Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Portland’s Pietro Belluschi

I first learned of Pietro Belluschi in high school when my art teacher, Mrs. Goodman, was half in love with him.  She was in love with LLoyd Reynolds, too, the calligrapher.  But she ran off with the principal.  Never mind, that’s another story.

Pietro Belluschi was born in 1899 in Italy and came to Portland as a 24 year old in 1923.  Trained as an engineer, he joined the prestigious A. E. Doyle architectural firm. He became partner with Doyle in 1933, then took over the business in 1943.  In 1951 he went to MIT as the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. He designed the Equitable Building in Portland, which was the first glass curtain-wall construction in the nation, the first completely sealed and air conditioned skyscraper in America.  Other notable buildings of his are Zion Lutheran church (which my class took a field trip to see) and the Portland Art Museum.  Between Portland and Massachusetts, he designed over 1000 buildings.  He died in 1994.

In commercial buildings, his firm followed the evolving International Style, but in his private commissions Belluschi stayed with regional traditions and native materials. 

The house of Belluschi’s that I saw on my view of historic homes was built in 1980.  Initially, it appears rather unassuming, sitting on a grassy hillside out on Old Germantown Road.  But what a privilege it was to get to see it!  The current owners are an architect and a professional musician who has a recording studio on the lower level and a Bosendorfer piano in the living room.  This couple made improvements in 2009, extending the living space into the exterior with a pool, a green house, a meditation pavilion, a guest house, and a waterway through the conservation sensitive habitat.10-07-31-14-37-54H

The walkway above leads to the greenhouses and guest cottage.  Landscape architects designed.10-07-31-14-12-15H View from the living room/ dining room

The floor plan is open, a natural stone fireplace dominating the center  and the kitchen open to the living areas, below:

10-07-31-14-20-15H  One would need to keep a tidy kitchen!10-07-31-14-20-37H 10-07-31-14-37-39HIn the background, the meditation pavilion and pool.  The architect’s home office is just behind where I am standing.

10-07-31-14-39-37H 10-07-31-14-42-07HInside the meditation pavilion, the sliding doors are open to the gardens

10-07-31-14-43-38H Look through the water to see the steps designed by current owner, architect M. McCulloch

My Dad was enthralled with the character and quality of the concrete work.   I, myself, was still attached to the Arts and Crafts  “goopier” styles of the earlier homes we’d seen.  But Dad and Mom always did like Scandinavian, streamlined designs.  I like cozy corners and nooks.10-07-31-14-43-53H This building is the architect’s office.  When he gets stressed, he steps out to the pool!10-07-31-14-43-55H 10-07-31-14-43-58H The main house,  view of the kitchen corner ^

This acreage was designed to become a wildlife sanctuary and watershed for the local creek. 

 10-07-31-14-45-58HBathroom and shower room (beyond frosted panel) in the pavilion used stone slab sink, stone floors, and natural light.

I was impressed with how smoothly the additions made in 2009 continue Belluschi’s design.  There is no interruption between old and new.  Maybe that is because Belluschi was so forward thinking, perhaps it is that the current architect followed the same line of thought (of course).  This is a place of great simplicity and harmony, seen at its best on this glorious summer day while the bees were buzzing in the lavender.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taming the Dragons

09-07-04-11-20-46H Three events have triangulated my thoughts in the past few days, and have me penned into this corral without seeing an escape but to talk about it.

First, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson. Secondly, many Facebook requests came asking me to “post this flag to show you remember 9/11” .  Third, I read a blog written by a school acquaintance “The Way of Love” 

These three strains are not of equal importance but somehow as I have walked in the mornings they have gotten tangled together.  Let me dispense with the easiest first: On September 11, I awoke with the thought in my head that it was 9/11, and my mind went back to that morning when we were having our new roof put on but the roofer called to cancel because he wanted to watch TV!  After I got over my indignation and understood what he was saying I, too, spent the day watching the TV.  The next day the roofer came and we watched it together, crying in my living room.  I remember, all right.  I don’t have to go far to remember how it was then,  I don’t have to be pushed to remember.   I don’t mind putting a flag on my Facebook to show that I still care about what happened.  If that’s what people are doing to cheer themselves up, I don’t mind being a part of their numbers.  I did not, however, choose to post the flag because it seemed to have a political agenda attached to it and I did not know what it was or where it came from.  I realize I am on thin ice with some of you here and I hope you will not take me wrong in this: I love my country and am patriotic and proud of it!   But patriotism and remembering 9/11 does not belong to the “Being Conservatives” who were named as sponsors of the FB campaign.  I felt that it was inappropriate to inject a political position on a day of mourning and remembrance.  I probably am a conservative if you need to know that (you don’t) but caring about the people who gave or served their country , whether on 9/11 or any other day, is not the province of a particular group and I resent for all of us the suggestion that some groups ‘care’ more than others.

If I haven’t offended you yet, I probably will now.  I don’t want to but it can’t be helped.  I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because a group of people in a group I was travelling with were reading it for their book club.  I went to the library to check it out but there were 1,200 names on the waiting list for 215 books, so I ended up buying it.  By then I was doubly invested in it, book club sportsmanship and cash dollars.

The book seemed to me almost schizophrenic, two quite different story lines getting braided together but not really becoming one.  I suppose that’s like a bad marriage.  On the one hand we have a stoic financial journalist who appears devoid of feeling even in the most compelling situations—at least, his enthusiasm is reserved for his investigations and not the people in his world.  Then we have the other main character who is his antithesis: uncommunicative until she is pushed past her limits and then violence, revenge, is her response.  I wondered why she had no resources for normal communication, for talking over things with people who might have helped her early on.  Her power was her hatred, now, and the suggestion is that revenge is an effective tool for achieving justice.

At first, I chose not to write a review on this book because it is graphic and deals with gross sexual offenses.  Most of my blog readers and in fact my friends wouldn’t read this book or wouldn’t finish it.  But everywhere I go now I see people reading it and I know there are a lot of people on the wait list at the library, so I speak to it. 

It is horrific, what people do to other people, whether by cheating them for their own profit, or by overpowering them physically for their own gratification.  And one generation hardly has time to clean up the mess of the previous generation’s (meanwhile creating their own) before they die out.  So it goes in this story, trying to rectify the past. 

I noticed the similarity of the landscape, frozen, cold, wintery Sweden to the character of Blomkvist, the investigator, and the quick-paced, impulsive Lisbeth echoes the helter-skelter city.  I realized this morning how particularly loveless this book was:  there were human families and sexual relationships but even in the back history to the current story the family life was paltry, unloving and worse, hateful.  The elderly are staid and immovable(frozen), the younger ones are out of control: so, in effect, what is the solution?

Which brings me to the blog I read on a proper response to being wounded or attacked.  “The Way of Love” suggests that turning the other cheek is the only way we can regain the kind of world we want to live in.  We have been offended, certainly, both attacked and wounded personally by individuals and corporately by political extremists.  What do we do with all this hate which has ignited a spirit of retaliation in us? 

Revenge is a common instinct, but although it may satisfy our sense of fairness, what does it promote?  More hate, more fear, more violence.  The verse I keep thinking of is “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.” (Romans 12:19) How will He repay?  Will He do it harshly, like I want Him to, to make those awful people suffer?  Do I trust Him, or do I need to be in charge of the way He is doing things?  Can I trust Him to be the Judge of others?

This is so hard.  I am such a lover of justice that I spend a lot of time sputtering fruitlessly when I hear how other people have been offended.  It bugs me when people are taken advantage of financially and I want redress.  So it is not my first reaction to respond lovingly to wrong doing or doers. 

But God’s Word says: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” (I Thess. 5:15)  And the 2 basic tenets of the Christian faith are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves.” (Matthew 22:39) 

Furthermore, the way of forgiveness and love is the way to joy!  "Judge not , and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." 

The great danger of anger is bitterness and revenge, wounds which destroy us as well as those around us.  Even “righteous anger” needs to be expressed in a righteous way.  Let us determine to remember to run to God for help, learn to forgive, and learn to love more and more, outside our comfort zone.  This is how I hope to remember 9/11, by loving more.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day Weekend--Summer’s Last Fling

We took off as soon as we had the car and trailer packed and the groceries loaded into coolers and the gas in the car and the new bikes pumped with air….10-09-02-12-13-43H

We headed off to Sunset Bay State Park to camp for a few days with friends Patti and Mike who were heading back to Lake Havasu after a 3 month camping trip going to Minnesota and side-stepping to Alaska—but I digress. That mother-of-all camping-trips is their story and one you should hear. But for today, I speak of our little 6 day outing to the coast.

10-09-01-21-37-22AThe beautiful Umpqua River and reflections10-09-01-16-40-42H 10-09-01-16-39-12H

It was getting to dusk when we arrived finally at Coos Bay and points south. Accompanied by our 2 exchange students who had only just arrived in this part of the world, setting up tents and getting camp set up was a learning experience for all of us. In the dark. One of the boys just wanted to start roasting the marshmallows. I guess that is internationally understood!


The fog had rolled in as we approached the coast (Oh, Lord, what have I gotten us into? What will we do with these boys if it rains? Why didn’t I remember that it always rains at the Oregon coast?) So we got the 2 tents set up and the supper cooked and the boys made ‘Smores under the umbrella. (They don't know that true Oregonians eschew umbrellas.)10-09-03-19-54-20H Then we showed them how their new sleeping bags worked (Later, I found out that one was just using his as a blanket, not being comfortable zipped up).

The next morning was bright and beautifully blue! After a night of freezing and learning again to share a double wide sleeping bag, and hearing the sea lions bark and early morning raucous crows and making it to a standing position after sleeping at ground level on an airbed that bounced and swayed with turns—oh, that glorious bright blue Fall sky was vindication of it all. 10-09-02-08-46-22R

One thing the boys liked was starting and keeping a fire going. More of our meals were made over the fire grate consequently.10-09-02-09-04-49H 10-09-02-09-31-41R

We walked and rode bikes and went to Sunset Bay to see the sights until our friends Patti and Mike arrived. And Ranger, their perfectly behaved Poodle who added quite a bit of entertainment to our weekend. 10-09-02-21-29-20A 10-09-02-21-29-42A

After that, the days blur into a contented swirl of visiting by the fire and trying to get out of the smoke, fixing food, and keeping one young man out of the marshmallows.10-09-02-08-47-10R 10-09-02-13-04-18H 10-09-02-12-25-10H Yecheng (John) 10-09-02-12-50-21H

Jae Won (Alan) 10-09-02-12-55-29H

On Friday evening, kids John and Emily and Amanda arrived just at supper time, and the campfire circle grew bigger and the conversations got more mixed and everything seemed energized. Amanda and John & Emily set up their tents and the rain began! Oh, no!

The kids arrive10-09-03-23-02-34A

10-09-03-19-30-56H 10-09-03-14-19-10H 10-09-03-15-59-50H 10-09-03-16-18-24H 10-09-03-19-28-01H 10-09-03-19-30-53A

But despite a few drips, spirits weren’t dampened. Saturday we went to Shore Acres, the former LJ Simpson estate (timber magnate) which has been maintained as a public park with formal gardens. We stopped to see the sea lions and harbor seals that pile in a heap on the reefs to sunbathe. And it was SUNNY! (Thank you, Lord!) The sun was a special treat to Amanda who was celebrating her birthday that weekend. She loved the walks along the cliffs looking out at the ocean and around at the forest floor. 10-09-04-10-16-16H

Entering Shore Acres10-09-04-11-06-08R

10-09-04-10-26-47H 10-09-04-10-31-15H 10-09-04-10-34-03H

Sunday was chilly in the morning, a mere 44 degrees F. You could tell Fall is in the air with the nighttime temperatures dropping and then the sunny afternoons. We kept pulling our camp chairs into the warm sunny spots and out from the shade as it moved around, and away from the smoke as it blew. (We had earnest fire fanners, did I mention that?)10-09-04-17-38-09A Mike shows Holly the extent of their trip, 15,000 miles so far and not home yet! 10-09-04-11-11-25HJohn and a friendly harbor seal 10-09-04-13-53-44AEmily trying to get warmed up 10-09-04-16-36-40HMike and Patti’s site after the kids arrived.

M&P have a new Edge trailer. 10-09-04-17-31-20HMike’s famous grilled pineapple! Yum!!!

Sunday afternoon the trio Emily, John, Amanda had to leave for their Monday jobs, but the rest of us had the holiday ahead. One more day before school starts! 10-09-04-18-37-36HAmanda’s sunset walk

10-09-05-12-41-44HThere’s a lighthouse out there, too. 10-09-06-12-24-04RSea lions and seals on the rocks 10-09-06-12-25-17H

Harbor Seals sunning themselves while there’s sun!

The ranger came by with a message that Emily’s car had had a breakdown; they had been towed to Reedsport. Various scenarios were evaluated and then Ron and Patti took our 2 vehicles to Reedsport, 1 to let them drive to Portland and 1 to get Ron and Patti back to camp. Then the next day Emily had to bring the rig back to us from Portland, 4-5 hours away, and John had to bring a tow bar down after he finished work, to get Emily’s always- reliable–until-now-Honda home again. I hope they remember the fun of the weekend and not the hassle of it. Cars. A blessing and a curse. Where would we be without them? At home.10-09-06-13-26-48H Arrghhh!

10-09-02-17-59-26A 10-09-03-14-07-39H 10-09-03-14-12-11H 10-09-03-21-48-35A Patti knitting whenever an opportunity arises

My mind is drifting as you see so I will throw in the parting shots of the weekend. 10-09-05-15-18-23AOh, the sun, it feels so good! 10-09-06-08-24-03HOther campers in the neighborhood 10-09-05-11-54-14HForty winks on a narrow bench

At times I think we need to step out of the tenting thing into a small hardtop something-or-other. But then we wouldn’t have heard the California seals barking during the night , having such a loud conversation that the night air carried it 2 miles. And there is something strangely wonderful about having your limbs so cold in the sleeping bag and then turning over into a warm spot. And seeing the stars through the tent roof when you don’t have the rain fly on. But that first night, arriving in a campsite and trying to make it fit and getting tents set up and fixing dinner in the dark ---Oh, then I wish we could just back into our site in a trailer and crawl into bed as is.

At the moment, the boys are happily in school making new friends and finding it not too hard in English, and I am washing all the acrid smoke smell out of even the clothes we didn’t wear, and cleaning up the equipment for the next time.


Plaque on a bench by the viewpoint: ‘I must go down to the seas again’ J. Masefield In loving remembrance of Anton and Priscilla Wold Lerud and this their favorite haunt and in celebration of joyful past memories and those that yet await us along this treasured shoreline”

Amen to that.

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