizza pies being offered by the slice, a jammed bulletin board conveys the feeling of neighborhood.
Behind pizza pies being offered by the slice, a jammed bulletin board conveys the feeling of neighborhood.

“Our pizza is Portland’s finest,” pizza-maker David Ellis agrees.  “Our cheese is whole milk mozzarella.  That’s it.  No substitutions!

“Our sauce is a unique recipe prepared each day from whole tomatoes, fresh garlic, select herbs and spices.  Our dough is handmade every morning seven days a week.  Our toppings are fresh and bountiful.  Our promise is to make everything fresh.  We won’t skimp on ingredients.”

Palates belonging to Alice and me heartily concur.  Then Kornblatt’s Delicatessen caught our eye.  Its takeout menu promises, “We offer the finest traditional delicatessen-style food west of the Hudson.”  Well, why not give it a try?


Omigod, I can’t argue with their assessment, considering that – oy gevalt – honest-to-goodness kosher grub doesn’t exist out here.

Well, not quite true!  Maybe it’s not blessed by a rabbi, but an unexpected oasis exists inside Kornblatt’s, which the New York Times headlined “The Best in the [North] West.”  Proprietor Josh Kornblatt calls his cuisine “the equivalent of Jewish soul food.” Authentic latkes, kippered salmon, whitefish salad flown in fresh from New York, homemade bagels, matzo ball soup, cheese blintzes and more, served over 12 hours each and every day – all at prices cheaper than in Manhattan.  Plus you can order by phone and/or take home, too.

Yes, our sensibilities were super-satisfied, yet we had one more 23rd Avenue discovery to make down a short flight of steps north of Marshall Street.  If East Coast tastes were relevant to Manhattan, was it too much to expect a place called Grant’s Philly CheeseSteak to satiate a Philly appetite?

med maryjane-lr

We needed to find out.  As the sight of a medical marijuana dispensary caused our dreams to expand further in this alphabet neighborhood, we ambled into Grant’s.  And what a cheesesteak.  Patrons of Philly’s Geno’s and Pat’s will appreciate what we found.

Part-owner Diane Schuler pampered us without knowing who we are.
Diane Schuler pampered us without knowing who we are.

Alice took half of hers home, but I consumed the whole doggoned thing, including the homemade potato chips.  From the grill, Grant’s Philly CheeseSteak concoction consists of thinly slicing up a half pound of chopped sirloin steak, cooking it on the grill, adding a combination of sweet and hot peppers plus provolone cheese, and inserting the piping-hot result inside an amoroso roll.  For good measure, I requested marinara sauce, which was grilled  within.

One bite down, and I had to snap a pic of this beauty!
One bite down, and I had to snap a pic of this beauty!

Delicious!  But take note Kraft’s popular Cheez Whiz is available as a cheese option, although I never cared much for it.  Nevertheless, I know some Philadelphians who would jump at the chance.

Diane and Grant Schuler own the establishment that is closed on Saturdays, due to their 7th Day Adventist faith.  So never plan on a Saturday cheesesteak.  It helps to know Diane’s mother had hailed from Johnstown, Pa., which is why the offspring can serve up a faithful rendering of a Philly cheesesteak.

The cast-iron sculptures next to the Nob Hill Bar & Grill undergo occasional changes by creator Joe Justice.  For example, they wore lipstick when Sarah Palin ran for Vice President.
The cast-iron pig sculptures next to the Nob Hill Bar & Grill undergo occasional changes by creator Joe Justice. For example, they wore lipstick when Sarah Palin ran for Vice President.

All in all, after our 23rd Avenue exploration, I take pleasure in eating my words about viable options for good New York/Philly pizza, especially knowing a great Jewish-style deli and Philly cheesesteaks help East Coasters learn the West is the best.  Little wonder parking spaces are few and far between.

A cellphone user is barely distracted by the Portland Streetcar.
A cellphone user is barely distracted by the Portland Streetcar.

But take heart: On crowded afternoons, the Portland Streetcar can drop you into this slice of heaven.

Just make sure to bring your appetite.

Portland Mayor Changes Course Ahead of President Obama Visit


Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has reversed his earlier stand encouraging Pembina Pipeline Corporation to construct a propane export terminal in the heart of the city.  Speaking before the Port of Portland, he announced the abrupt change, reportedly how an endorsement could affect his reelection campaign next year.

Hales’ announcement comes just prior to President Barack Obama’s visit to Portland for a fund-raiser later today.  Here are links to coverage by Oregon Public Broadcasting,  as well as Willamette Week.

We are elated to see that Mayor Hales has felt heat from voters and put the throttle of his captain’s position in full reverse.  And the skepticism I expressed if the plan were put forward will not see fruition.

For the time being, the pipeline plan is scheduled to be considered by the city council on June 10.

To show our appreciation for their hard work in putting this issue before Portland votes, here is a press release issued jointly by the Climate Action Coalition and Portland Rising Tide, prime movers in political environmental activism here:

The thin, green line blocking fossil fuel exports got a little bit thicker today after Mayor Charlie Hales reversed his position on a large propane export project proposed for the Port of Portland Terminal 6.  Mayor Hales had previously supported the project but changed his mind after widespread community opposition threatened to turn the terminal into a major issue in his upcoming reelection campaign.

At present, the June 10th public hearing still stands and the four remaining Portland city commissioners have not spoken publicly about their positions on the project.  Days earlier, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared opposition to Shell’s arctic drilling rig and denied a permit for the rig to dock at the Port of Seattle after community activists threatened to blockade it with a flotilla of kayaks.

This is good news to climate activists and community members demanding that we heed scientists’ warnings and leave fossil fuels in the ground.  “This is a step in the right direction. Now we need to take a few more steps and ban all fossil fuel exports so we can get closer to climate stabilization in my lifetime!” said Lucinda Drake, 14, of Sunnyside Environmental School who testified at the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s hearing about the Pembina Propane Terminal in May along with several of her classmates.

Noah Brown, 13, added, “I appreciate the Mayor changing his decision on the propane terminal. It is affecting the youth’s future and it means a lot to me that he would listen to us about these issues.  In the future, for all the youth, we need to move toward a fossil fuel free state.”

The Climate Action Coalition, a coalition of grassroots groups that has been organizing community opposition to the project since early fall, and its member groups are calling on Mayor Hales, the Portland City Council, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure in Portland and Multnomah County, and to work with leaders throughout the Pacific Northwest to take strong action on climate change.

Opposing Pembina is just the start. The Climate Action Coalition is calling on leaders in Portland to oppose all fossil fuel terminals, including those already in operation. Earlier today, individuals associated with member group Portland Rising Tide, along with Laborers International Union of North America member Tim Norgren, blockaded and oil train route to Arc Logistics in NW Portland in order to show opposition all fossil fuel export projects in the Pacific Northwest, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would threaten worker and environmental standards throughout the Pacific Rim.

The Climate Action Coalition will keep putting pressure on the Port of Portland to withdraw their support for Pembina’s proposed propane export terminal.

Facing the Cost of Aphasia

Alice stroking Josh, her Doylestown cat, in the summer of 2012.  When she is happy, EVERYBODY'S HAPPY.
Alice stroking Josh, her Doylestown cat, in the summer of 2012. When she is happy, EVERYBODY’S HAPPY.

Alice is bored, feeling trapped by her speech predicament.  On Wednesday, April 29th, she once again asserted her penchant for free will by driving off to window-shop at a strip mall loaded with box stores, but this is not what her heart ultimately desires.

My partner wants to go back to work.  Her alpha-female mind is as sharp as ever, having used my communication skills to fend off well-meaning family members who want to dote on her.  Unwittingly, their concern would have complicated Alice’s ambitious plans for recovery, and this lady stands for no interference.  As just one example, she abhors my nagging reminders to take her medication.

Medical bills are piling up for the professional care received, so both of us realize it’s time to pay the piper.  Although Alice doesn’t want me to work outside our abode so I can focus on writing a book and this blog (in addition to looking after her), it’s time to face hard choices.  We are heading for perilous times unless we take action.

Two nights ago, Alice consented to have me find work.  Preferably, I can find freelance writing assignments and telecommute.  But if not, I might have to leave Alice alone for stretches of time so I can drive for Uber, or a similar car service, because “beggars can’t be choosers.”

Summarizing our plight for anyone new to this blog, on Wednesday, March 11th, my partner endured a stroke at home while I attended a writers’ conference.  That night, our plans for the future suffered a big hit, and we are making the best of it.

Alice continues her agonizingly slow – but sure – recovery.  Two nights ago in bed after I prompted her to count to 10, she counted aloud into the mid-30s, proving her stubbornness.  At other times, though, she becomes stuck on a word, and that word keeps repeating itself over and over again as if it had a life of its own.  When that happens, she must stop speaking temporarily and take a deep breath.

An amusing example occurred the other night.  Alice tried to utter a name, but what came out was “Dr. F*ck.”  She tried to communicate her thought again, but the same professional title followed by a four-letter expletive came out.  Feigning naiveté, I questioned the accuracy of what she said, and we both laughed.  After all, speech aphasia is not characterized by a nervous tic.

But humor only goes so far.  Alice will not subject an employer to the hint of a speech impediment.  She always has fulfilled work duties professionally, even to the point of working through lunch breaks multiple times.

To reemerge into the diaper-changing world of infant care, she confronts her computer screen daily with websites offering aphasia exercises.  Alice wants me to stay home; she is consumed about my taking unnecessary risks.

That’s commendable, but these days, regardless of our senior status, we have little choice.  We have overcome serious hurdles to relocate in Oregon, including seeing our possessions held hostage, so we must bravely meet the challenges of our future together.

For the time being, I will continue to keep this blog going, reporting on the charms of our adopted environment.  Both of us agree we shall not surrender to aphasia.  There are too many well-wishers urging us to keep plowing ahead.

Once again, we say to ourselves, “Onward and upward!”