Eliot Nails Portland In October

298. Fall Carpet

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

– from Eliot, T.S. “The Lovesong of J.Alfred Prufrock.” T.S.Eliot: The Complete Poems and Plays (1909– 1950)

Late October Morning

Stars and woodsmoke when I went out this morning to get the car.

Stars and woodsmoke when I went out this evening during commercials.

The stripped skeleton of the walnut tree, black against the deep indigo night.

Planets and stars and shivers.

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categories Fall

Pulpo Gallego

The Morning They Gave Up On The Year

By half past ten the walnut
was stripped, and the men
at a quarter til noon
– having given up on it –
had packed the place
wearing sweaters and caps
the long wood tables
bent over bowls
steaming octopus stews
glasses of Txakolina
slightly effervescent
gold in the sunlight
that was shining through
the walnut’s bare branches.

Veterans Day

Flying into PDX last night. A chartered flight from Alaska. World War 2 veterans, coming home from Alaska. All wheelchairs and canes. The whole airport giving them an ovation. Not a dry eye in the house. The Greatest Generation, its last days. American flags everywhere. All of this in just 15 seconds, walking past, heaving backpack, clapping, on my way to the cab stand. Home.



There are no more long dawn patrol bike rides. A ride to California Ave is a journey, let alone over to University. There are mornings I sleep until 8. Make coffee: A bag of Coava from Portland, my hand crank burr grinder, a pourover. Then dive right into it. No more rambling soliloquies, no more musing on the nature of bike riding. Just work.

The work has changed as well. It is less theoretical or strategic. More practical and tactical. We had a conversation the other day where one of us actually said “Well, it depends on what we decide the meaning of the word ‘word’ is.”

The sentence made sense. The conversation continued.

Not only did it make sense, but we used it as a starting point for deciding on a scalar model of canonical-ness; We decided it’s better to be canonical / orthodox in familiar terminology. Faced with the choice of redefining what a ‘word’ is and what a ‘synonym’ is, we leaned towards synonym because a lot of people would have trouble defining ‘synonym’, whereas we’re pretty sure most people are pretty sure what a word is.

It’s Fall and the year is ending and everything knows it and everyone can feel it.


October might be the month that expresses California the best. Bewildering to Midwest guests Haven’t had our first freeze yet but it’s on its way sure enough.

A few trees have started losing leaves. But it’s still 80 by day in Palo Alto. A little cooler by night, into the 40s now. But still the year marches on.

I remember as a kid in the Bay Area loving Thanksgiving because usually by then, the season had begrudgingly changed over and fall’s melancholy had arrived. Finally.

“The bus roared on. I was going home in October. Everybody goes home in October.”
– From On The Road, Jack Kerouac

October is such a month. Rough on the soul. Endings everywhere.

Some days in October break your heart with their rain, their cold, their signs that summer is broken and beaten.

Other days in October break your heart from how nice they are. Golden sun, warmth. Only that low light that drove Kerouac crazy to remind you how fleeting they are.

Mid October

In the Northwest, Springs builds slowly. Not so fall. Fall comes on like a tiger here. Septembers are idyllic, warm, peaceful. November is our rainiest month. October is the transition.

It’s amazing how quickly the swings are around the equinoxes. Between March 10 and March 30 every plant, bush and tree blooms. Between September 20th and October 10th, every one of those plants begins to redden, yellow or brown.

You might see the sun setting one of these clear October nights, when the offshore breeze is blowing. Watch that sun set over the west hills. Just as it dissapears, you see it again for about ten second, in tiny fillaments, the light still shining between the fir trees on the ridge.

Later that night, on a plane, suddenly over the Bay Area. Back to work again.