Here are two objects that I have carried around with me for most of my life, still in daily use. This composition was intended to create a balance between the vase and the metronome, and as a result the form is only partly evident as you see, particularly of the vase.
I was a flute student in high school years when my parents gave me this metronome at the advice of my flute teacher, for playing long tones, and for its more typical use of measuring tempo. I use it continually, and on this day in fact, to gradually work up the tempo of a Telemann piece for unaccompanied flute. I have played these pieces for many years, but continue to learn new ways to interpret them. In the current time of house quarantine, playing the flute and working on new and old pieces with the help of the metronome can absorb hours of time in a mode that seems more of forward motion than static.
The yellow vase is from a time in late teen years when I lived with my grandmother to help her as she recovered from surgery. Every day I would take a short walk uptown to gather a few groceries for cooking dinner and to explore a bit. On one day of gathering groceries, I went for a moment into a fashionable clothing shop for women, and here was this vase, used as part of a display. It attracted me far more than the clothing in the shop, and I asked if it might be for sale. The shopkeeper checked and came back to tell me that I could buy it. At the time, in the early 1960's, it was expensive, $30.00. I didn't hesitate, but went back to my grandmother's house with groceries to cook, plus this vase that I bought with my own meagre supply of cash. I have used it countless times for flower arrangements, on tables where sunlight could come through the window and like a prism reflect warm yellow light beyond the surface of the glass. I try to take care of both this vase and the metronome, since I have had them for such a long time. Any objects like these that we have had for a long time do not seem to be replaceable.
Ancient Order of United Workmen Temple in process of demolition 2017
This structure, shown in the Lost Spaces Gallery, was a fascinating sight in downtown Portland, a building in disrepair in direct contrast to the contemporary architecture around it.
Designed by Justus F. Krumbein, a prominent Portland architect in the late 19th century, it was completed in 1892. and at one point was the home of the Oregon Historical Society. In recent years it remained empty without much change, until 2015, when the City of Portland removed the building from the city’s Historic Resource Inventory, having deemed it unsafe. (Source: Wikipedia entry for the Ancient Order of United Workmen Temple).
Demolition was planned to begin in August, 2017. On one of those days I happened to be driving by, and noticed that the destruction of the building had begun. I raced home to collect my camera and returned to the site to walk around the entire block, and to observe the action from above in an adjacent parking garage. This scene drew quite a crowd particularly of downtown workers at lunchtime, who similarly paused in their day to watch the machinery in action. With its removal, it was an historic month of change in this specific downtown neighborhood. In the general vicinity there remain some older buildings still in use of the approximate vintage as the United Workmen Temple.
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Blue Heron Paper Mill, 2015
Similarly, the images of the Blue Heron Paper Mill in Oregon City show a place with a fascinating history, a silent ruin of a space. At one point, tours could be arranged to visit sections of the old mill, that I attended through a photography group I belong to. On the appointed day we were given hard hats to wear for the limited tour as we listened to a guide tell the story of this place. It was fascinating to hear the story of workers and production in a place that was now silent and empty, layered with the history of this site when it was the Charcowah village of the Clowewalla (Willamette band of Tumwaters) and the Kosh-huk-shix village of Clackamas people. In August, 2019, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde finalized their purchase of this site at Willamette Falls, restoring ownership of their original homeland.
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Local Architectural History:
Portland organizations such as the Architectural Heritage Center offer opportunities to learn about the architectural history of Portland through walking tours, lectures, and exhibitions, providing fascinating insights about local places that can be significantly different from what we see at the present time.
The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is a wildlife preserve with 222 acres of Oregon white oak and Douglas fir located in the rural area west of the Portland. Busy roadways with high fences border a section of the park, but once on the trails through the woods I found it is easy to forget the encroachment of sound and fast motion at the margin of this place.
The wide pathways provide for an easy and quiet walk through this peaceful place, structured and maintained to create a separation from the off-trail tangle of botanical profusion that provides protection for wildlife. Looking beyond the paths, I could see that it would be quite easy to become lost in this space without the trails to follow. At this time of year, the early spring growth in shades of red and yellow add depth of color to the lichen-filled oaks and understory.