In late June of this year, this new Dawn Redwood was planted at the eastern edge of the Dog Off Leash Area in Laurelhurst Park. We noticed it and named it Willie, after my Momma and because he has this little wiggle near the top…Willie with a Wiggle, Wiggle Willie, something like that. There are several magnificent old Dawn Redwoods already in the park, so we figured he was guaranteed success.
But this has been an unusually hot and dry summer. Since early June, the city has seen about a quarter of an inch of rain, with weeks of temperatures near 100 degrees. This sort of drought is hard on all the plants, but especially those with tiny baby root systems.
During the summer we have kept tabs on Willie. He has gotten browner and more spindly and we have been worried.
But he is a deciduous tree, which means that he is supposed to lose his little needle-leaves in the Fall. Maybe the browning is natural, and not drought related.
Now that the rain seems to have started, I hope he can grow and be as tall and weirdly handsome as his older colleagues.
Here in Portland, Summer isn’t willing to give up just yet. The roses and dahlias are blooming in what looks like a joyous shout before tucking in for the colder months. Portland is known as The Rose City (since 1888, anyway) but all flowers do well here.
We are having days that start damp and grey with wet sidewalks, burst into sunshine for lunch dates, then get cloudy again by dinner. It is dramatic and beautiful.
Our painters are almost done with the outside of the building, so today I get to put all Momma’s geraniums back on the patio. The poor plants have been holding their collective breath for two weeks, in a foyer with not enough sunlight or fresh air.
The Green Rain trees in the neighborhood are putting on their big show: seeds pods! They start as small swellings on the bud, and are now these bunches of pods that rattle like maracas when you shake them…which I do, every time I go by! Hey, it’s a toy, I’m a just big kid…what do you expect?
Today I will walk up to Yen’s and have her cut my hair. I am feeling too shaggy and need to spruce up a bit. Also, I want to show her this photo of the ginger cutting she gave us when we were last in, about 7 weeks ago. Bridgett put the cutting in water and, after a rocky start, sprouted roots like crazy! I am sure she will be happy to see her baby doing well.
Monday was Auntie Bridgett’s birthday! The day started late, because Mouse the kitten actually let us sleep in. She usually starts dashing about like a maniac at 7:00, but this morning she was peacefully sitting on the bed until almost 8:30! Sweet kitty.
Our second lovely surprise was that it rained last night, our first measurable rain in 83 days! The clouds hung around for the rest of the day, spitting off and on. Very nice and Portland-Ish.
Once we were all up and dressed, we walked to a place just a block away that we have been meaning to try, The Cricket Cafe. On weekends it is packed with brunchers, but Monday morning we had it all to ourselves. The biscuits and gravy were good and Auntie Bridgett loved her scrambled eggs, sausage, and fruit. The coffee was wonderfully rich and just the jolt we needed to get on with a big day. It is nice having so many delicious places so close by!
We walked back home, where I made my first flan. Bridgett has been dealing with some sort of food allergy, so she is staying away from anything made with flour. Flan is just milk, cream, sugar and eggs! She also opened presents….earrings, sketchbooks, an IOU for our next trip to Europe from Grandpa Nelson, and an Annalee Birthday Mouse from Bridgett’s Grandma Bea. It is weirdly adorable.
Around 11 we caught the #15 downtown for shopping. As part of her present, Bridgett got some new clothes at the Gap. We had lunch at Kenny and Zuke’s delicatessen, which was very busy because today is Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year. We ate, watched the passers by and recharged our batteries.
A few blocks up the road we went into Dick Blick’s Art Supplies. New colored pencils for Bridgett, lots of fun looking at things for Grandpa Nelson and me. I really enjoy their wooden floor, which is made out of recycled basketball courts. Powell’s City of Books was next, where we had a fun time looking but didn’t buy anything except a shortbread cookie. Yummy, anyway.
Finally, under threatening skies, we headed back to catch the bus, got home, and rested our weary feet before starting dinner.
Dinner, as it turns out, was leftovers from yesterday’s potluck (baked beans with fruit salad) but the flan I made really turned out well. Creamy and not too sweet, I served it with berries and kiwis. And one candle, because Auntie Bridgett is ONE year older.
A walk through the park, a Scrabble game (not over yet) and a Facetime visit with Bridgett’s sister Esther and the kids made the day complete!
Friday evening, Grandpa Nelson and I took Auntie Bridgett to dinner at the Ankeney Tap and Table a little earlier than usual. Since it was First Friday, she would be helping welcome people at The SideStreet Gallery, where several local artists (including her!) show their work. There are ceramics, collages, paintings, and jewelry. It was fun to see so many wonderful pieces and chat with the artists.
The very next day was the Belmont Street Fair, the last fair of the summer. Early in the morning it felt like it might rain, but the fat grey clouds blew away and we had cool sunshine. The day started with a short walk to Oblique Coffee, which has the best coffee in our neighborhood. The family that runs it is fun, too.
At the fair we met the folks of Dysfunktional Art, who make adorably weird critters out of discarded hardware and kitchenware. I asked where they find their materials, they said people just bring them by! Freebies! Nice.
Heather Lee Kolbo makes really impressive art from recycled wood scraps that she gets at The ReBuilding Center up in the Mississippi neighborhood.
With primary election season coming up, there are booths supporting candidates, ballot measures, and always interesting ideas. The Voluntary Human Extinction folks weren’t here, but the Zero Population Growth folks were. As much as I support family planning, I don’t think making any law about what we do with our bodies is a good idea.
The dogs were out in force, including an accidental Corgie meet up that delighted everyone. Hollandaise, the hen, out with her sister Bernaise, were enjoying lots of visitors and treats. I asked if the ‘girls’ were having a good day, and their owner said, “They are now, because you said hi!”
At the old Belmont Firehouse, I investigated how fires were fought in 1903. There is a wonderful old horse drawn fire wagon on display, the kind that would have fought the fire at the Zann Broom Company and the adjacent match factory, which was in a wooden building three blocks from a school. (I’m not kidding). Zoning laws exist for a reason, people!
I chatted with Lieutenant Michael Springberg. In addition to handing out plastic helmets and stickers to kids, he shared his firefighter’s perspective on Portland urban development. His background in education and interest in history gave us common ground and I hope we can continue our conversation sometime.
Grandpa Nelson and I walked back through the increasing crowds, dropping off my card at Inkwater, the local publisher I would like to work with if any of my writing gets to paper.
I’ve told you that Portland is a city where dogs are very popular, but I still prefer cats. Our cat, Mouse (Miss Mousie Mouskin of the Mouseville Mousekins), is my favorite, of course.
She has the balance of a desire for adventure and a love of relaxation that I find copacetic.
But I’m not the only one here who loves cats. There are cats all over the neighborhood, happy, brave, silly and even weird.
There are cats in art here, as well. The McMenamin brothers’ chain of bars and hotels have a a picture of its “distillery cat”, along with Ruby the brewer witch and Hammerhead guy, who is painted in every one of their establishments.
While we were visiting Edgefield, which is a McMenamin’s location east of Portland, we saw this disgruntled cat on the back window of a car.
Sunnyside Environmental School, in our neighborhood, has one painted on its doors, I guess to keep the free roaming chickens company.
Auntie Bridget puts cats into her art all the time. My birthday card this year, which went all the way down to Salinas, featured her and Grandpa Nelson, as cats!
That’s all I’ve got to say about cats in art, for now. But rest assured, there will be more…later.
With all the walking we do around the neighborhoods, we get to see a lot about people’s lives. We see them moving in or out, jump starting dead batteries, arguing with their children, picking the fruit in their gardens, and helping pull fallen branches from the street.
We see a lot of dogs being walked… on leashes and off, poking along behind, dashing ahead, or being wheeled in carriages. Portland is a very big dog-city. I heard that 50% of the households have one or more dogs. That’s millions of dogs!
I do enjoy the dogs. I love seeing the dog-joy on display when the leash is unclipped and they run at top speed, just because they can. I love how dogs are part of people’s lives wherever we go.
But you know me. I am a cat person. Their joy of sleep, their short list of needs, their “yeah, you feed me, but let’s not make a big deal about it” attitude.
Cats in Portland are mostly people friendly. They will saunter up to be petted, or dash over as if checking our credentials. They roll to be petted or stoically stand their ground. What they don’t do as much is run away. These are confident cats.
Fall will officially be here in just two weeks, and the weather is still hot and dry. Walking is limited to the evening because of 90 degree temperatures in the daytime.
After dinner yesterday we walked south passing one of our favorite neighborhood landmarks, Fort Awesome. It’s a house.
We continued to Sewallcrest Park, where we saw adult kickball last year. There were lots of other folks out enjoying the evening.
There were two groups of soccer players, a young ladies’ team and what seemed to be a men’s pick-up game (they asked Grandpa Nelson if he wanted to play), both playing half-field. When the ladies were finished, the men moved to the center and used all the space.
There was a group of older men playing basketball, making good shots and passes but wisely taking lots of breathers and drinks of water in between.
Besides these organized games, there was the usual nappers, dog walkers, and joggers. A mom and her daughter rolled by on skateboards. The sunset turned the light pink and everything was magical.
On the way home we enjoyed special Eastside Portland views; the sun going down at the end of Hawthorne Street, an old car enjoying new life as an art piece, and front yard chickens, being chickens.