It was so pretty the other day, we three all walked to Zach’s Shack for hot dogs! We had the cool back patio all to ourselves, and we enjoyed our spicy Chicago dog, Dylan dog, and French fries. I even indulged in a pint of Guinness. Yum!
We were all feeling very full when we were done, and Grandpa Nelson suggested we take the long walk home.
There is always a lot to see in a new neighborhood. Spring has sprung with Forget Me Nots and flowers I can’t even name, growing from every planter, lawn, and crack in the sidewalk. It is glorious.
The dogwoods are all getting ready to bloom by our house. This one, about ten feet tall, has already popped.
And, on any walk, there is something you see that, well, you just didn’t expect to. This time, it was Bernie Sanders. Yep, a life sized standup of the Senator from Vermont, as he appeared at President Biden’s Inauguration, sitting comfortably on a front porch. We passed along our best wishes and waved goodbye.
And before we got home, we saw a dragon and covered almost four and a half miles.
With the weather being warmer and our spirits rising with every vaccination, we are feeling inspired to get out for longer walks. My dad, your great grandpa Lowell, always said you should only walk until you were half tired, so you could turn around and walk back home. We have discovered that if there’s a bakery along the way, you can just keep going!
When we bought this house, one of the reasons we loved it was the proximity of restaurants and businesses…. Lebanese food around the corner, pizza across the way and a nice pinball tavern and pulled pork just down the block. But no bakery! This has probably, in the long run, been a blessing. Baked goods are less dangerous if they are at the end of a good long walk.
So, we walk. Helen Bernhard, Grandpa Nelson’s favorite, is two miles north of us through lovely neighborhoods. Their donuts are the best in town (Sorry, Voodoo Donuts) and they have Florentines rolled into tubes and filled with peanut butter cream. Need I say more?
The Fleur de Lis, just off Broadway, at 1.7 miles. away. I haven’t walked to it yet, but Grandpa Nelson has! They have all sorts baked goods, including his favorite cinnamon rolls, as well as huge slices of quiche and sandwiches on fresh baked bread. They even had, before the Covid restrictions, live music on Sundays.
And just yesterday, Auntie Bridgett and I discovered yet another one! Lauretta Jean’s, on Division, is just a mile south. They have been at their current location for ten years, but we have somehow missed them. During Covid they changed from a dine-in cafe to a walk up window, with a pretty awning and delightful signage. They even have a few small tables out front for on-site snacking.
We picked up a lemon bar, a piece of chocolate oatmeal pie, and a piece of birthday cake to take home for Friday’s dessert. The pie was a bit too sweet, but the cake and lemon bar were spot on wonderful. It’s nice to know that there are still fine baked goods to be discovered!
I don’t know if the search for local baked goods is Holy Grail worthy, but it sure is delicious!
The other day I knew I needed to get out of the house, but had no motivation. Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk, and promised me goodies somewhere along the way. I went.
We headed north through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, then kept going up to Kerns. About a mile and a half from home, we stopped at Oregon Park and watched two little girls learn that going down a slide doesn’t have to be a straight forward proposition. It was fun to see their inventiveness.
“Where next?” Grandpa asked.
“I’m not sure, but it seems I remember a bakery just over that way,” I said, pointing north west-ish. He checked his phone.
“Good call! Helen Bernhardt Bakery is just 1.2 miles away. Practically around the corner.” So off we went. In the neighborhood in between, we found all sorts of delights. These stone lions are very stylish and Covid-aware.
These vintage, hand-carved children’s rocking chairs sat outside a turn of the century home, as if waiting to be adopted.
We got to Helen Bernhardt’s Bakery, which has good Covid procedures in place, and chatted with the lady behind the counter.
She said that this past Easter, a week ago, was the best Easter ever for the business. That’s since 1924! It’s nice to know that some businesses have been able to survive and even thrive in this weirdness, and that we will have this lovely bakery around for a long time.
After sitting on a low wall outside the bakery, enjoying our donut, Florentine and coffee as we watched happy folks come and go from the bakery, it was time to “South” a little. That is, to head towards home. We found this incredible camellia bush that was huge outside and magical inside. The flowers under the ‘umbrella’ seemed to glow pink with the afternoon sun.
We walked back across the Banfield Freeway and were soon in our own neighborhood. We stopped to say Hi to Auntie Bridgett, who was working her shift at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, then got home to crash before dinner.
I love where we live! Sunnyside, in Southeast Portland, is the best!
There are hundred year old houses, townhouses like ours, and brand new builds. Some of the trees were planted last year, and others have been here a long, long time. Heritage tree number 241, a Japanese maple, has probably been in the front yard of this house since it was built in the 1920s.
Because of how closely the trees and houses are spaced, winter, when the trees are bare, is the only time to get a picture of it.
Sunnyside was started in the 1890s as a trolley car neighborhood. Folks would live here, a few miles from the mud and stink of downtown, and be able to take the newly installed trolley cars to work.
Back then, the houses and lots were bigger.
As the city became more crowded, newer houses were built in between the original ones. Each was built in its own style. These three very different houses stand within two blocks of each other.
There are some industrial buildings that are being up-cycled, as well. Jacob’s Garage, which housed the trucks for the Belmont Dairy, is now a set of very cool condominiums, having kept its brick-Ish charm.
Every walkabout shows us new things! As flowers come up and trees leaf out, some of the hard lines are masked and softened, but the architecture of the turn of the century is still here if you know how to look.
Besides, where else can you find a tiny free library right next to a dinosaur-infested dogwood tree?
It was so sunny and warm the other day, Auntie Bridgett and I took a picnic to our plot at the community garden. We have planted lettuce, radish, marigold and carrot seeds, which is all we can put in until it gets warmer and drier, and wanted to keep them company as they start sprouting.
Cheeses, fruit and haroset made a nice portable lunch. We each carried a camp chair to set up in the narrow space between our plot and our neighbor’s.
We got to meet Ruth, who is the manager for our garden. She showed us her plot, just across the pathway. She has a lot of flowers growing, and just a few vegetables. She headed off to work on a public plot at the top of the garden.
We set things out and the sun just kept getting warmer! I peeled off my jacket, then my sweater and hat…. down to my tee shirt outside, for the first time in about seven months. It felt fabulous, thank you very much.
We watched tiny birds eat bugs off the kale in the next plot, and heard the crows telling everybody something, very loudly. We noticed evryone’s tiny sprouts coming up and marveled at the beginnings of things.
When all the food was gone, I got up to pull some weeds (of course) and Bridgett got out her watercolors to make some pictures. As always, I enjoyed getting my hands in the dirt.
I harvested some mint that is sprouting up at the edge out our plot, enjoying the shade of the camellia bush. When it was time to go, I carried the weeds, since there isn’t a can for them at the garden. Auntie Bridgett put the mint in her backpack.
Back home, I worked on a watercolor of the camellias I pruned the other day. It’s spring again, and here I am, painting flowers. Funny how that works.
I have been having so much fun experimenting with mixed media! Putting watercolors, other paints, and collage together to tell about a feeling, or a day, just makes so much sense to me.
This piece is from Easter weekend. When I was out walking, I thought about how all springs are new beginnings. But THIS spring, with vaccines making us safer, we are being released from Covid captivity in addition to our cold winter isolation. This spring feels especially free-ing.
I collected some bits from my collage box, including candy wrappers and the little paper sleeve that was wrapped around my ice cream cone from the new Dairy Hill Creamery, down on Hawthorne.
I knew I wanted the ‘sad’ side on the left and the ‘happy’ side on the right, so I put some watercolors down for a first layer.
To show more clearly what made the sad side so sad, I stenciled and collaged some Covid-looking circles, and even spelled ‘Covid’ out in letters. Moving on from the sad, I laid down an ice cream cone wrapper bridge over a river made from a chocolate-wrapper bit of tinfoil.
I needed a happy side to be bright, so I stenciled a sun in a variety of yellows. The city is cut from an on-sale art paper from Collage art supplies. The bird was on a birthday card. The ‘JOY’ balloons are also from the ice cream wrapper.
To finish it off, I outlined the balloons and letters, and gave some detail to the sun. And to remember that this happened on Easter, I put some pretty eggs by the bridge.
Giving it a critical look, I realize that I made the water under the bridge wrong. But overall, I am pleased with the piece. It captures how I was feeling and incorporates bits of the day. I hope you have fun doing art this week!
Easter Sunday wasn’t as warm or sunny as the day before had been, but it was still nice enough to get out for some fun.
After French practice and crosswords, Auntie Bridgett and I walked by our allotment to see how the seeds are doing. We have sprouts! The radishes and lettuces are sending up tiny green baby bits and I am so excited! I will come by tomorrow with the watering can to make sure they stay nice and moist.
We continued through the neighborhood, past pink drifts and blizzards of cherry blossoms, to the Pix-O-Matic on Burnside. Pix is a fancy French style patisserie. Due to Covid, they have installed high end vending machines to sell their pastries, but also Candy, toys, and odd bits of niftiness. We got a small collection of Easter candies and a pastry called a Shazam to have after dinner. Noticing that Kopi coffee was open, we stopped by and had interesting and delicious Ginger and cardamom coffees, and a blueberry scone. We sat at a tiny table on the sidewalk, watching and listening to all the humanity…..conversations, buses going by, car radios. It was nice to be OUT.
We got home and put the goodies away, did some art, and had lunch. Then Grandpa Nelson joined us and we walked way up into the Laurelhurst neighborhood, loving the spring flowers and blossoms on the hundred year old trees.
We got back in mid-afternoon and it was time to start dinner. I was cooking lamb shanks for the first time, and wanted to give myself time to do it right. Shanks tend to be tough, and need low and slow cooking. I used a recipe from The Spruce Eats online, and they turned out wonderfully! Tender, rich and yummy. I made mint sauce out of our mint from the garden, and it made the lamb even better! Hooray! I love learning how to make new delicious things!
We remembered to save room for the Pix desserts, however. Shazam is an almond cake with caramel and mousse under a paper thin chocolate wrapping. Delicious!
And THEN it was time for my zoom visit with you, Liza. We chatted, giggled, and drew Easter eggs and bunnies. I showed you the collage I’ve been working on (more about that tomorrow) and visited with your mommy and daddy.
We finished off the busy day with “Escape from the Chateau” and working on a new jigsaw puzzle, and headed for bed.
Your great grandma Billie, my momma, knew so many poems by heart that they would sometimes just jump out of her when she was emotional. The words of the poems expressed how she felt better than her own words.
This is one I heard very often, a poem William Wordsworth wrote about 150 years ago. It is about rainbows, but it is also about trying to carry the wonder we feel as children into our adulthood. I have chosen it to accompany some lovely rainbow-colored flowers in our neighborhood.
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man;
Last summer, a few months after the Covid shutdown, I started painting with an online group organized by Ruth Inman. It made sense that we should start painting with flowers…. who doesn’t like flowers?
My skills weren’t very good, and I was scared of making mistakes, but being with an old friend put me at ease. The tremor in my hand got in the way a bit, but I’d just power through, realizing that the wiggly lines could be just part of the picture. Flowers don’t have straight lines, anyway.
As the year passed, Ruth would give us challenges to use different materials, like candy wrappers or other recycled papers. These let me realize that ART didn’t have to mean making a perfect painting every time. The making, the process, was the main thing. If other people liked it when you were done, that was a bonus. But it was not the main goal.
Realizing that, I got more confident. I also came to understand that different media work in different ways. Watercolors always show through, so planning is crucial. Acrylics are more forgiving and will cover up mistakes. Collage needs a careful hand but is amazingly freeing. And all of these can be used in the same piece, if you like!
This is my new favorite, a remembering of a drive along the Willamette. As I sat on a bench looking at Mt. Hood far away across the river, I planned out how I would construct it. Watercolors for the sky and ground, THEN the distant mountain (out of a bit of Kleenex box), THEN the flowers/ trees in front of it, then the river and dogs. I found the note in the sky folded up in our picnic table, and wanted to include it.
I built up from the background to the foreground, and was pleased with how it turned out. The snow on the mountain is a tiny bit of Posca marker.
I’ve learned a lot this year. Mostly, I learned that I am still learning, which is a good thing.
Finally! After months of anticipation, we have seeds and a plant in the ground at the allotment. The weatherman has promised we will have no more frost this spring, so it was time to commit.
Auntie Bridgett went along with me, though she is not a gardener; there is too much mud involved for her liking. But she wanted to draw the garden, keep me company, and make notes. That’s what she does.
We bundled up against the chilly morning, carrying the seeds, the lavender plant, and nifty home made garden markers along in a bag. We chatted briefly with other gardeners. After so long in isolation we long for companionship, but we were all there on our own missions. The camellia tree had given us more blossoms, and I realized it may be a good idea to trim it back just a wee bit, to give us more space and sunlight. All good relationships need a little space, right?
The soil was very lumpy, and I spent a lot of time crumbling the clods between my fingers, making a smoother bed for my seed babies. I sprinkled the seeds in and patted the soil gently, laying down a bit of of decomposed straw over the top to keep them damp.
When my back was tired and my fingers were numb, it was time to lock the tools back in the shed and head out. Light rain is predicted for a few days, and should get the seedlings started. I am so excited for what happens next!