Both Sides Now

There are 127 apartment units at Holladay Park Plaza. [1] I Three of them have both an east view and a west view. Bette and I live in one of those. We can see “both sides now.”


The sunset picture is completely genuine. I took it from my front porch—the public area just outside our apartment door where I am, in fact, writing this. I took it because when our friends Frank and Joan McNamara were visiting us, Frank looked out the window at the collection of buildings that is prominent in this picture and said, “There’s your new notch.”

I saw it as soon as he said it, although I don’t know how long it would have taken me to come to it myself. The “old notch” was Grindstone Ridge, a prominent dip in the Coast Range that was visible from our Dakota Street house. All the Bookies—members of the book group we started in 1983— including Frank and Joan, had, for many years, sat on our deck in September to celebrate the sun’s setting in that notch. We invented a gruesome Spanglish name for the event: we called in Buenos Notches Dias. [2] And to celebrate it, we invited friends in for…nachos.

When we moved over here, we were prepared to say goodbye to the notch and to Buenos Notches Dias. Even, perhaps, to the nachos. Sad, I thought, but not one of the great catastrophes of our time. And when Frank said what he said, I began to be alert for just when the sun would set in our new “notch,” which is formed by the Lloyd Center Tower on the right and the Lloyd 700 Building and Kaiser Permanente tower on the left. One of the days it sets nicely into the new notch is September 28.


The sunrise picture is completely genuine. It was taken facing east from Holladay Park Plaza and features Mount Hood, as it should. On the other hand, the east view from our apartment, which in on the fourth floor, [3] is entirely innocent of Mount Hood. This picture was taken from the penthouse level (16th floor) and this is what it looked like yesterday. The sunrise picture and the sunset picture were taken on the same day.

It is not accidental, it turns out, that people like me can go up to the highest floor and walk out onto the roof patio and take pictures like this. At Holladay Park Plaza, as everywhere else, the higher floors are justly prized for the view they offer. It’s hard to get an apartment on one of the upper floors because they are very much in demand.

But the Penthouse belongs to everyone on the same grounds that Oregon’s magnificent beaches belong to everyone. The highest and best floor is “reserved” for everyone. It is a common area although, as you see, the view of what Portlanders call “the mountain” is anything but ordinary. You have to wait a long time to get this prospect from the 15th floor, but it is there for anyone anytime on the 16th floor.

There is no law that protects access for all the residents to the Penthouse level. There is, of course, a law that protects access for all Oregonians to Oregon’s beaches. So the two are different in that way. But I think the instinct that leads us to “save the best for all of us” is what shows up in both cases. And I like that.

[1] What number you want to use depends a little on what you have in mind. For today’s use, I am including all the independent living apartments and excluding both of the floors of the South Tower that are there for residents needing special treatment of some kind. So this number counts the Holladay North (a separate building) the north tower (north of us) and the south tower (south of us) and the bridge between them, which is where we live.
[2] The choice of names was not entirely innocent. We had a Spaniard living with us at the time we named it, and the “Spanish” in the name was so truly bad that, although he tried to be playful about it as the rest of us were, caused him real distress.
[3] The top floor of the bridge (between the north and south towers) is only four floors high. We live on the top floor of the bridge.

About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsy. I'm a dilettante.
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1 Response to Both Sides Now

  1. Bonnie Klein says:

    A new notch! And still in September! Delightful! I smiled at it before I read the text that followed. And the sunrise view from the Penthouse–beautiful picture. It’s exciting discovering what your new home has to offer!

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