‘Salem’ Category


And What Is So Rare

06 lowellLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – “And what is so rare as a day in June?” I ask on this last day of the month. That’s the leading line of a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), here’s the full verse:

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune, And over it softly her warm ear lays; Whether we look, or whether we listen, We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.”

I had a friend who kept 366 journals. He built enough shelves all around the room to accommodate 366 notebooks labeled only with the month and day, not the year. February 29 didn’t have nearly as many pages as the other 365, he explained as he’d lift a notebook and tell you exactly what he was doing, or thinking, on a precise day, as far back as fifteen years! I admired his tenacity, but the revelation was how our feelings, and perceptions, change over time. even when the planets are aligned the same. Because we have new experiences? Because we get older, slower, wiser? I decided to go back to the first year of the Journey and revisit my “Junes,” checking for rarity. » read more



Linda Burton posting from Edmonds, Washington Fifty State Capitols has an IPPY now! I’m talking about the book, Fifty State Capitols, The Architecture of Representative Government, authored by Jim Stembridge and published by Coho Publishing. Jim stopped by yesterday on his way back to Salem from New York, where he accepted the award, and I got to meet his wife Joan, and the big black dog that helped him research the capitols, Ruth. I was glad to be able to congratulate Jim in person on such an accomplishment, and pleased that he brought me a copy of the newly bronze-stickered book. An IPPY! Jim’s book received the 2012 Bronze Medal in the Architecture category by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It was an event that involved the best of independent published works internationally; just look at the photo of Jim accepting the award; blue ribbons around his neck and a big smile on his face. Something to be proud of! » read more


And The Beat Goes On

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – Get Mom on it. Make that two moms with young daughters, who are determined to make something good out of something bad. Start with a gem of an idea, stir in 15 years of innovative thinking and hardworking community volunteering, and what do you have? A success story, that’s what, in the form of the Salem Multicultural Institute, gearing up for another big festival on the last weekend of this month. What started out as a poster paper sketch in 1997 is now Oregon’s largest multicultural event. It has won numerous awards, engages over a thousand volunteers, welcomes over 33,000 visitors, and continues to grow. Those two moms, Kathleen Fish and Mona Hayes, simply wanted to form a positive response to incidents of racial intolerance in Salem. » read more


Cut the Cheese

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon  –  “Have you ever tried a Boerenkaas?” Marita Powell asked. Having grown up on Velveeta, I confessed that I had not. I’m at the tasting counter at Willamette Valley Cheese, along with a couple who has been here many times before. Richard has his list in hand, is X’ing in the box beside the ones they like. Marita cut off tasting bits and placed them on our tiny trays; “The Boerenkaas is Gouda,” she explained. “And strong. People either like it, or they don’t.” We did. The three of us approved and scanned our lists for the next delicious thing to try. Patricia and I favor the Havarti line, we ask for Blueberry, Cranberry, Horseradish, and Herb de Provence. Marita tells us stories of each cheese; gives serving notes. “The Blueberry is excellent on salads,” she offered; one was great in chili, add this one to soup, that one for fondue. I goofed, I realized, I wasn’t taking notes, my memory and my palate were confused. My tasting tongue was happy with them all; the strong, the sharp, the acid bite, the creamy mild. Smoked Gouda, Garlic Pepper Jack, French Prairie Brie. Which ones to buy? » read more


The Wheels on the Bus

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – The buses brought the kids today. Three loads of them were sitting on the capitol steps as I approached; the girls were singing in a chant “Elvis Presley, girls are messy,” hands clapping on the beat. I pushed through the revolving door of the Oregon state capitol and found myself in the rotunda just as a group of students approached the center, taking their place around the seal embedded in the floor. The tour guide stepped beside me, “You’re welcome to join us,” he said and so I stayed, intent on hearing the story of the seal. It shines like gold, but the guide explained that it was brass. He pointed to the elk, the sheaf, the plow, the axe. He talked about the covered ox-drawn wagon, symbolizing the pioneers that came to Oregon. Then he pointed to the ships – one coming towards land, the other sailing away. “One is an American ship,” he said, “and one is British. Do you know why the British ship is going away?” The children waited expectantly for the next line. » read more


Elephant DNA

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – Arturo was chopping on the block in his red official carver’s apron. “Don’t you need goggles?” I asked. “Not with chunks this big,” Arturo laughed. “But yes, if I’m using the bandsaw.” I’m standing in the Carving Room at the Salem Riverfront Carousel, a room that is crowded at the moment with volunteers, carving tools, chunks of wood, and detailed drawings of elephants and frogs. I’d found the place by accident; Olessya had brought her siblings to ride the carousel; when I asked for directions to the place she told me there was carving going on today. “Go to the second door,” she said. Irene opened the door and let me in. “The carousel animals are hand-carved,” she explained, “all by volunteers. Right now we’re carving new animals, so we can change them out each month. We’ll have special ones throughout the seasons, too. That way there will always be something new.” A would-be elephant took up the center of the room, that’s what Arturo was working on today. “So this will be an elephant?” I rubbed my hand against the wood. “It doesn’t smell like an elephant, or look like much of one either, right now. It doesn’t even have a trunk.” » read more


Go Tell Aunt Rhodie

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – The Pacific Northwest is the rhododendron place. Everybody knows that. It’s the weather, the soil, the everything. Rhodies flourish in every color, size and shape; and though they bloom throughout the year, May is the crowning month. I arranged my schedule for arrival in the Pacific Northwest at Rhodie Time, and rolled into Salem eager to see the gorgeous flowering shrubs; I was not disappointed. The capitol grounds were lush with purple rhododendron and that stunning rosy pink, standing out like post-it notes against a backdrop thick with evergreens; tall firs and spruce; a Sherwood forest in the heart of town. At my hotel the purple must be ten feet tall at least; the pink is past its prime, time to deadhead soon. I pull dead blooms when I go by; can’t help myself, a habit from the past. On the counter at the restaurant, I spot some rosy pink; a rhodie catalogue, I thought. But no, it said Adelman Peony Gardens, 2012. Peonies? I took a copy to my seat and turned the page. » read more


Like Little Bear’s Porridge

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – “Jim Stembridge of Salem, Oregon loves state capitols. You will love them too, once you read his book about the 50 of them.  Like Little Bear’s porridge, this book is Just Right. It isn’t a heavy-duty, hardbound coffee-table book that’s hard to fit on your lap. It isn’t filled with endless facts and figures that you simply don’t want to wade through. Nor is it one of those slapped together 101’s, where inspiration unfortunately gives way to glib.You will enjoy reading it, and you will be satisfied with the logistics and consistency of it. I’ve always wanted a collection of capitol photographs. This book offers that – left hand page, alphabetical order by state – a full-page color exterior shot. You can flip through the book and easily find the one you want, or just enjoy them one after the other. These are not glam shots, touched up to a too-pretty perfection. Stembridge puts you there; you get a sense of place, as though you were standing on the sidewalk beside him.”

I wrote this review of Jim’s new book last July, and today, I did “stand on the sidewalk beside him,” right here in his home town of Salem. Jim is a Board Member of Capital Cities USA, so over lunch we talked about how the Journey is progressing, and we talked about his book. I wanted to hear more about how he came to write it. » read more


Tell Me About It

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – I ask everybody where they like to eat; it’s how you find the good places in a town that’s new to you. And knowing where people eat is one measure of a town, it gives a sense of what the people there enjoy. I stopped at an excellent trusted chain my first night in Salem, and when the manager stopped by my table to thank me for coming in, I asked him what “other” restaurants he would recommend. “I’m not looking for the most elegant,” I clarified, “I’m just interested in where people really enjoy going.” He sat down at my table, seriously thinking about his answer. “I eat out a lot,” he told me, as he jotted down some notes, “and to me the entire package is important.” We discussed what we appreciated in a restaurant – good food, of course; good service, parking, and location; but most of all, the right atmosphere. It’s that indefinable thing that’s hard to rate called, simply, love. “You can tell when an owner, or a chef, loves the business they’re in,” he said. And you can tell when people love to go there, too. It’s called “word of mouth,” meaning they tell other people about it. Rob handed me his notes, nicely categorized into the three basic meals of the day, three restaurants listed for each meal. “That should keep you busy while you’re here,” he smiled. » read more


That Very Pleased Look

Linda Burton posting from Salem, Oregon – Put your compass on the Salem map point. Now, draw a circle 100-miles around. This center-of-the-universe view reveals the truth of it – Salem is positioned right smack between the “mountains and the deep blue sea.” Take this varied terrain, add the fact that the climate is mild year-round, and there you have it: the perfect earth-air-water recipe for an out-of-doors way of life. East are the Cascade Mountains; Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, Mt Washington, Three Fingered Jack; the Mt Jefferson Wilderness and the National Forests – Mt Hood, Willamette, and Deschutes. West are the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon beaches; Lincoln City, Tillamook, Newport, Agate Beach, Yachats, the Florence dunes. Also to the west is the Coast Range, Mary’s Peak the highest point at 4,097 feet. All of this is home to bear, elk, deer, beaver, and many species of birds and fish. Let’s talk about fish, and that statue of former Oregon governor Tom McCall, standing by the Willamette River in Salem’s Riverfront Park. » read more