June 23rd, 2004 12:00 am WW Editorial Staff | Special Section Stories

home & work


Nappy Hour

Nooks for noon naps.


Sleep is arguably the most important element of a truly relaxing summer. But most of us stay out way too late and get up way too early when the weather turns for the better. Thankfully, we're here to help find Portland's finer under-the-radar snooze spots.

Park It: If the weather's nice, it doesn't get easier than the South or North Park Blocks. Ditch that hangover-aggravating job for an hour by flopping out in the grass (or on a bench) like an executive lush.

Central Casting: So it's raining? No problem. Join the educated masses down at Multnomah County Central Library, where you can curl up with a good book as a pillow to shield your noggin from the rock-hard tabletop. 801 SW 10th Ave., 988-5123.

Shop 'til You Drop: Braver souls could try conning a short slumber in the Pearl District at the Mulligan Mattress Company. Or the die-hards could head downtown to Meier & Frank's ninth-floor mattress section. Take the elevator but say you took the stairs, wheeze and ask to lie down. Mulligan Mattress Co., 425 NW 9th Ave., 222-3723; Meier & Frank, 621 SW 5th Ave., 223-0512.

Insider tip: Retailers, police officers and librarians will discourage your choice of siesta. Keep it short--unless you like sleeping on a cot behind bars.

Party Crashers

When not just any ol' bash will do.


Tired of the same old potluck, backyard beerfest? Though "potluck" and "backyard" both scream summer, sometimes a party needs something more to be memorable, not to mention to draw a crowd. That's why the party gods invented the "theme party." Here are some ideas to get your creativity train chuggin':

Urban Scavenger Hunt: There's no reason not to adapt the summer-camp game of "find the Y-shaped stick and four-leaf clover" for the adult partygoers' pleasure. Break into car-sized groups with a list of things to find or do in the city, each with a point level depending on the difficulty, and bring along a Polaroid or digital camera to document the activity. Don't limit yourself by "logic" and "practicality." (Im)possible things might include playing cat's cradle with a stripper, getting a cop's autograph, having an elderly person flip you the bird, procuring a kiss from a drag queen, licking a stop sign.... Half the fun is coming up with the list, half is scrambling around town doing crazy shit, and the other half (by now you're so soused you don't notice the sloppy math) is sharing the stories and photos back at the party. Don't drink and drive.

Drag Ball: Everybody, especially that macho ex-football player, is at least somewhat curious about what it's like to dress as the opposite sex, but few do for fear of what others might think. So give them an excuse. We bet you'll be surprised by how hot that gown is on Billy and how sharp Susan looks with a soul patch.

Rubik's Cube: Everyone dresses in the different colors of Rubik's Cube. Throughout the party, you have to exchange items of clothing with other people until you are a solid color. It offers a chance to approach your crush and swap pants. What fun will ensue when there's an excuse to take off your clothes?

On the Road: Take any costume theme and throw your party in public, progressing from bar to bar or park to park. Clown and ninja themes are particularly good for "interacting with" (i.e., scaring) strangers.

Co-Workers Are People, Too

Corporate teamwork can mean more than having your buddy cover you while you copy your ass.


The Final Four office pool really brought your employees together, but now things are falling apart: This morning you caught Sheila from Accounting putting a headlock on Barry the delivery guy. The World Series isn't until October--how will you rekindle that team spirit this summer? Try these:

Hood-to-Coast: Send office teams of 12 mostly downhill on this annual 196-mile overnight relay race from Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean. Aug. 27-28. For more, call 292-4626 or check out www.hoodtocoast.com.

Carefree Commuter Challenge: Encourage alternative modes of commuting and your worker bees could win digital cameras, balloon rides and free beer! July 12-25. Call 617-4844 or see www.wta-tma.org.

Adventure Associates: Team- building and orienteering from a national group that's been putting the "we" in "sweat" for years. Call 800-987-5582 or see www.adventureassoc.com/us/oregon/portland.html.

Boys & Girls Club: Volunteering to lead inner-city expeditions or support the club's Web endeavors is a great way of getting your staff working together and with the community. Call 232-0077 or see www.bgclubportland.org.

Zoller's Outdoor Odysseys: Near-death experiences on the rapids of the White Salmon River can really bring a group together. Call 509-493-2641 or see zooraft.com.

Get Growin'

Find your piece of green in the urban jungle.


Summer brings the scent of freshly cut grass, brilliant vine-ripened tomatoes and honeysuckle pulsing with bees. Which sucks if your only shot at green is the balcony Astroturf. But fear not, apartment-dwellers: Portland's blooming with gardens that want you. And your green thumbs.

A self-confessed "community of plant geeks," Berry Botanic Garden was the original home of Rae Selling Berry and her husband, Alfred. Infamous for her biting tongue and love of drink, she created an incredible private collection here in the '30s, nursing seeds she received in return for buying "shares" in the expeditions of famous British plant explorers. Volunteers can get their hands dirty in the garden or the greenhouse--recommended as a great starting point for novices. For those interested in plant conservation, try seed germinating and seed banking. Biting tongues optional. 11505 SW Summerville Ave., 636-4112; contact Carolyn Devine, ext. 26.

Leach Botanical Garden, in southeast Portland, was the happy home of pharmacist John Leach and his botanist wife Lilla. Nestled along the banks of Johnson Creek, the 16-acre garden was opened to the public after Lilla's death in the 1980s. Learn about native plants or plant propagation as a garden volunteer, or prepare and package seeds as part of an international seed exchange. If you work as an Outdoor Classroom Teacher for grade-school kids, you can say things like: "Banana slugs exude a slimy toxin from their skin, decreasing their palatability to predators and numbing the tongues of curious humans." Cool, huh? 6704 SE 122nd Ave., 823-9503; contact Betty Hanson.

Do good while digging at Oregon Food Bank's Eastside Learning Garden. The 3-year-old demonstration garden at OFB's Portland campus teaches low-income families to grow their own food and donates surplus produce to "free groceries" in North Portland. New learners are matched with experienced gardeners, so no one's left behind. Any volunteers who meet income guidelines and complete two shifts per month can take a portion of the garden's yield home with them. Using the container- gardening area that demonstrates how food can be grown in even the tightest spaces, you'll be reaping a harvest on that Astroturf in no time. 7900 NE 33rd Drive, 282-0555; contact Starr Farris, ext. 268. Volunteer shifts are 5:30-8:30 pm Wednesdays, 9 am-noon Thursdays, and 9 am-noon Saturdays.

Cheap Seats

Because there's no reason to sit on the ground.


You think all you need for outdoor lounging is a beer cooler and Bain de Soleil, but do you really plan to sit on the ground? There are BUGS on the ground! Try one of these do-it-yourself seats instead--they're simple to make, they're stylish, and they'll keep you clear of the creepy-crawlers.

Waterproof Blanket: Even in the balmiest Portland summer, it's possible to picnic on a mud patch. Protect your pedal pushers from damp ground by creating a double-sided spread.

Directions: Measure the dimensions of a tablecloth or blanket (wool Army blankets have a charming nostalgic scratchiness). Cut a piece of waterproof fabric to the same dimensions as the blanket (Rose City Textiles, 2515 NW Nicolai St., 224-5666, carries dozens of high-tech fabric remnants, often in snappy colors). Placing right sides together, stitch around the perimeter, leaving a small opening. Turn the blanket right-side-out and handstitch the opening closed. Voilà--a life raft for the bucolic bogs of summer.

Classic Hassock: Pity those hippies on the grass at the Gorge--you can turn a discarded fruit crate into a luxury ottoman. Troll any grocery dumpster for an appropriate castoff (we're looking for wood, now, not cardboard). Cut a piece of plywood and a piece of foam padding to the same size as the crate bottom; upend the crate and fasten the plywood with screws (you get to use a drill on this one, goody!). Glue down the foam. Upholster your stool with scrap fabric--cuttings from an old quilt lend a bohemian touch--and a staple gun. Position your perch, and sit. Now who has the best view of Dave Matthews?

Hammock: You'll need a 3-yard length of canvas, 30 feet of sturdy polypropylene rope, and two husky trees about 8 feet apart. At both ends of your canvas (the short ends), fold the fabric over 2 inches and sew through both thicknesses to create a loop, similar to a rod pocket for a curtain. Cut the rope into two equal pieces and thread them through the loops at each end. Select your trees and knot the rope around them in a stable location (safety tip: Unless you're sailor-sure of your knots, secure the rope to a branch as well as to the trunk). Tie at your desired height, and swing, swing, swing.

Get Hosed.

How to stay cool? Act like a kid again.


As that scorching sun begins to bake our Northwestern skin, Portlanders' thoughts inevitably turn to the refreshing relief of water. But during the busy season many of us would sooner die of heatstroke than make the hourlong jaunt to the chillier coast. For you land-locked fun-lovers, here are some ways to cool down without leaving town.

Slip-and-Slides: Getting this party going is as easy as laying it out, hooking it up and turning the faucet on. Think of it as a small portable water slide for your inner child. Refrigerated Crisco can be successfully substituted in drought conditions.

Sprinklers: Simply find a neighborhood sprinkler that's keeping someone's yard blissfully green. Then run through it. Repeat until satisfied--or until you're kicked out. Whatever.

Water Balloons or Guns: The bane of unsuspecting friends everywhere, the water balloon has kept armies of youngsters busy, and soaked, for decades. Water guns, unlike their devastatingly effective relative, are ideal for those who wish to remain friends with their objects of H20-attracting affection.

Pool Parties: This option requires knowing someone who (a) owns a pool and (b) is willing to share it. Try pointing out the proven skyrocketing-popularity factor of opening your pool to friends and their friends.

Get Your Vote On

After the summer comes November.


Tuning out is a tried-and-true way to reduce stress in an election year, but let's face it: The Chimp-in-Chief isn't going to throw himself out. You can growl about the pack of thieving, deceiving fundamentalist hyenas we have representing us on the world stage, but you'll feel better working to get rid of them.

Get out the vote: You can help by volunteering with a political party such as the Democratic Party of Oregon (www.dpo.org, 224-8200) or the Pacific Green Party of Oregon (235-0300, www.pacificgreens.org). But you don't have to be a party animal to build a Bush-whacking machine: The Multnomah County Elections Division (1040 SE Morrison St., 988-3720) will hand you up to 500 voter-registration forms so you can sign up all your friends (be sure to turn the forms back in by Oct. 12).

Get out your wallet: Not enough people know that Oregon lets you subtract up to $50 in political contributions from the taxes you owe the state. Make that cash count in this money-heavy election by sending a check to your campaign of choice (www.johnkerry.com, say)--and make sure your friends do, too.

Get on the Bus: The Oregon Bus Project (233-3018, www.busproject.org) runs weekly bus trips to get young folk out in the community building grassroots support for progressive candidates. Other Bus Project summer events include a women's action day July 10 with Music Liberation Project after-party, a bike-and-bus rally July 31, and CD release parties Aug. 14 and 21 with simpatico musicians such as Art Alexakis, Dahlia and Madgesdiq celebrating a rock/hip-hop double-disc for the cause.

Fair and balanced tip: If you're an ardent Bush backer, you can help, too. At the Oregon Zoo (4001 SW Canyon Road), buy a couple of hot dogs, rub 'em into your chest, then hop the fence at the tiger habitat to give the kids a valuable lesson in compassionate conservatism.

Summer-ize Your Workspace

Turn a cubicle into a vacation paradise.


There's no worse time than summer to have one of those soul-sucking office jobs. While people are frolicking in the sun, their flesh exposed, sipping tropical beverages made with pineapples, you sit chained to a cubicle 40 hours a week. And when you finally get a chance to enjoy the summer (i.e., the weekend), there's a whole army of weary-eyed, pasty-skinned office automatons just like you trying to do the same thing. Have no fear; there is something you can do. Here are some ways to make your workspace feel more like summer:

Declare every Wednesday "Shorts and Flip-Flops Day." Send out an officewide memo. That way, if anyone says you're dressed inappropriately, you can say you're following company protocol.

Hang pictures of people in bathing suits all around your cubicle to give the illusion of being at the beach. Some people may complain about this, so be prepared to accuse them of discriminating against you based on your sexuality.

Bring a kiddy pool to work, and soak your feet while you sit at your cubicle. If there's no room for a kiddy pool, two large cooking pots--one for each foot--should do the trick.

Always wear your sunglasses in the office. People will find this unsettling and ask you to remove them. Tell them you are light-sensitive.

If you have a computer with a DVD player, bring movies to work. Jaws, Meatballs and anything with the words "bikini" or "carwash" in the title are highly recommended.

During your lunch break, sunbathe on the sidewalk. No one will say anything; they'll just assume you're homeless.

Drink margaritas at work. You'll want to be careful with this one, as many employers frown on alcohol consumption in the workplace. If anyone asks, just say you're drinking a smoothie.

Insider tip: Heatstroke is a great excuse for all sorts of bad behavior. Put up a sweat when the boss sticks his head in the door.

Something This Way Comes

Summer work is as far away as the next fair.


So summer in the city's got you bored sick? You're due to remember one of those forgotten childhood dreams--sign on as a carnie and spend the season on the midway.

Your first assignment, says Butler Amusements CEO Earl "Butch" Butler, is to go through a big, fat background check--including fingerprinting, if you want to work for one of the West Coast's biggest carnival corps. (Hey, you're working with 10-ton machines and 10-year-old kids here.) If it sounds unromantic, hang tough; once you're in, you'll host a traveling party eight months a year. You'll be welcomed into the fold by the lifers--carnival workers have surprisingly low turnover rates--and trained to build the giant Erector sets that buzz events like the Lane County Fair (Aug. 17-22).

Then tour the country with your comrades in an 18-wheel bunkhouse. Bring the thrills to small-town fetes like the Bite of Salem, (July 30-Aug. 1), and soak up the local flavors. And the fringe benefits? A daily smorgasbord of specialty foods like the ones at the Oregon State Fair (Aug. 26-Sept. 6), and all the rides you can stomach. Just watch it; cotton-candy lunches and Space Train coffee-breaks might make your old life seem healthy again.

Insider tip: Looking for a job? Butler Amusements usually hires on site. Looking for summertime fairs? Check out the summer events calendar, page 65.

Beat the Clock

Weekend chores you can whip on your lunch hour.


Don't want to waste your precious summer weekends running errands? Then lace up those secretary-sneakers hiding under your desk and make lunch work for you.

Decompress/Shed Blubber: Why is it that exercising to the point of collapse is so relaxing? Ponder this and life's other conundrums while getting in public-bikini-baring shape in one of the YWCA's lunchtime programs. SLOMO pool class is for water-exercise beginners and people with tender joints and back problems (11 am-noon Tuesdays and Thursdays). BREASE is aqua aerobics for breast cancer survivors (11 am-noon Wednesdays). ABS LAB tones up the jelly roll (noon-12:30 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays). And SENIOR FITNESS offers seniors the chance to keep up with the young (11-11:45 am Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). 1111 SW 10th Ave., 294-7400. Day pass $10; programs are co-ed.

Order and Pick Up Groceries: If you want to spend your weekend eating food rather than shopping for it, Organics to You can help. Order a box of locally grown organic fruits and veggies from the Web or over the phone, and then kick back while someone else gets busy delivering your fresh chow to the office. Organics to You, www.organicstoyou.org, 236-6496, produce boxes range from $23-$52.

Walk the Dog...or Not: Everyone likes walking the dog on the weekends, right? How come so many of us look annoyed while doing it? If you want to free up the weekend from pet parenthood, Noah's Arf provides every pet-sitting service imaginable. With their pet taxi service, the arfists will pick up your best friend from any location, and then wash, cut, curl and walk him. Noah's Arf, 1306 NW 18th Ave., 223-6624, www.noahsarf.com. Day care for doggie $23, for kitty $12.



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