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Another Portland Blog

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I hear the rain a-comin'

...It's rollin' 'round the bend
and I ain't seen the sunshine since December 10th (probably)
I'm stuck in Portland, Oregon and the storms keep draggin' on
but the sun keeps a rollin' on down to Ti-a-juan
When I was just a baby, my mama told me, "Son,
always be a good boy, don't ever play with...

...sun lamps in a pathetic attempt to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder"

OK, enough of that.

While Seattle is hogging the national spotlight for its twenty-five consecutive days of rain, things aren't much better down here in the City of Roses. Our rivers are also swelling, a few houses are on the verge sliding into canyons in Oregon City and falling trees are rudely interrupting viewings of "Batman Begin." It's gettin' to be a County Rain Jam-ba-roo around here.

In fact, all this rain has driven the editors at the Oregonian to do the unthinkable. They used the "h" word on the front page of Tuesday's edition.

That's right. They printed "heck of a lot of rain." Right there on the front page. Below the fold, sure, but that's a "heck" on the front page nonetheless.

Now I'm all for calamities brought on by excessive rainfall. Hey, who isn't? I fondly recall heading up to SW Fairmont in 1996 when too much "liquid sunshine" caused a mudslide that blocked the street for two weeks. So many people went up there to jump around on it that the city finally errected a chain-link fence to keep the curious at bay. Everybody loves mudslides. Well, maybe not the nearby residents who had their homes condemned...

But this latest rain blitz has recently taught me a valuble lesson. Property damage caused by inclement weather isn't so much fun when it happens to you.

Pictured here is the root cellar of the house I'm renting.

Yes, that's a stream running through the middle of it.

Stream, drainage ditch, whatever. I discovered it on Saturday when I headed down there to spray for ants. The little buggers were woken up early this year. Not only has Portland seen a lot of rain in recent days, it's been unseasonable warm here as well.

In addition to the stream, the walls have begun leaking. A large puddle of water under the dryer would have caused an electrical fire if left to its own devices. I immediately unplugged it but I didn't make it down there in time to stop another puddle from hurting something dear to me.

The RAIN GOT MY HAMMOCK! And, of lesser importance, an old coffee table.

Sure, the hammock will dry but that's not the point. Has this peculiar seasonal weather pattern no decency?!!!

So I immediately called my landlord who repeated the same thing he always does when one of his properties is about to depreciate another $10K in value.

"Oh, ______? Yeah, that's pretty typical. Happens whenever the weather gets _________ in Portland. Happens to all the houses on this block. My house has _______. Ask your neighbor. Same thing's probably happen over at his place too."

I can now add "minor flooding" to the growing list of calamities he's ignored since I moved in here. While I should probably be more worried than I am about the growing disaster ten feet below me as I type these words, I'm not losing sleep. Yet.

The stream may as well be a drainage pipe without the actual drain. The hot water heater and furnace are suspended off the ground on a concrete platform. Unless the water level down there engulfs the entire cellar and rises to a level of four or more inches, nothing serious is at risk. The only thing I'm concerned about, of course, is mildew. While the cellar is comprised of mostly of dirt and concrete instead of wood, spores could probably grow on those surfaces too. Mildew's probably crafty like that, I'm sure.

If I knew anything at all about mildew and what it can do to man-made structures, I'd be quaking in my Converses right now. I can't say I look forward to coming home from work one night to discover that a horrendous smell has rendered my home uninhabitable. There's also the slight risk that this could slide down the hill it's sitting on but, to be honest, I'm more worried about the mildew.

Still, all this beats living in an apartment. I'll happily put up with ants and basement brooks if means I don't have to listen to a neighbor's television set.

Oh, and did I mention there's already stuff growing in the stream?

Could be orchids. Could be a man-eating plant. I have no idea.

Will I come down with a future health problem because of exposure to mildew spores? Stay tuned!

C'mon, isn't this more exciting than Jack Bog?

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