Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bonny Slope - Where We Live & Today's Big Work

Good Morning Friends,

As many of you know from reading my blog and Weng's blog, we have been doing a major cleanup around the old homestead for the last several weeks. We are almost finished! We are packrats. There, I said it. When you have an acre or more of land, and a lot of time, you can fill it up with stuff. We did. We filled it up with big stuff. Big Stuff like School Buses and Trucks and all sorts of Cars and Motorhomes. Then we filled those things up with stuff. Stuff like building materials and things that you use everyday in everyday life - which brings us to the core of the Stuff situation - where on earth does all of this Stuff come from?

Well, mostly it was someone else's Stuff at one time. So, how did we get it? Mostly from garage sales, that's how. You see over the last 15 years or so our neighborhood has transformed from a sleepy rural, hilly backwater of Portland to an astounding maze of huge McMansions. (see above neighbor's photo) When I moved here 33 years ago there were about 30 tiny little cabins situated on the Bonny Slope. Mostly run down 'starter homes' built during the depression, anywhere between 350 square foot to 700 square foot. Quaint, wood heated and picturesque. Then came the computer revolution. Ever hear of a little company named Intel? The Hillsboro area, not far from here became a giant research facility for Intel and other related companies. That meant that the 'Brains Of The Silicone Forest' had to live somewhere and Bonny Slope/Cedar Mills, with its rugged natural beauty, abundance of water, terrific environmental laws, and stunning hillside views became the location of choice. There are now thousands and thousands of Big Houses here and we are one of only a tiny handful of original places left.

All of this development has brought a lot of changes to the area. Some I consider good, others, not so good. The pace of the area is now as fast as the pace of the computer industry. Fast. The old beater cars on the gravel roads have been replaced with expensive fast Suv's and BMW on re=worked paved roads. Our road is now a speedway and looks like a commercial for German cars. Most of the cars have only one person in them. Big eye popping grocery stores sell every kind of food you can imagine while 'Mom & Pop' markets are a thing of the past. Home values are, well, stratospheric and more are still being built, in spite of the economic crash. There are a lot of new schools in the area and they are Fantastic!! First rate public schools, well thought out and staffed with first rate teachers. I cannot sing their praises enough!

So, back to the Stuff. Well, toss into this mix the dreaded monster of evolving consumerism and what do you get? The answer is that one of each of these houses three car garages is full of Stuff. Last years Stuff. Growing kids Stuff. Hardly used Stuff. Summers here are filled with Garage Sales. Big Houses Stuff selling for pennies on the dollar to make room for next years Stuff. There are two types of people buying this Stuff - Big House Neighbors and Mexicans. We fall into the second category even though we are technically neighbors. It is like having Rich People GoodWill Stores on every block. So, we buy what we need, sometimes what we don't need just because it was a good deal, and we buy things to take with us to Mexico. The last part is really where the Stuff Overload Factor comes in. We load the old Motorhome up to the brim with things for Aticama and sometimes we buy more than we have room for so we put all of That Stuff into Other Big Stuff.

The other part of our Stuff is Building Materials. Being a builder I am constantly running across really good materials that are headed for the dump and that is a crime really. I do what I can by salvaging as much as possible but it takes space. You get the picture.

Which brings us to last week. 17 years ago a good friend left his 30ft. converted 1956 GMC school bus at our place and it sunk into the ground. He never came back for it and it died of neglect. It was full of Stuff. Now that Stuff is gone and so is the bus. Our old Toyota Wagon served us well for many years before someone crashed into us. We kept if for parts for our daily commuter Toyota Wagon. I pulled the motor and good parts. Now it is gone. Tony The Scrapper took them away. We sold our Trooper. We filled a giant dumpster with Stuff and building materials - everything we could not give away on Craigslist. It went away. Our circular driveway reappeared!

Which brings us to today. Today, early, my pals at West Coast Sand & Gravel are delivering 15 cubic yards of driveway gravel and Augustin and I will spread it. This is necessary every 5 years or so because the earth here is about 20 feet deep before you hit rock and the gravel just goes away! After the gravel is laid Tony The Scrapper will come and haul off my 1959 GMC Dump Truck. It served us well years ago but now it's time has come to serve someone else. Then, a motorcycle enthusiast is coming to buy my 1964 Honda Black Bomber. I really hate to see her go but she is worth more to us in dollars and I am sure that a first rate restoration is in her future. Then we will move 'La Bonita' (our 1968 Travco) into the Aticama Blastoff Staging Area near the garage! Weng will take photos which we will post later for all to see.

Simple, right?



  1. Yes, development. A blessing and a curse. You have laid out the situation very well. And "stuff"! Boy, do most of us have too much stuff. I am in the process of convincing my bride that most of it can go after decades of taking up too much garage and other storage space.

  2. Thanks for the pics. It is sad to see these "treasures" and pieces of your personal history go, but it is necessary! I'm sure you feel so much better now.