Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Market for Fairies and Monsters

Halloween...when the thoughts of children (young and old) turn to "what will I wear?...or perhaps more realistically, "what will I be?" 

This year the Montavilla Farmers Market, as part of its finale for the end of the market season, held a Halloween costume party for the neighborhood children (and yes, many adults indulged their inner child and also came bedecked in costume).  The kids could go to each vendor who would have treats for them.  That's Lilith in the above photo.
Nicolette, a market employee, hisses for the camera.

One is never sure what will happen when two people show up with the same costume.  Fortunately, it looked like the role of hen and rooster was settled quickly.  Erin, the Market's volunteer coordinator is the hen...on the left in case you couldn't tell.

Violeta, another frequent Market volunteer also happens to be "officially sanctioned by Multnomah County Library System as a 'story teller'" (or so says her husband Michael.  She does work for the library) and told stories for the younger children.   

There was also a place for decorating treat bags.  Market volunteer Nancy Jo helps with the coloring.

 Eli and Claire as Luke Skywalker and a butterfly

Chef Jason McCammon helped with letting the kids make ghoulish treats, including "severed fingers" (small weiners wrapped in dough and dipped in ketchup.  Thanks also to Flying Pie Pizza, just down the block, for letting us use their oven to roast the finger treats)

Chef Jason carved this lovely pumpkin just for the market.  Jason also does ice sculptures with a chainsaw, for wedding receptions and other gatherings...if you are interested. 

 This young gnome poses with other gnomes at...yep, you guessed, Little Gnome Farms' stand. 

Remember what I said about kids of all ages?  Here we have what I presume to be..."Peas and Carrots", or Zenger Farms' very own mascot.

 Thomas the Train and his two passengers bears testimony to the ingenuity of their parents. 
Mother and daughter pose for a shot. 

 A young ladybug...but somewhere I recall that the older bugs have more dots?

In addition to the gnomes and fairies, there was the occasional crusading knight.

 One easily associates the Farmers Market with produce, and especially strawberries...though I suspect one won't find too many this late in the season except for this happy one.

When I went to sample one of the "severed fingers", I was quickly asked if I actually helped make one.  Well, no I hadn't, and despite my press credentials they were not going to let have any unless I made here I am.  They were delicious!

What market is complete without a wine purveyor?  King's Raven Winery even had a little skeleton made from cut up plastic milk jugs. 

It was a wonderful wrap-up for the market, and I have to give kudos to all of volunteers and vendors who have made this one of the best farmers markets in the city...and kudos especially to Beth for her organizing this Halloween party.

Yes, I did say this was the end of the season for the Montavilla Farmers market, didn't I?  Actually there will be one more market on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  See you then...and it will probably be too cold for costumes. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Shop of 'Wants'...and other scenes of Astoria.

I recently visited Astoria, Oregon for a business meeting.  As luck would have it, the day turned into one of the best in many weeks with the northern Oregon coast basking in clear blue skies and a warm sun…the sort of day that cause the photographer in us to call it a vacation day after the meeting was over, since these are rare in late Fall.   Good thing I seldom leave home without my camera.

In my wanderings I happened to stop in a little shop. (For those of you who don’t know me well, I’ve been known to frequent antique stores in my quest for vintage cameras or other oddities in general). I also enjoy visiting with store owners when things are slow…and Astoria is one of those towns where things can indeed get slow.  The Recession has not bypassed this town at all. 

Farmhouse Funk is a cute little shop near the waterfront that sells cute merchandise with which one could decorate or equip a kitchen. Alas, no cameras, but I did meet Denise the proprietor, and we talked about the ills of the economy and how we have all had to learn to make do with less. She waved her hand around the store and commented “This is a store of wants. There isn’t anything here that people ‘need’”. I suppose it is true, and many shops like hers struggle to stay afloat.  The number of vacant stores and boarded-up windows bear a stark testimony to those who don't make it.

As one of the oldest communities on the West Coast (celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2011), Astoria has seen the rise and fall of the lumber and fishing industries and is now searching for its next renaissance.   Although the location at the mouth of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean beaches practically a stone’s throw away make this one of the most scenic spots in the state, one is never far from the reminders of Astoria’s glorious past that rivaled San Francisco to the south and Seattle and Vancouver to the north.  

Flavel House was once the home of Captain George Flavel, a river bar pilot and successful business man, and is a fine example of Victorian architecture.

Remnants of old fishing piers that tended ships and supported canneries, and logs that used to go to local mills are now destined for places across the ocean.  The city is rich with history, yet it cannot escape the realities of our current economic malaise with people struggling to make ends meet…and to perhaps survive. 

A decrepit pier, remnants of piling...and a steel structure of some sort are all that remain of a once-flourishing fishing industry (and no, I'm not sure what the devil that structure is!).  The Astoria - Megler bridge in the background connects Oregon with Washington as it spans the Columbia River.

Just a little to the south of Astoria is the town of Cannon Beach, with Haystack Rock in the distance.  This is taken from Ecola State Park.  Despite the melancholy one gets from the demise of industry and the remnants of a past glory, one can always get a lift from the spectacular scenery...that will never fall prey to the vagaries of economies. 

Also, if you happen to visit Astoria and need (or should I say "want) any funky items for your decorating tastes, be sure to visit Farmhouse Funk (, and say hello to Denise.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Child Within Us

Last week I spent a few days in Chicago attending a Professional Services Management conference. As is my custom, I spent an extra day checking out some of the sights of the Windy City, especially since the weather was spectacularly beautiful…much better than the rain in Portland, apparently. In my wanderings I happened across a park with a fountain near the Navy Pier.

Fountains are an interesting thing…they attract kids, and kids become these giddy little balls of squealing energy as the water plays tricks with them. Have you also noticed how unaware children are of people watching them? How unself-conscious they are?

This little girl was enjoying playing in the water…so much so that she didn’t care how wet she became, or how cold the water might be.  It didn’t take much persuasion to have her go back into the fountain for some photos.
How often do we let the child within us out?  When was the last time you cavorted in a fountain, without a care in the world and not worrying about how wet we are?  I suppose that can be figurative as well as literal, and with a media that continuously reminds us of how serious this world is we need to find ways to play.

One of the discussions in my conference was how to involve those of the Millennial Generation in our work places and in our strategic planning. Who are they? “Millennial” is a term apparently preferred by those born after 1980 from a survey conducted by ABC’s Peter Jennings, and are mostly the children of us Baby Boomers. Millennials saw their parents work long hours, and thought "we don't want that". We (collectively) filled their time with sports, dance, and all manner of activity so they didn’t have the free play time us Boomers had when we were growing up. Yes, it’s a different world, but…

One of the characteristics of a Millennial is a desire for balance in work and play, and this is something us Boomers need to take into consideration as we move into management…and towards retirement. We need to recognize this different approach to life if we are to hand over the reins of our companies (and our world) to those following us.

There are a number of differences in perspective between the Millennials and the Boomers discussed in the seminar, and I came away with some good lessons. Not the least of those lessons is a need to not take ourselves seriously. That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard…we do, but we need to play as well.
 We need to let the child within us out…often!