Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29, 2015, I endured the first of six rounds of chemo. Today, I'm around to endure a hot day in Portland. Hallelujah for my health!

I've been reflecting on this anniversary off and on throughout July, 2016. How would it feel to reach the one year mark? To tell you the truth, I still remember well how willingly I walked into the Oncology Center at Kaiser Interstate and turned my body, my well being, my future over to that fine bunch of professionals. I praise the Lord for them and their every effort. I praise the Lord for each of you who prayed for me throughout my battle with cancer and the side effects of the chemicals and processes that got it outta me. Thank you!


While I reflected on the past 365 days, in the back of my mind I wondered what photo or photos to put here today. Then, it came to me. This one with the magnificent reflections in the step van's windshield. I remember how excited I was to see it last week on my morning walk between buses on the way to work. "Wow! Look at that!" I thought as I stopped on the sidewalk diagonally across from where it was parked and got my camera out of the bag I carry it in while out and about. I knew immediately which downtown building lent itself to creating these spectacular reflections, too.


I looked up and took this photo before crossing the street.

This is the side that's reflected in the windshield, the west-facing side of a building that fronts onto SW 5th, a block away from where I stood to take this photo. It's The Standard Insurance Center, 900 SW 5th Avenue.

Found on the Internet, I assume it is all up-to-date:

The Standard Insurance Center, originally the Georgia-Pacific Building, is a 27-story office building in Portland, Oregon. Completed in 1970, it currently serves as part of the headquarters of The Standard, the brand name under which Standard Insurance Company and other subsidiaries of StanCorp Financial Group, Inc., do business. Standard also owns the 16-story Standard Plaza, located two blocks south along 5th Avenue.

The Georgia-Pacific Building was commissioned by Georgia-Pacific and designed by the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). At the time of construction, it was the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. It was completed in 1970.

When Georgia-Pacific left Portland, the Standard Insurance Company purchased the building, renamed it Standard Insurance Center, and removed all GP signage.

Standing 367 feet (112 m) tall, the tower contains 27 above-ground stories. Valued at $114 million, the structure contains 459,504 square feet (42,689.3 m2) of space. Built of concrete and steel, the tower is considered Modernist in style. One major tenant is the Stoel Rives law firm, which leases the top nine stories at the building. The building’s extensive woodwork provides an elegant reminding of the Georgia-Pacific past along with The Quest, an elaborate sculpture considered Portland’s largest single piece of white sculpted marble.

The Standard believes healthy environments are fundamental to healthy communities by finding creative solutions to operate sustainably. The Standard employs a broad range of practices to contribute to the mantra ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ in its internal operations, in the operation and maintenance of its office buildings, and in the community. The Standard’s corporate sustainability objectives include recycling in the office, energy efficiency in the workplace and using green products and services.


Here's a photo that I took of The Quest in November, 2011. When I walk by it these days, I do not see any of those brown marks that look like cracks in the sculpture.

And here's what I found on Wikipedia about the sculpture:

The Quest, sometimes referred to as Saturday Night at the Y or Three Groins in a Fountain,[1][2] is an outdoor marble sculpture and fountain designed by Count Alexander von Svoboda, located in Portland, Oregon in the United States. The sculpture, carved in Italy from a single 200-ton block of white Pentelic marble quarried in Greece, was commissioned by Georgia-Pacific in 1967 and installed in front of the Standard Insurance Center in 1970. It depicts five nude figures, including three females, one male and one child. According to the artist, the subjects represent man's eternal search for brotherhood and enlightenment.

As of 1990, The Quest was considered Portland's largest single piece of white sculptured marble. The abstract, figurative sculpture was surveyed by the Smithsonian Institution's "Save Outdoor Sculpture!" program in 1994 and underwent minor repairs. It has received mixed reviews. One critic appreciated how its flowing lines contrasted with the "stark" pillars of the adjacent building, and called the marble "impressive". Another writer for The Oregonian wrote of her and others' dislike for the sculpture, saying it serves as a "free sex-education lesson" for schoolchildren.

The Quest was designed by Count Alexander von Svoboda, an Austria-born, Toronto-based sculptor. It was commissioned by Georgia-Pacific in 1967 and installed in front of the Standard Insurance Center (formerly known as the Georgia-Pacific Building) at Southwest 5th Avenue and Southwest Taylor Street in downtown Portland in 1970. The stone sculpture was one of nearly 400 in Georgia-Pacific's private collection, unveiled in Portland with the opening of its world headquarters. Rose Festival princesses presented the work at a formal ceremony. The sculpture was carved in Carrara, Italy, from a single 200-ton block of white Pentelic marble, quarried near Athens. It depicts five "larger than life" nude figures, including three females, one male and one child. The statue is set on a pedestal within a fountain, surrounded by water jets. The figures' forms curve upward, and two of the females have their hands raised, while the third "sleeps in the rear". The male figure appears to float and is reaching up with both hands, while the child figure is located behind the foremost female.

The Quest measures approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) x 10 feet (3.0 m) x 15 feet (4.6 m) and is sited on a concrete or stone base that measures 22 feet (6.7 m) x 10 feet (3.0 m) x 5 feet (1.5 m) and weighs 17 tons. According to the artist, the sculpture is "symbolic of man's eternal search for brotherhood and enlightenment". Michelangelo inspired the work, but von Svoboda took a more "humanistic" approach, and 35 stonemasons assisted with the sculpture's creation, which took two-and-a-half years to complete. von Svoboda's Perpetuity, a hollowed-out cross-section of a redwood log with a bronze "seedling" radiating outward, served as a "companion" sculpture. Originally installed along the Southwest Fourth Avenue side of the building, the work was relocated to the World Forestry Center.

The Smithsonian Institution has categorized The Quest as both abstract and figurative. In 2002, journalist Sallie Tisdale of The Oregonian described the sculpture as a "large tangle of snow-white bodies in a fountain". She wrote that the work is privately owned but in public view, and that it has been around "long enough that no one is quite sure how it got there in the first place". As of 1990, The Quest was considered Portland's largest single piece of white sculptured marble. It was surveyed and considered "well maintained" by the Smithsonian's "Save Outdoor Sculpture!" program in January 1994. Maintenance on the sculpture has included caulking and repairs to the male figure's nose.

The Quest has received mixed reviews. During the unveiling ceremony, there was reportedly a "momentary stunned silence then crescendo of applause duly recorded by local news media". In 1970, one Building Stone News contributor wrote that the sculpture's flowing white lines contrast with the stark vertical pillars of white quartz on the adjacent building's exterior, and called the marble "impressive". In contrast, Tisdale said of the work:

The Quest has been around since 1970, long enough for its provenance and purpose to sink into mystery ... No one seems to like it much, and others actively dislike it. But there it stays, a free sex-education lesson for busloads of suburban schoolchildren, the uncertain limbs forever reaching somewhere or other, for something.

The sculpture has earned the nicknames Saturday Night at the Y and Three Groins in a Fountain. One writer for The Seattle Times, in a piece about differences between Portland and Seattle, referenced the latter nickname as an example of Portland's "kitschier" art. In 2003, Eugene Weekly published a book review that suggested readers should read Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon, a recently published travelogue by Chuck Palahniuk, if they were unfamiliar with "Three Groins in the Fountain". Palahniuk includes the sculpture is his "Portland vocabulary lesson", which includes a list of his definitions for local words.[10] The sculpture has been included in at least one published walking tour of Portland.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Watched on the way to work, a worker at work, welding.

I noticed a German Shepherd in the garage door opening and brought up my camera to photograph him. Then, the man caught my eye as he welded in the background. Four photos in quick succession. Enjoy! Hold Fast Fabrication PDX on SE Grand Avenue.





To say I was excited to get these photos is a woeful understatement. I even got to show them to the welder before I walked the block and half to my mundane cubicle in my work building.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Twenty-one days ago, I achieved my goal! Part Two: How We Got It Done! Love and caring, two great ingredients in my determination.

Two of our fine friends from California, Danielle and Meehan, decided to go with my sons Lamont and Leland and me to make my goal of walking from the Larch Mountain parking lot to the Sherrard Point viewpoint. In fact, Danielle graciously drove us in her Toyota Highlander! After a detour brought about by a July 4th parade in Corbett on the Historic Columbia River Highway, we circled around and found a paved road all the way to the Larch Mountain parking lot.


I made a mistake asking you to remember the rotting tree trunk in yesterday's post--I thought it was the one I had them stand on and around for this photo on the 4th of July. Nevertheless, this is a sweet photo of Meehan, Leland, Lamont, and Danielle.


Because I was surrounded by caring people who love me, I had no problem getting to the steps. Once there, I listened to everyone's advice and encouragement and just put one foot up on a step, then the other one beside that one and made my way up each set of steps that appeared on the path. I didn't let myself think about walking back down them yet because I knew in my heart that I'd be able to cope with that when the time came. It's that love and caring that got me there. There's young, energetic Meehan already at the top of the steps.


When I stopped to rest for a few seconds, I decided to take this photo of the trees off the side of the path. I didn't notice that there was no path underneath that railroad tie step until I selected this photo to post here. Glad that I didn't!


This moment that I stopped and took this photo allowed me to have a look at where I'd be going on the way back to the car in the parking lot. Thankful for that moment. Once again I'm thankful I didn't notice that those steps appear to have empty air beneath them there on the grassy edges at the edge of the path.


I found a spider at work. Over the few seconds that I took several photos, the spider moved around a bit.


We're getting higher now, into the clouds which you can see here through the trees.


My son Leland knows how to distract me from the fact that I'm high up on a mountain top! Let me also tell you that each of us was proud of our layers--it was cool up there in the clouds!


Meehan, being fearless near the top. We didn't have to climb up that rock--there were well-formed steps with railing and chain link on each side.


A tiny cluster of pretty flowers called my name when I saw it beside the steps to the viewpoint.


While the absence of the blue sky day that I had dreamed of made me sad, I still found the clouds slowly drifting through the trees amazing! From the Internet about the trees:

Larch Mountain contains some of the largest old-growth forest strands left in the Columbia River Gorge area, characterized by the presence of many nurse logs. Dominant tree species include pacific silver fir, grand fir, Douglas fir, and western hemlock.


Lamont at the top of the Sherrard Point viewpoint.


Here I am, at the top! I made it! Meehan took this photo for me with my iPhone! It felt terrific to be there in the clouds! That's my best California bud in the background, Danielle. She's Meehan's proud Auntie!


I decided that since I couldn't see distant mountain peaks, I'd take advantage of what I could see--close up--taking photographs carefully over the railing or through the chain link fence.


I even looked down, too!


Thank goodness for a zoom lens!


Another photo that makes me proud to have a zoom lens.


Look at the lines in those rocks! Amazing sight to see atop this extinct volcano. From the Internet about Larch Mountain:

Larch Mountain is the remnant of an ancient shield volcano, with broad slopes covering tens of square kilometers. It is currently the tallest peak in the Boring Lava Field, a volcanic field active during the Plio-Pleistocene time frame. Active between 1.8 and 1.4 million years ago, the volcano is composed mainly of basalts, although the summit at Sherrard Point is composed mainly of iron-rich andesite. Larch Mountain's basalt is tough to distinguish from the surrounding Columbia River Basalt, although the Columbia River Basalt is slightly lighter in color and less brittle. Sherrard Point is the eroded remains of the original volcanic plug.

Sherrard Point was exposed during the last glacial period, when the majority of the mountain's peak was destroyed by glaciers. The glaciers carved a large cirque into the mountain, forming a large lake. Over time, the lake was filled with sediment, and today the area is now a large meadow.


Equally amazing, the lines in the remains of this tree.


I couldn't get enough of these tiny beauties beside the rings in that tree trunk. Wow!


On the way back to the car, one more photograph of the beautiful forest.


Found on the path; I wonder what kind of bird used to have this particular feather?


You can see the descent of the path to the left of these rotting tree trunks.


Yes! Here are the four people who helped me overcome my visceral fear of heights: Lamont, Leland, Danielle, and Meehan. You for rock! Thank you so much for helping me achieve my goal and make great memories!


This photo of a happy me with equally happy Danielle and Meehan gives you an idea of the size of the forest, the paths. We used the path on the left, both directions; Leland asked me if I cared if he took the path on the right back to the car. Of course I told him it was fine with me, to be careful. I have my foot on the low retaining wall where I rested back in 2012, steeling myself for the walk back to my Zipcar.


Love this photo of my sweet sons on each side of me. I am blessed!


We're almost to the parking lot. I really like the determination to survive for years and years that I see in this tree trunk, curved up amid the towering nearby trees, seeking light. That's what we all need to survive--determination.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Twenty-one days ago, I met a goal! Part One: The Back Story along with some beautiful flowers

In early June, I wrote this on a calendar as a goal-setting part of the On the Move process then going on at work, bound to get those of us who would participate into better shape: Sometime after June 24, walk Larch Mountain trail to viewpoint with Lamont and Leland. After June 24 because that would be the end of On the Move as an organized process, and we were asked to set a long term goal. Little did I know that not only would my two sons accompany me, but also two dear friends visiting from California, Danielle and Meehan. There's a back story to why I picked Larch Mountain and the viewpoint and reaching them as my goal.


I had a vacation day and a Zipcar July 30, 2012, and planned to drive into the Columbia River Gorge to enjoy myself. As I drove through Troutdale on my way to the Historic Columbia River Highway, I decided to take the road to Larch Mountain to see if I could walk from the parking lot to Sherrard Point, the viewpoint at the end of that short trail. I had seen photos of the hand rail and chain link fence surrounding the area, so I felt safe as relates to my fear of heights. I jumped to the conclusion that seeing those photos meant that the trail also had a railing along it. Nope.

I posted about my efforts on September 13, 2012: Life's path, filled with ups, downs, and curves into the unknown


According to the Exif info about this photo at my Flickr account, I took it on July 30, 2012, at 3:32 p.m. PDT. Those are facts. Later on I realized it's a fact that the image is a fine metaphor for life. Life is not always a smooth direct path with its end always in sight. And along the way, one must stop and assimilate what has gone before, one must seek the best help and knowledge about how to continue, one must strive no matter the circumstances, and one must never, ever give up. And now and then, one must seek help from those in your life who love you because of who you are.

I stood here, took this photo, and thought about what I was doing on a the narrow path, paved, thankfully, but still situated on the steep side of Larch Mountain, very near the top of the 4,055 foot peak. I knew not where the bottom of those trees on the right actually touched Earth because, in my ever-present fear of heights, I could not get myself to look that direction except in a speedy straight-out glance, much less follow with my eyes a tree trunk downward, out of sight. To do so meant I just might lose control of myself for an all-important instant and go right on over the edge. The fear of heights is nothing if not irrational. My choices, turn around and walk the short distance back to the parking lot or continue down that slight slope and go around that gentle curve that went somewhere I couldn't yet see and continue on towards Sherrard Point at the top of Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. I took slow, deep breaths, softly talked to myself out loud--after all, I stood there alone so no one would overhear me dealing with my fear--and stepped forward. I didn't know what would happen next, but I had faith in myself to deal with it successfully. Faith based on my ability to face whatever life brought my way. I'd made it this far, hadn't I? Not without help over the years, of course. I could hear everyone who had ever loved me telling me, "You can do this." I kept walking.


I never followed up on that post with what happened next--I don't remember why. I do remember that when I had walked farther than photographed in this photo that I could see steps made from what looked like railroad ties going I knew not where, nor did I know how many of them existed, but I did know that there were no hand rails alongside the steps.


I sat down to get my breath on a low retaining wall made of the same ties--you can just see it on the left side of the photo--and tried to convince myself to go on, without success. I then convinced myself that I could make it back to the car in the parking lot without all of a sudden losing control of my body and going of the edge of the hand-rail-less path.


I took this photo on the way back to the car--remember this rotting tree trunk. The photo's deceptive in that it looks like I'm on an innocent, nearly level path in beautiful woods. All those trees to the left of the path have their roots way down below the level of this path. I have no estimate of how many feet below because I never looked over the edge. I concentrated in walking on the right side of the path.

I visited Vista House, Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls in the Gorge, then drove on home, mixed feelings running through my body. It had been a fine drive on the road to Larch Mountain, lots of beautiful trees and flowers sprinkled beside the road. I got out of that Zipcar intent on doing something I'd never even gotten close to doing before. When I had realized that there was no railing along the path, I didn't turn around and go immediately back to the car. I kept walking. So, the mixed feelings brought about by partial success stayed with me for miles and miles and through enjoying those waterfalls. Finally, I believe they steeled me to making an effort again, but next time I would make certain that my two sons went with me, walked alongside me if necessary, so that I could make it to Sherrard Point. Impressed, and surprised, by my solitary effort, they agreed to do just that. More on that in the next post.

Extra treat for you, photos of various flowers I found, either along the rode to Larch Mountain's parking lot or on the path from it to Sherrard Point.