My weekends in Oregon are dwindling. I make it to be two more before I head off for the bloggers' conference.
A week ago, it was the beach. This Saturday, it was OMSI, a movie, and dinner.
If you did not grow up in Oregon, that acronym may baffle. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. An idea that grew out of Pacific Northwest Victorian curiosity in the 1890s.
But that was not the OMSI I knew. My first memory of the museum in its old home next to the Washington Park zoo. It opened in 1958. We went there as a family soon after.
My favorite exhibits? The meteorites, the pendulum. and the visible woman. But, my favorite was the visible bee hive -- with the queen marked on her "hump" with a dot of red finger nail polish. For those of us who were slow enough not to notice that she was gigantic compared to her worker sisters.
Due to an ever-increasing population of swarming school-children visiting the place, the museum moved to larger quarters on the east bank of the Willamette River in 1992. Handy for freeway passersby to look down from the Marquam Bridge for the startling sight of a submarine -- the USS Blueback -- moored next to the museum.
Even though I have been to the museum for IMAX films, I have not been to the museum since I was in college.
That changed on Saturday. We arrived with only an hour to look at exhibits. We decided to limit ourselves to "Identity: an exhibition of you." Something in the title appealed to me.
We got to change our gender and ethnicity through photos. Determine whether we were introvert or extrovert; traditionalist or innovator; wired or laid back; male or female-brained. And the results were not too startling -- even though the photo-morphing was.
And in the midst of it all, there she was. The visible woman with light up organs. When I was in the sixth grade, I had her smaller counter-part -- the visible man with painted, but unlit, organs.
I thought of meeting her acquaintance again when we went to our movie.
The Clint Eastwood-directed Hereafter. The story of three disparate characters who have had a close encounter with death. A talented male psychic in San Francisco with a gift to contact the dead. A beautiful French woman telejournalist who nearly drowns in the 2004 southeast Asia tsunami. And an English boy who survives the death of his identical twin.
The film spends most of its time building the individual tales of the psychic hiding from his talent. The journalist trying to publish her book on the afterlife. The boy looking for a way to contact his dead twin.
The psychic's love of Charles Dickens's books ends up pulling the three of them together for the film's climax. Thoughtfully, combining Dickens's fascination with dreams, ghosts, and orphans.
But the film is not really any more about the hereafter than The Christmas Carol is about Christmas. It is about relationships and people coming to terms with their lives amongst each other.
And it is well worth seeing. As long as you are willing to be patient and watch simple threads weave together.
One last weekend in Oregon well spent.