Monday, September 22, 2008

Portland - Day 5: It's a Wrap!

[The author at the Japanese Garden]

It's too damn late to blog, but I'm hooked and I know there are a few kind souls who have been following my exploits and vicariously living off my cheap thrills here in Portland. Speaking of...just as one of the educational sessions was about to start, the speaker, rather than ask us to put our cell phones in "stun mode" (a little Star Trek humor) she referred to it as "cheap thrills setting." I think I'll be getting some mileage out of that one. It's already 11:45 PM and I just got done checking e-mail, verifying my return flight for tomorrow, and downloading about 120 shots from today's events. I culled through the pics and selected a whopping 17 that captured my impressions of today, but if you want to see a whole slew more, click over to Flickr and find them at I seem to have this compulsion to post the more esoteric, rather than picture postcard shots, on the blog.

Let's get this show on the road so I can get to bed. Out the door at 7, loaded with my notes for my next Santa Barbara Homeowners magazine project, and caught
this sunny scene...

...on my way to the DoubleTree for a muffin and a decaf (you don't want to see me caffeinated) and started re-outlining my piece. I had 45 minutes until the first session and got some good work done.

I sat in on three presentations this morning - "What the Web Wants" taking a broad look at different kinds of web sites. I thought it would be more about what writers need to produce in the way of content, and how web writing differs from other media. It was interesting, but no new tools for my toolbox. Up next was "It's Not Necessarily on Google." The presenter was a research librarian at the L.A. Arboretum. A few good tidbits about how to get good info by working with institutional libraries.

The high point of the morning was yet another class on how to make the most of a point and shoot digital camera. Ian Adams covered so much info, my head was spinning. Here's what it looked like from my perspective.

Lunch time / tour time. I got to sit with Shirley Bovshow, a blogger, designer, HGTV host and fun lady. We chatted our way to the first two gardens, one a residence with over-the-top planting combos. It was nice eye candy, but my style and taste just doesn't connect with this much froo-froo. I thought the choice of table cloth behind the pot made for an interesting combo - kinda 50s Barbie colors.

[bizarre - the owner seemed to have such refined taste]

The second stop was just down the road - can't remember the name of the institution, but it had the words "Elk" and "Bishop" in it. Some reporter I'm turning out to be. It was very park-like with little in the way of floral beds or trendy combos. Looks like it's been there for a long time and about as edgy as a John McCain campaign rally. But they had some cool brick paths.

I got pretty bored pretty fast and wasn't ready to shoot a lot of pixels on either garden, so I hoofed it down a long road to where the buses were parked. On the way I caught this turfed drainage swale. I'm guessing the rocks keep cars from parking there. It's too green to be going without water, likely gets mowed with an inefficient, gas mower, and might even get the occasional dose of chemical fertilizer. Murder your lawn, please.

[but I like the photo]

I got to the bus and was enthralled by the gathering clouds and variations of green.

Our next stop was the Chinese garden in downtown Portland. I've had a prejudice against Chinese gardens, in part because I haven't spent much time in them and because I find the Japanese aesthetic so much more natural and in tune with my DNA. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself absorbed in this complex, meticulously maintained garden. I need to revisit when there aren't so damn many garden writers there. My camera class seemed to pay off with this bamboo shot. Plenty more at the Flickr site.

[my nikon point & shoot]

I was happy to find this rock in a pavilion at the garden. Not unlike the Japanese, and likely preceding them, the selections and display of rocks like this create a miniature world that leads the viewer to deeper contemplation of the physical world.

Finally, we were off the the Japanese Garden, which my family had visited when we were here in April. But that was a slow-ending winter and none of the deciduous trees had leafed out. The lighting was, of course, very different. Today, we were fortunate to arrive at about 4 pm, so the longer, softer sun angle was a photographer's delight. Again, lots more at Flickr.

[detail at gravel garden]

[detail at gravel garden edge]

[rail at gravel garden]

[bamboo fence and maple]

It was a short drive from the garden to the Portland Zoo. That's where the banquet was to be held and we had free run of the place as they were closing down. Lovely layout, but my big thrill was seeing a Mandrill up close and personal (though clouded by a Lexan enclosure). Amazing creature and the facial markings are stunning.

As we entered the lobby of the banquet hall, which was unexpectedly grand and comfortable, they displayed a painting by one of their elephants. I'm hoping it was only the brilliant brush strokes that were done by the talented pachyderm, because whoever did the background must have worked for the Hallmark "cutesie" division prior to joining the zoo.

Great salad - greens with a light balsamic vinaigrette, topped with toasted almond slivers and grapes. The chicken was offensively drowned in a cloying sweet and sour relish. Good coffee (that coming from a Peet's snob!) and a fine chocolate mousse cake slice.

Awards were handed out to a lot of likely worthy people (I'm a newbie, so how should I know?) and then everyone got blurry. Couldn't have been my technique. I just took two 45 minute seminar classes.

It's 12:41 AM. I'm heading for dreamsville, daddy-o.


Ross said...

Hi Billy,

I've enjoyed following your Portland pursuits - theres nothing like a Garden Writers Association in Sunny South Africa. Nice Pics BTW...

Frances said...

Hi Billy, I have so enjoyed this travelogue slash seminar. You surely did learn something from all those classes. It seems a bit of a rush from place to place but I guess there is no other way. As for your pix, the rock, the rock the rock, is all my brain wants to engrave in its cells for permanent gazing. Oh to find such a rock, who would need plants? Hope you have a safe trip home and thanks for bringing us along with you.

Shirley Bovshow "EdenMaker" said...

Hi Billy0
You were a fun bus mate! Hey guys- Billy is very funny and high energy in person!

I'm back already and will let you know when my husband and I are in SB!

Mad Man Bamboo said...


Awesome photos my freind, just tells you what a bamboo geek I really am, I'm studying the bamboo photo trying to determine the variety, aye, I'm hopeless.

Pretty cool that you got to hang out with Shirley, she would be a kick to hang out with. Thanks for dropping by my new humor blog.

Sean aka Bamboo Geek

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

Have you ever visited the Garden of the Bishops Close, on the opposite side of the Willametter River from Waverly Country Club?

In you pics, I like the Japanese Garden. Have one decent pic for a header of my landscape advice page at:

Although I don't really enjoy the complete style of Japanese Gardens, I like the detailing, and several design elements that can be incorporated into landscape design in general around the Portland area.

Aiyana said...

Thanks again for this interesting tour.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I'm still giggling at some of your phrases. As edgy as a McCain rally, eh? LOL!

I think you're a fine reporter, Billy. Obviously an entertainment reporter as opposed to a hard-news, facts-first kinda guy. But that's more than fine. :)

Anna said...

The GWA is going to be in my neck of redneckville next year. Raleigh, NC is two ours East of my house.

You'll dine on BBQ all chopped up with a yummy catsup vinegar sauce, banana pudding, and get loads of useless calories. Starve for several months before you get here.

I loved your version of Portland.

kate smudges said...

Oops ... I should have started at Day One, but have landed on Day 5. Since I'm about to turn into a pumpkin, I have to wait until tomorrow to scope out the earlier four days. Darn, I know I'm going to end up dreaming about that tablecloth - it would go perfectly with the pink and purple painted concrete patio stones I saw on a garden tour this summer. Yikes! (Oh, I come from way up north where the buffalo roam.)

Anne said...

that pachyderm drawing looked suspiciously like something from my feng shui guide... could it be... elephant plagarism!!