Saturday, October 18, 2008


Here's Ethan, all bundled up for the Autumn in his Peruvian coat of many colors, what I bought him at the Clinton/Division street fair back in the summer. Ah, the summer street fair, another fixed point in the seasonal calendar, a further locus in the cyclical round of pleasures and joyful happenings that abound in this neck of the woods. September, oddly, hails Oktoberfest. It's an especially big deal down in the otherwise sleepy hamlet of Mount Angel, but Portland has it's share of self-identified "Berliners" - as Kennedy famously and erroneously put it - and, perhaps more importantly, is not the sort of place to pass up the opportunity for a piss-up.

One might imagine that Americans of my generation would have been raised on the same steady diet of "They flew to Bruges" type movies as the average Englishman; but, if that is indeed the case, then the American melting-pot acted as some kind of psychological prophylactic, for they possess none of the prejudices natural to the British sensibility. "Don't mention the war!" doesn't raise a smile here; you might as well stick a golliwog in you cubicle. That said, it's still A-OK to refer to the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys. They are, apparently, the last people it is politically correct to mock. Which is fine by me.

Ethan, who is one eighth German, seemed quite in his element as he wandered around the Oaks Park take on the Bavarian festivities, and danced merrily to the music of the oompah band, sporting his blond mop and little pot belly. To him there will seem nothing sinister about the accent, his mind will not automatically suffix every sentence uttered with the phrase, "...for a thousand years," his blood will not run cold when asked to produce his passport, if indeed he will be asked at all. This we shall call progress.

Note the italics above - few solicitations appear less enticing.

German folk-dancing at Oaks Park Oktoberfest. Absolutely nothing sinister about that. In truth though, how wonderful it is that people devote their time to keeping these traditions alive whilst I flick between the channels on the TV and chase Ethan around with a bucket and mop.

An Aryan m├Ądchen oversees a fertility rite. I know, I can't help myself. Must remember that my witty bon-mots associating all things German with the Holocaust are actually racist and may cause offence.

Partly German. His tummy, I think.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Dan visits - and it's off to the beach

Mr Daniel Clarke visited us last month, much to everyone's delight. With your oldest friends it's as if no time has past since last you met - we found him as sharp and as easy-going as ever; Ethan was especially pleased to find a new chum to assist in building towers from blocks, and Rachel and I enjoyed the excuse to indulge in the best Portland has to offer (and all too often passes us by). This was Dan's first trip to the States, and his fresh perspective reminded me of the alien qualities of my mundane existence - the hot tap being reversed, and having to dial an area code even when you're inside the area, for example.

Mid-visit we decamped for the beach, a very leisurely journey down the Oregon Coast from Seaside to Pacific City over four days. If you're interested you can see some of the places we visited on this map.

Ethan runs along the beach at Seaside.

Ethan and Rachel at Seaside. My abject failure to focus this shot somehow gives it the air of an oil painting.

And here they are again at Manzanita. One of the most wonderful things about Oregon's beaches, beyond their sublime beauty, is the fact that you rarely have to share them with anyone else.

Ethan gazes out towards Cape Lookout, or "The Mosquito Coast," as we dubbed it after being eaten alive.

Some fellow beaching his kayak at dusk in Pacific City.

Surf's up the following morning. Wetsuits essential - 'tis a bit nippy. Not many people realize this, but the sea isn't warm enough to swim in unprotected until you get a couple of hundred miles south of San Francisco.

Thanks to Dan for this great photo of Ethan and I on Lake Oswego!