Saturday, April 2, 2011

Shopping to Make Up for a Rotten Day (04-02-11)

I needed my signature notarized on four documents. Easy enough... Well, it wasn't that simple after all. After going the local branch of out bank, and finding out that there was no notary present, I was sent to another branch 15 minutes away, where there would be, I was told, no waiting. I got to the second branch, to be roughly told by one of the two notaries present that it would be a long wait. And it was. It took 30 minutes to finally talk to her. The documents in my possession all contained one paragraph in French, with the same text written in English underneath. Only, the woman did not feel "comfortable" notarizing my signature because of the French text. She wanted to know what it meant. I was stunned. Since when do notaries busy themselves with interpreting the contents of a document?! Despite pointing out the translated portion to her, she wouldn't budge.
The branch supervisor told me that the other notary was willing to look at my document. Fair enough. However, before I could talk with her, I'd have to wait till she was done with her customers, a couple with a young boy and a wailing baby. So I waited...40 minutes before her customers were gone, wailing baby and all. By then, I had developed a massive headache. Yes, this notary would sign my document. But only if I showed her a copy of my marriage certificate (which in 30 years of marriage, I have never had), or a Belgian passport with my maiden name on it, and a birth certificate. I had no choice. On the way home, my head pounding as I was driving, I called Gary, to ask him to locate my old passport. Something was wrong with the Bluetooth and the phones once again, because there was screeching metallic-sounding interference, with Gary's voice coming through the noise, asking "... passport? Where? I can't hear..." I got home and staggered out of the car, me and my headache. As I opened the door to the kitchen, Gary handed me the passport and birth certificate, and he told me that I had no patience. I snapped back that I have all the patience in the world! I just waited one hour at a bank, to get no service! With the passport and certificate in hand, I turned around and got in my car, to make another 15-minute trip back to the bank.
After close examination of my passport, and after I provided an impromptu translation of the birth certificate, the notary finally relented and certified my signature. From start to finish, the entire process took four hours!.. (and when I got home, I realized that I was missing a sentence on each, nullifying the entire effort).

So, to make up for my bad day, and because I needed clothes for the warmer seasons (I never have any problem finding winter clothes, but hardly ever find any summer clothes that look flattering), I went to Macy's, and they had some big clearance sales. I bough some sleveless blouses and a pair of jeans, and a flowered top that would look gorgeous in a 1920s style outfit...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stranded at the Rural Auction (03-29-11)

I was at the rural auction, killing time while waiting to be picked up by my husband and... (Ahem... a long story that will be better told on my No Ducks and Bunnies blog).

Inside the big building where they have the household goods auctions, I surveyed the scene. At the auction, week after week, one sees the same people, the junk and the antique dealers, the occasional curious, farmers, field workers, and many Hispanic, Ukrainian or Russian immigrants. It's a large loose group of people, some one says hello to, some one avoids, some one hands off unwanted purchases to... But everyone is there with the same purpose: to make a deal, to find the perfect, -or almost perfect- item, something to fix, to re-use, or to re-sell.
Inside the auction building
There is something heartbreaking about the sorry possessions strewn around, the scratched furniture, dented appliances, faded clothing, ribbons and threads, used toiletries, greasy pots and pans, chipped plates, broken toys, and other junk, sold off by the box, the sad remnants of torn, displaced lives.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Matthew Brehm Workshop (03-27-11)

Matthew Brehm was an instructor at the Urban Sketchers Symposium last year. He came back to Portland to teach a workshop for the benefit of the Portland Urban Sketchers group and others who were interested in learning Sketching techniques from an architectural standpoint.

The workshop was held in the community room at People's Coop, in our old neighborhood. I was running a few minutes late, as always, but first had made a stop at St Jack's, the new bakery/restaurant on Clinton and 21st to pick up a hot chocolate and a (superb) ham and cheese croissant.

It was pretty interesting! I usually have difficulties sitting for long periods of time without getting distracted, but this was an excellent presentation, with photos, examples, suggestions... Where the presenter focuses on buildings foremost, and sees people as incidental to the setting, I favor people vs. surroundings. It's just a different approach to the same problems.

We had some time for lunch (I took the opportunity to pay a visit to I've Been Framed; they have great prices on art supplies), then we met downtown at Pioneer Courthouse Square (and I was late again...) to work on some sketches.
Pioneer Courthouse

While I was drawing Pioneer Courthouse, I was thinking of the days when the first floor was a charmingly old-fashioned post office, austere and cavernous, and when the decision was made, against the wishes of many and despite the heroic efforts of a few, to close the post office and, in effect, to turn the old courthouse into a quasi-private legal bastion, retrofitted with parking spaces under the building for the benefit of some federal judges. Alas, it has happened...

In rain and in cold...
The weather was wretched and cold, so it was quite startling to see a wedding group taking photos on the square. The bride was pretty, but, wearing a bare-shouldered dress in pouring rain, I can't imagine she was comfortable. The bridesmaids also wearing bare-shouldered, short satin dresses almost looked blue from the cold... It started raining pretty hard, and a few drops of rain fell on my sketchbook.

We then went to Central Library, and spent some time sketching inside.

An interesting collection of old papers and photographs from one of the early prominent families was displayed in the glass cases on the third floor, with some nice editorial sketches, all done in a quill pen dipped in ink...

Then, when we were done, we met again and looked at each other's sketchbook.

It was a fine day.

All the sketchbooks...