Lost in Portland, Oregon

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Portland, Oregon. They told me it’d be summer. They said I wouldn’t be cold. They were mistaken.

My impressions? Warm, friendly people. They smile as you pass them in the street. I feel they’d take care to avoid stepping on a humble worm.

The book I’m in

Rich Man’s War, by Elliott Kay. Military sci-fi as a genre has a strange appeal, especially when travelling. This worm puts it down to a camaraderie among people shoved into small spaces under stressful circumstances.

Recommended accommodation

Hotel deLuxe, 729 SW 15th Ave, Portland, OR. The rooms are furnished with care and talent, and the reception is friendly.

The photos

Me outside Portland Central Library:

Worm at Portland Central Library

Storm clouds loom over McMenamins Ringlers Annex, a tavern at the corner of SW Stark Street and W Burnside Street:

McMenamins Ringlers Annex tavern, Portland

The TC and I went for a stroll to explore the city. Our outing progressed in typical fashion. Before setting off, we checked the map and located downtown Portland. On a whim, we diverted to see the Pioneer area. So, we spent a few hours doing what the TC does best – getting lost!

Here’s the Pioneer Courthouse in SW 5th Avenue, Portland:

Portland Pioneer Courthouse

For a different atmosphere, the Portland Outdoor Store in SW 3rd Ave:

Portland Outdoor Store

With apologies for the bleached out appearance of the lighter areas (the TC says the lighting was difficult) here’s a colourful place in SW First Ave:

SW First Ave Portland

They have trams in Portland:

A tram in Portland

After our impromptu tour of the Pioneer area, the TC and I set off again confidently, continuing our quest for downtown. A few blocks later the TC checked the map, only to discover that we’d been heading in opposite direction. (May I say that this is not an uncommon occurrence when going for a stroll with the TC.) The Portland riverside was now nearby, so the TC decided that was where we wanted to be anyway.

The vintage tugboat Portland, moored off SW Naito Parkway:

Historic tugboat Portland

The tug is a paddleboat, lovingly restored, which now houses an exhibition of the Oregon Maritime Museum:

Paddle tugboat Portland

Geese taking off in front of the E Burnside bridge:

E Burnside bridge Portland

The N Steel Bridge in Portland has a bare nuts-and-bolts feel that must surely appeal to engineers:

N Steel Bridge Portland

It’s sad to see that there are homeless people in Portland, as in so many cities around the world. The TC and I saw many homeless people during our ramble. In the middle of this scene is a shelter built of cardboard and black plastic:

Homeless in Portland

On another day, we hiked along the trail from Macleay Park to Washington Park, in the hills above Portland. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was in her element. She’s quite a one for woodsy walks. Moody moss dripped from the trees:

Moss in Washington park

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 24 May 2016 at 9:16 am  Comments (1)  
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Inside the book – Things Unseen by Sarah Maddox

Inside the book – Things Unseen by Sarah MaddoxMy travelling companion, fondly known as the TC, has recently published a book: Things Unseen. It is a psychological romance, or a romantic drama with a strong psychological theme.

Being of a somewhat serious nature, this worm has decided to explore the philosophical and psychological aspects of the book.

“My dear worm,” I hear you say, “the blurb says the book is ‘a combination of sizzling romance, eerie horror, and tense psychological drama’. That doesn’t sound like serious science!”

In my years of exploring and consuming books, this bookworm has found that many a novel has a good solid grounding in “serious science”. That is what makes them compelling reading.

Symbols and dreams

In both Jungian and African (Xhosa) methodologies, symbols are seen as a powerful tool for dealing with psychological problems. Literature also makes good use of symbols and the associations that they so easily bring into the minds of readers.

This worm is particularly taken with the way Things Unseen plays with symbols, mixing  European and African traditions. It makes you think about the implications of two different sets of symbolism meeting at the tip of Africa, mostly unaware of their different world views, and attempting to forge a life together. This has been happening over the centuries in that turbulent part of the world. It is still happening all over the world, in the microcosmic sense, when two people meet.

What do you see when you look at the picture on the cover of  Things Unseen? A ghost, perhaps, looming over a burning house? Perhaps the white cloak and dark face make the figure seem threatening. Or perhaps the figure is instead a symbol from African culture, of a healer dressed in white and hovering protectively over a household in trouble.

Xhosa traditional healers believe that our “ancestors” communicate with us via dreams. The word “ancestor” to a Xhosa person comes loaded with a set of associations and beliefs that Europeans are unaware of. An ancestor is a presence in your mind and in your family, who plays a very definite and beneficial role in guiding your actions and guarding you and your people.

Jungian healers believe that our unconscious communicates with our conscious minds via symbols in dreams.

A book written by M. Vera Bührmann describes the similarities between the treatment methods and philosophies of African witchdoctors and Jungian psychologists. It is a fascinating read, being a personal account of investigations by a Jungian psychologist spending time with a group of Xhosa healers: Living in Two Worlds, Communication between a white healer and her black counterparts (Human & Rousseau, 1984).

Characters or tropes?

A trope is a character type that authors use to call up a set of expectations and images in their readers’ minds. Think of evil stepmothers, the big bad wolf, a druid, an orphan who becomes a king, and so on.

Things Unseen has a couple of well-known and much-loved character types, brought to life as individuals. This worm’s favourite cameo is Felicia, the pyromaniac. Felicia dresses in brightly-coloured scraps, assembled into an eccentric outfit with short, bright leggings. She cuts the hem off a dress, leaving a jagged outline. Like upside-down flames, she thinks. She hovers in the background, watching the heroes of the book with a gimlet eye, and muttering about the perfect conflagration she is planning.

Then there’s Tim, the ghost buster… Ah, but I will not spoil your fun.

Disclosure: It is only fair to disclose that Mark Wordsworm (the Travelling Worm, and author of this blog) is a nom de plume of Sarah Maddox, author of Things Unseen. Thanks for reading this post. 🙂

Getting hold of the book

Things Unseen is available in eBook format from these sites:

The customary “Me” photograph

Followers of this blog will be expecting a picture of this worm looking dashing while doing something daring. I am, as always, keen to please, so here it is.

Me cuddling up to Things Unseen on a Kindle.

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