Walking and Talking

Dear Liza,

Yesterday morning I did a lot of reading. I am enjoying “Sacre Bleu”, a fantasy story by Christopher Moore. After lunch, I walked to Auntie Katie’s store and back. I wanted to return some things Jasper and Kestrel had forgotten from our trip to the zoo, and give everyone hugs. I also got to see their new acrobatic tricks and watch a local cartoonist teach some older kids how to draw.

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Inside Auntie Katie’s Store

Googlemaps says it is 1.7 miles to Books with Pictures from our house, so I walked 3.4 miles there and back. The weather was warm, but I walked in the shade when I could.

I enjoyed walking down streets I hadn’t been on before and seeing how people have decorated their big front porches and small yards. Many older houses, from the 1900s and 1920s, are along Salmon and Taylor between about 20th and 29th. People have porch swings or comfy chairs set out, to visit and chat with people walking by. Some have little twinkly lights hung from the rafters, so it always looks like Christmas, or a party. There are even bicycles, mosaics, sculptures, fountains, and pink flamingoes!

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Porches in Portland are very interesting!

After I got home and put my feet up for a while, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I walked to Crema, our local coffee place, at the corner of Ankeny and 28th. We were meeting our new friends, Craig and his wife Sherry, who we first met on a walk around the neighborhood, when we saw Sherry trying to get a good photograph of the Joan of Arc statue in Coe Circle. We asked what they knew about the statue, and the conversation was so much fun we wanted it to continue, so we decided to meet for coffee.

That conversation lasted another 2 and a half hours! Like good friends do, we talked about everything…our lives, kids, troubles, people we had met, things we thought about. Not wanting so say goodbye but needing to head home and take care of business, we made plans to have dinner with them in a few weeks.

We got home and worked for a few hours, then had dinner. When it got cool enough, we took another walk, south toward Sewallcrest Park. It is about a mile from our house. There is a community garden, where people rent small plots of land to grow vegetables on. It was fun to see people and their dogs working and enjoying the evening.

Further along the park, we heard shouts and yelling. It was a kickball game! Two teams of adults, with their kids and dogs “helping”, were kicking and running and having a fine time. The game ended with a score of  7 to 1, but no one was sad…just smiling and happy and playing.

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Adult Kickball at Sewallcrest Park

We walked home, and I was finally tired. I had walked more than 5 miles during the day and was ready to be lazy. We snuggled on the couch and then went to bed.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Accidental Delights

Dear Liza,

Last night, after the weather got cooler and we were all done with work, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk. We were headed for Colonel Summers Park, but we got distracted.

We saw signs that said “Shakespeare in the Park” with an arrow pointing…not to the park, but to the Lone Fir Cemetery, which I have told you about before. I like watching plays by William Shakespeare, and so we followed the signs. In the middle of the cemetery, we found a small audience sitting in lawn chairs around one of the war memorials, and people performing a play called Troilus and Cressida. There were hardly any sets, just enough to give the idea of “where we were” for the play, which was an army camp.

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Actors in Troilus and Cressida at the Lone Fir Cemetery

There was no lighting, no microphones, and the costumes were very simple. But it was wonderful to see not only the actors, but the audience there, on a warm summer evening under the tall trees in the cemetery, enjoying theater. We watched the show for a while, then quietly left. I made a note to myself to read the play as soon as I get my Shakespeare books unpacked.

Continuing our walk, we followed Belmont Street west and realized we were only a few blocks from Revolution Hall, the former Washington High School that is now being used as offices for different businesses, concerts, and restaurants.

It is a beautifully designed brick building from 1924 and there is a small restaurant on the roof that has a wonderful view of the city. Since it was almost sunset, we decided to go up and enjoy some wine and watch the sun go down. It was pretty crowded up there on the big flat roof, but we found a table to sit at and watch as the glaring sun dipped behind the western hills and turned the whole sky a soft pink.

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Washington High School, now Revolution Hall

 

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The view west from the roof

Grandpa Nelson said we should get home before dark, so we started walking back along Stark Street towards our house. We saw the Penny Market open, a tiny building on an almost dark street. We went inside, got some ice cream and met Tom, the man in charge. He was very friendly and happy to be living in Portland, too. We got home, tired after our more than 2 mile walk, and got into pajamas.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

The Oregon Zoo

Dear Liza,

Today Grandpa Nelson and I went to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. We took the #4 bus from their house to Pioneer Square downtown, then the Blue Line Max train to Washington Park, where the zoo is. The zoo is on top of a hill, but the train doesn’t go up the hill…it goes through a tunnel underneath the hill, and when we got off the train, we took an elevator straight up to the top. The train station is 260 feet below the surface where the zoo is, so the elevator is as tall as a 28 story building! That is almost 5 times as tall as the tallest building in Salinas. The elevator went really fast and we were at the top in about 10 seconds.

We got became members of the zoo, like we did for the Art Museum, so we can go whenever we want. It is also a way of supporting the zoo, because wild animals are expensive to take care of.

The first animal we had to see was Lily the elephant. She was born at the zoo when your cousins were babies, and they have sort of grown up together. When we got to Lily’s enclosure, which is in the area of the zoo called Elephant Lands, she was far away and hard to see, but the kids shouted hello to her, anyway. We walked down a hill and found a big grassy field called the Amphitheater.

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Kestrel watching the flying birds

The people in the show, both young ladies named Bree, had wild birds fly from different parts of the field, right over our heads! There was Eagle Owl, which is the largest kind of owl. They live in Africa and hunt African Hedgehogs at night. Bree and Bree also showed us a Red-Tailed Hawk, which is an Oregon wild bird that has learned how to live here in the city. They nest in large trees on the hillsides and hunt rats and pigeons, so they actually help keep the city clean.

We learned that different animals have different names for their groups. Just like there are herds of cows and flocks of birds, there are dazzles of zebras and crushes of rhinos. I don’t know who makes up the names, but they sure are interesting.

We visited bears and penguins and got sprayed by a fountain, and then we found the  The Discovery Zone. There was a building with all sorts of activities and critters inside, like a place for kids to make up their own puppet shows, baby turtles being raised in big tubs, and games to learn about how animals live.

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Jasper making a puppet show

 

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Kestrel and Grandpa Nelson…Jasper in the background

There was also the insect zoo,  a room where there were glass boxes with really interesting bugs. There were two kinds of tarantulas, stick insects a foot long, and even a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, as big and your daddy’s thumb, which I got to pet! Cousin Kestrel watched, but didn’t pet it. It felt smooth, like it was made of glass. There were more games and young people telling all about the insects.

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Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

By this time, we were hungry for lunch we walked to the Sankuru Trader, way out by the giraffes, and had hot dogs and pretzels, with a blue raspberry icee for dessert. We felt so much better after the rest and food!

We walked all the way to the other corner of the zoo to visit the Great Northwest area. It felt just like hiking in the forest! There were beautiful trees and waterfalls, with windows that let you watch the ducks paddling on top of the water and diving underneath, too. There was a model of an eagle’s nest, and Jasper, Kestrel and I pretended we were a Momma eagle and her babies learning to fly. It was so much fun.

There was even art at the zoo. There was a wooden carving showing bears and silly cats, and a mosaic showing the stages of a salmon’s life, and a statue of mountain goats that we got to climb on.

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Kestrel, Salmon mosaic, and Jasper
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Silly Cat Carving
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Grandma Judy, Kestrel and Jasper on the goat statue

When we had seen all we could see, we took the elevator back down to the Blue Line Max train, changed to the #4 bus, and took the cousins back to their house. It had been a fun, but exhausting day. We all took naps that afternoon before dinner.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

The Laurelhurst Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

Today, while Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett were working, I went for a walk around the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It is just next to our Kerns neighborhood and very shady and pretty.

There is Laurelhurst Park, which I have told you about, 31 acres of maple, fir, oak and elm trees with places for kids to play and dogs to run, as well as a small lake for ducks and turtles, picnic tables and toys to climb on. The Park was built in 1909,  and the trees were planted then, because this land had been a farm. So these giant trees are “only” one hundred years old.  The Park was made by a landscape architect named Emanuel Mische. The hills and valleys of the land helped him make it feel like a forest and not just flat land with trees. It is my favorite place in Portland.

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Lovely old tree in Laurelhurst Park

 

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Sunlight through leaves

Back when the park was new, boys and girls played very different games from each other and didn’t play together as much as you do now. The south side of the play area was “for boys”, and the north side was “for girls”. I will have to do some more reading and learn what games they played. Now, everyone plays together, however they like.

While the park was being planted, houses were being built on land that had been William Ladd’s Hazelfern Farm. Mr. Ladd had been a mayor of Portland, and when he died, his family sold the land to the Laurelhurst Company to develop a neighborhood. It was built right along the streetcar lines, so it was easy to get to from Downtown Portland. This was before many people had cars, so they rode horses, walked, or took streetcars to get around.

Before the building started, the Laurelhurst Company put up sandstone arches at the entrances to the neighborhood. These made the place feel very special, even when it was just hills and dirt.

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The houses people built were very different from the house you have in Salinas. There are Bungalow Style, Spanish Revival, a very pretty style called Fairy Tale, and many others. Some houses are a combination of styles, so it is hard to give them all names. Sort of like if one of your Little Ponies had a crown on her head, butterfly wings, and strawberries on her bottom!

 

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Bungalow Style

thumbnail_FullSizeRender-5.jpg Spanish Revival Style

 

The building started in 1910 and in six years, 500 houses had been built. In another ten years, there were only about 20 empty lots left to build on!

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Fairy Tale Style

This was a very popular place to live. It was far enough out of town to be quiet and peaceful, but the streetcar made it easy to get to.

Coe Circle was a grassy park in the middle of the Neighborhood, and the streets go in curvy lines around it, very different from the straight streets in most of the rest of Portland. The streetcar ran right to the Circle and turned around to go back into town. In 1925, Henry Waldo Coe, a doctor who lived in Portland, wanted to give a gift to the city. He bought a copy of a statue of Joan of Arc, a famous French heroine, and had it placed in Coe Circle. It wasn’t put in the middle of the circle, because the streetcar tracks were there! The streetcar line was removed in 1925, but the statue is still off-center.

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Joan of Arc Statue

I walked for about an hour, got tired and came home to read more about what I had seen, and make lunch.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farmer’s Market in Hollywood

Dear Liza,

This morning we woke up to another very sunny day. I know that this winter it will be dark and rainy, so I am appreciating the sunshine. I just keep drinking nice cold water.

Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I drove (it was only about 2 miles, but it was hot already and we would be carrying groceries back) north to a neighborhood called Hollywood. This is a very pretty area with older houses and beautiful, shady trees. There are funny shops like the “Do-it-Yourself Pet Laundry ” and “The Wet Spot–Your Place for Tropical Fish”.

We were there to buy fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market, at NE 44th and Hancock, just off Sandy Street. In the land around Portland are farms that raise all sorts of fruits and vegetables. There are Farmer’s Markets in lots of neighborhoods on Saturdays.  Whatever is ready to eat, you can find it. The market was in the parking lot of a big supermarket, and the pavement was painted with crazy fruits and flowers.

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After walking all around the market we bought a little bit of lots of things: 10 fava beans, a small basket of blueberries, 6 tiny yellow squash, a rosemary plant in a pot (you know you need that for roasted vegetables) , some basil, and a small sausage.

There was also music by two people playing a drum and a cello, but it sounded different from any music I have ever heard. They called themselves Gaeasoul and I want to hear more of them!

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Some of what we bought

Then we realized we were hungry, so we walked down Sandy Street to Laughing Planet, a place for burritos, bowls, and sandwiches. It is delicious and fun, too. There are about 30 toy dinosaurs you can just pick up and play with, then put back when you are done. There is also a giant painting of Godzilla and Robbie the Robot on the wall.

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Inside
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Outside

 

As we were walking around the neighborhood we saw a shop called “Bricks & Minifigs”…. it is a shop where you can buy legos! Not in a kit or in a box, but

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Acres of Bricks!!!

just the pieces you want! It was amazing, like legos had escaped and were playing by themselves. There were also armies of Lego figures, all lined up. I will take you there and we will pick some interesting bricks.

By 1:00, it was time to drive Auntie Bridgett way east to Division Street and 84, to the Zine Symposium, a place where people who make small magazines get together to share and talk. She will take the #4 bus back when she is done. I hope the bus is air conditioned.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Going to the Circus!

Dear Liza,

Here in Portland, lots of people use their bicycles more than cars to get around town. Since the move, our bikes have been buried in the very-full garage, but yesterday, Grandpa Nelson and I unburied them, got the tires pumped up, and rode two miles to see Cousin Jasper and Cousin Kestrel be in a circus.

The ride was fun and not scary because we rode on the “bike throughway” on 29th, then turned onto Salmon. We only had to cross one busy street and most cars stopped when they saw us. I hadn’t ridden that far in years, but I was comfortable.

The circus was at an old church that has been turned into a public arts venue called Taborspace. There are lots of summer camps, classes and other activities there. It sits on the side of Mount Tabor, an extinct volcano right here in town, so the bike ride had some serious uphill the end, but when I got tired, I just got off and pushed my bike to the top.

The circus was the final day of Circus Cascadia summer camp. It is a not for profit group that teaches kids self-confidence, skills, cooperation and fun! Under a real circus tent out of the hot sun, we sat on bright red benches. There were about 12 kids in the camp, from six year old cousin Kestrel to thirteen year old Milo, who had been in the camp before and knew lots of skills.

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Cousin Jasper being a clown

Lots of parents, grandparents and friends came to see the show. The ringmaster was Paul, a very funny and patient man from England. He gave directions for what the performers should do next. We watched as they performed on Chinese stilts with ribbons, rings, and flower sticks, juggling, tossing, balancing and (sometimes) dropping things. The best thing I heard all day was Lizzy, one of Paul’s assistants, yell “Celebrate your drops! They are your friends!” The focus on the positive and improving as you went along was just wonderful to see.

They also did acrobatics, balancing on a big ball, and balancing on each other to make pyramids. At last there were clown acts, where the kids would do skits they had practiced. If they got it wrong, they didn’t give up but did it again, even a few more times, and we got to see them improve.

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Cousin Kestrel on a pyramid

At the end of the circus I got to visit with some of the folks and give cookies to Jasper and Kestrel. Then we rode home. It sure was easier coming down the mountain than going up!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Klickitat Street

Dear Liza,

The other day I told you about our busy day at Pip’s Doughnuts, IKEA and Costco. There was another exciting part of that day. We drove down Klickitat Street!

I know you haven’t read them yet, but there is a wonderful series of books by Beverly Cleary that all happen on Klickitat Street. Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy and neighbors Beezus and Ramona Quimby have lots of adventures. For many years I didn’t know that it was a real street in a real place, but it sure is!

Beverly Cleary herself grew up in this northeast section of Portland, on 37th Street just down a bit. She was labeled a low reader in first grade, and as she said, “To be in the Blackbird group was to be disgraced.” Her own school librarian encouraged her and she had caught up by third grade, and was told by her sixth grade teacher that she should be an author. Mrs. Cleary grew up to be a children’s librarian who was frustrated because there weren’t enough books that really interested children. She began writing and published her first book, “Henry Huggins”, in 1950. That is six years before I was even born!

Beverly Cleary used her own childhood as a model for her stories, which deal with the everyday joys and dilemmas of childhood. They are funny for children and adults and feel very real in their approach to family life. She liked the name Klickitat because it reminded her of the sound of knitting needles.

Today, Klickitat Street is still in the middle of a pretty part of the city, a neighborhood called Roseway, far enough out from Downtown to be quiet but still very busy. The street is one of the most heavily used of the “Bicycle Throughways” in Portland, roads that are signed for bikes and where car traffic is discouraged. These throughways make biking much safer and more fun.

Today I have been writing letters to friends, reading one of my favorite books, Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”, and listening to the crows. This afternoon Grandpa Nelson and I will ride our bikes to see cousins Jasper and Kestrel be in a circus from their summer camp. I am sure enjoying life up here in Portland!

Love,

Grandma Judy