Sunday, July 31, 2011

Third day of sales

Yesterday's sales here in Portland weren't quite as impressive as Friday's, but we still sold 35 pieces which is nothing to sneeze at!

We had a rare scary moment at this event. A fellow was walking around, belligerently demanding that strangers buy him alcohol. And when I say belligerent, I mean he was downright bullying. He was clearly strung out on something nasty (meth? who knows?) and was itching to cause trouble. I took this photo shortly after he asked my friend Tim (who is helping me run the booth) to buy him alcohol, and then demanding that Tim get into a fistfight with him.

After this, Tim alerted the security personnel (which are present in admirable numbers at this event) and security followed him to make sure he wouldn't cause trouble. Here he's standing in front of the stage where a blues band is performing, yelling at the band members to buy him alcohol.

It didn't last long. Here he's leaving the location (the guy in the bright blue shirt is one of the security people keeping an eye on him) and heading back onto the street. I can only pray he (a) didn't cause any havoc on the street, and (b) he gets some serious help.

Another thing that happened yesterday is Tim -- bless his heart -- managed to avert a shoplifting. Tim's habit is to stand about 15 feet outside the booth and watch people from the outside while I answer questions and conduct sales from the inside. Often people don't know he's associated with me. So sure enough, a fellow picked up a tankard and calmly walked away with it tucked against his chest... right toward Tim. Tim asked if he had a receipt for that tankard, and the guy said, "Hey, I haven't bought yet it, man," -- and returned it to the booth. Phew -- thanks, Tim!

Fortunately the rest of the day passed with no more drama. Remember that these were only two among thousands of happy event-goers, including these two jolly sorts wearing beer steins on their heads. Well, why not? They're just keeping Portland weird, to paraphrase the popular bumper sticker.

Here's an interesting thing I've noticed. Last year there were loads of men walking around wearing their pants around their knees in that ridiculous and offensive fashion statement. Thankfully that fad appears to be fading, and I only saw two examples.

But now the big stretched earlobe seems to be the "thing." Again I say, OUCH.

Another new fashion statement (which, trust me, I like a LOT better than the pants-around-the-knees thing) is these strange toe shoes. Go figure.

And I still got a kick out of the women's shoes. The vast majority of women were wearing sensible sandals, which made these shoe styles all the sillier:

I photographed this woman in the booth next to ours. She was friendly and smiling but a little eerie. Her scarf sported skulls and crossbones, she wore multiple dangling piercings in her nose (click to enlarge), and she had large arm tattoos of skulls. I dunno, which message do I believe? Her tattoos and attire, or her pretty smile?

One of the bands performing yesterday was playing some Blues, and this guy's instrument was a washboard. I wouldn't have thought this could be a legitimate musical choice, but I was wrong. It sounded great!

A man and woman came by wearing great T-shirts. Naturally I didn't say anything about my interest in the subject:

Other great T-shirts for the day:

The urban cityscapes at night are beautiful, even though my photos couldn't do them justice.

Last day of sales today -- wish me luck!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Second day of sales

Oh my goodness, yesterday we had a phenomenal day of sales. We expected Friday to be better than Thursday (which it was) but you know how much better? We sold 43 pieces. Wow!

We began the day at a local Safeway grocery store to get ice. I happened to notice this box of watermelons sporting the proud label of "locally grown" right above the lettering on the box announcing the watermelons came from Bakersfield, CA (way way way down south). Just wondering how local "locally-grown" foods are....

The urban 'scapes from the event's location never fail to fascinate me. I'm a country girl through and through, but a dose of the city once in awhile is wonderful.

There were several bands playing throughout the day. My booth isn't far from the stage, so it can get noisy. I dubbed this group the Shirtless Wonders since they were performing shirtless. It was a warm day but not that warm, so I'm guessing this was part of their schtick? Maybe?

This very nice fellow came into the booth sporting some extraordinary ear-wear. I asked permission to take a photo. All I can say is...OUCH.

Some of the T-shirts du jour:

I thought this was an interesting religious perspective, but apparently it has something to do with a music group.

This photo is for my girls, who love Dilbert.

I thought this shirt encompassed a lot about modern culture.

This shirt was worn by an extremely well-endowed young lady who wasn't afraid to state the obvious.

Anyway as the day progressed and we sold more and more pieces, I removed first the lowest shelf of one of the shelving units...

...then the shelf above that.

When we broke down the booth for the night, we removed one of the smaller shelving units altogether and are down to three units. It's best to keep shelves looking full, so we'll keep removing shelves or even full units as needed.

Two readers made their way to the booth to say hello, both delightful gentlemen whom it was a pleasure to meet. One fellow was lucky enough to visit when there wasn't a band playing and the crowds in the booth were fairly thin, but the other poor fellow came when the stage was noisy and the booth was packed (so I didn't have much of an opportunity to become acquainted). However I wanted to thank both men for taking the time to come say hello.


Friday, July 29, 2011

First day of sales

The first day of my sales event here in Portland was yesterday, and I'm pleased to report sales were awesome!!

This eternally surprises me. In this economy, I always question how or why someone would spend money on something like a wooden tankard... but God bless 'em, they do. We sold 25 pieces yesterday, which was terrific!

When the gates opened at 11:30 am, we ("we" means my friend Wendy's husband Tim, who is helping me at this event) saw these people with hammer heads. Well why not? This is Portland, after all, whose informal city motto is "Keep Portland Weird." Don't thank them, they're just doing their job.

Here's my booth, with Tim sitting in the only real shady spot. The shade is much better in the afternoon, when we truly need it. But this weekend's weather is infinitely better (low 80's) than last year, when we had 105F heat.

I can display about 130 pieces at a time on our shelving units.

I will try to photograph interesting people as I see them. Last year I was fascinated by the plethora of tattoos sported by Portlanders. Here was a very attractive young woman who had one entire leg entirely tattooed.

But this year I'm going to concentrate on T-shirts. This event seems to bring out peoples' most hilarious T-shirts, so I'll chronicle them as I see them.

The crowds yesterday were wonderful. That's one thing I really enjoy about Portland -- it is such a durned friendly city.

Just after posting this from the internet cafe, I'm off to buy a bag of ice (to keep our drinks cold) then pick up Tim and get ready for the day's work. I'll try to take some more interesting photos today -- stand by!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Enjoying Portland

I came here to Portland a day early because originally I had a radio interview scheduled for yesterday, though it was rescheduled for today. NOTE: This morning from 8:00 to 8:30 am (Pacific), I'll be on The Dove Morning Show out of Medford, Oregon (my old stomping grounds!) with hosts Perry Atkinson and Polina Yemelyanova. (Hope you can tune in!)

Anyway, because I got here so early, my friend Wendy and I spent much of yesterday in a coffee shop, writing. This is always a huge treat for me because there's something so wonderful about the camaraderie of sitting with a friend in such an environment -- and we don't live anywhere near a coffee shop in Idaho.

The shop was right near a huge two-story Barnes & Noble.

At one point, while stretching my legs (and more than a little curious), I went into the store to see if they had my book. And they did!

In fact, the book was facing out which, I'm told by Wendy (who knows more about these things than I do), is a good thing. Makes sense, doesn't it, that a book which has a cover facing out will catch the eye more than a spine facing out?

After we finished our writing, Wendy insisted I go in and ask if I could sign the books, which I did. Then the clerk gave me a business card for the correct contact person to arrange a booksigning. It looks like I'll be doing some publicity stuff in Portland in late October or early November -- a couple of booksignings (Powell's, Barnes & Noble) and possibly some morning television shows. I'll keep everyone appraised!

Anyway afterward we walked briefly through the mall attached to the Barnes & Noble. I seldom see the inside of malls anymore, so this is always fascinating -- especially the bizarre shoe fashions, which gave me a good chuckle.

I always try to imagine wearing these around the farm. Mucking out the barn, anyone? Cleaning the chicken coop? Weeding?

Late yesterday evening Wendy and I took a long walk with her dog around the adjacent neighborhood. She and her husband live right next to an old neighborhood of drop-dead beautiful homes, and half the pleasure of walking the dog is looking at the homes.

As I write this, we're sitting in a different coffee shop not too far from her house, which has internet access as well as this amusing announcement:

A few moments after posting this, I'll be returning to her place and getting ready for my radio interview, which I'll do from their basement.

This afternoon will be my first day of tankard sales. Wendy's husband Tim will be helping me. The weather this weekend is supposed to be perfect -- mid-70's, sunny -- nothing like the hideous 105F we had a couple years ago. Cross your fingers that we have good sales!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traveling to Portland

I am writing this from a coffee house in Portland.

I'm sitting here with my dear friend Wendy, who is also a writer.

As she so succinctly put it, is there anything better in the world than writing in a coffee house with a dear friend?

I traveled to Portland yesterday on a long but uneventful drive. I passed through the verdant Palouse region and noted how many crops I could see: wheat, lentils, garbanzo beans, barley...

Sometimes the fields stretched to the very edge of the sky.

Often I got shots merely by holding up the camera to the window while driving and hoping for the best.

That's a farm, waaaaaay off in the distance, almost on the horizon. (Click to enlarge.)

After about four hours of driving, I passed the Tri-Cities area of southeast Washington and hooked a right toward Portland.

The landscape got much drier, but we were paralleling the mighty Columbia River. This is a huge river. Eventually I also got to see Mount Hood looming up in solitary splendor (middle left).

The Columbia River Gorge is perpetually windy, so it's a natural place to put up those huge windmills, of which there are hundreds.

The farther west I got, the higher and rockier the cliffs become.

And all the time I'm following that mighty Columbia. Here's a barge.

Gradually the terrain became more verdant the closer I got to Portland.

About 30 miles outside of Portland I decided to take a small indulgence, which was to get off the main highway and follow the Historic Columbia River Highway for 14 miles, which has spectacular scenery and many waterfalls.

I stopped at Horsetail Falls to stretch my legs.

Here's the very very top of the falls. Notice the log across the stream.

Here's the bottom of the falls.

Next I stopped at a place called Oneonta Gorge.

The bridges along this historic highway are works of art.

The path along the road had a pedestrian tunnel through the cliff.

This gorge has a logjam that occurred a few years ago. You can see the scale of the logs by the people nearby.

But the highlight of this scenic area is Multnomah Falls.

At 620 feet, it has to be seen to be believed. Spectacular.

The falls are in two sections: the upper fall is 542 feet, the lower falls is 69 feet. There is a bridge spanning the break between the two. Here a party is horsing around on the bridge.

A few years ago, the girls and I stopped at Multnomah Falls and we hiked up to the bridge. It is spectacular, except the moment -- literally the moment -- you set foot on the bridge, you are instantly drenched with a powerful misty spray. Nice on a hot day, not so nice on a cold day. But oh my gosh, the power of the water!!

The nice thing about Multnomah Falls is it is right off the highway. At 620 feet high, it's a little hard to miss.

Anyway, enough sightseeing. I made it to my friend's house, where I was thrilled to see my book in a place of honor in her kitchen.