The Portland Thorns

Dear Liza,

The team logo

Last week Grandpa Nelson and I went to our first ever professional soccer game! We saw the Portland Thorns play the Houston Dash at Providence Park here in town. Soccer is such a big part of the Portland culture, we wanted to give it a try.

Our State’s motto, illustrated in soccer!

As usual, the magic number 15 bus got us where we wanted to go. Outside the stadium, the ladies reminding us to open our bags for inspection were also chanting “PT! (clap clap) FC! (clap clap) I figured out this stood for Portland Thorns Football Club, but it took a minute.

New decor

The Thorns are a professional women’s team, and are so good that several of the players were on the International Championship-winning team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris a few weeks ago. Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath were on the US team, and others played for their country of origin, like Brazil.

Lindsey Horan on Jumbotron

The buses and trains were full of folks wearing green, red and black, as well as Thorns scarves and tee shirts, as we headed downtown. A river of happy fans moved toward the stadium. Providence Park has just finished a multi-year remodel to increase capacity and modernize the facility, and this is the first time I’ve seen it unwrapped. Outside, there was art and new decoration.

More art!

Inside there were homages to the old structure, as well as posters and timelines that told about Mr. Lownsdale’s tanning factory, which stood on this spot over 150 years ago.

Homage to history

Our seats faced due west, and the sun was RIGHT in our eyes until it ducked behind the stadium. I improvised and was more comfortable, but I did look like I had borrowed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s poke bonnet .

Fighting the sun

The new construction in the stadium provided for lots of places to sit and watch the game besides your regular seats, and many new places to eat. Beer and wine, of course, were also close by.

There were opening ceremonies, where players who had played internationally were recognized, and local singer Tiffany Dempsey performed the notoriously difficult national anthem beautifully. All the close-ups were captured on a new Jumbotron screen that let us feel even more up close and personal than our 12th row seats did.

Focused fans

Soccer games have a really different rhythm than baseball, which is the only other sport I follow. There are two 45 minute halves and a 15 minute halftime, with no time outs, innings, or other built-in breaks. Many folks stayed in their seats whenever there was action on the field, cheering for goals and reacting loudly and emotionally whenever the other team got possession of the ball.

Action on the field

Every now and then, chants of “EQUAL PAY! EQUAL PAY!” broke out, highlighting the discrepancy in professional soccer players’ pay. Women make just 10% of what men do, despite being responsible for the larger percentage of attendance. The international success of the women’s team, and the failure of the US men’s team to make it anywhere near the finals, have brought this issue forward.

The most avid fans call themselves The Rose City Riveters, and all sit in one section. They have chants (led by energetic folks), and roared “One Goal Beyond!” for the first goal, “Two Goals Beyond!” for the second, and so forth. They even set off a bright red smoke bomb whenever the Thorns scored, and several sections march back and forth. It was fun to watch…from a distance.

Celebration of a goal by the Rose City Riveters

The section we were in had the disadvantage of the bright afternoon sun for a while, but some advantages, as well. During the first half, a young man tossed hot, free, wrapped hot dogs and hamburgers to fans, followed by candy and chips in the second half. His aim was very good, and his supply seemed endless. There is also an air conditioned cafe close by, which sells regular stadium fare at discounted prices.

VooDoo for everyone!

And near the end of the match, VooDoo Doughnuts opened up a table at the top of the section, and you could walk up and take as many as you could carry! Kids and parents were fetching for the family. It was amazing!

When time ran out and the Thorns had won 5-0, we joined the exiting river and walked a few blocks to catch a bus home. It was standing room only and full of fans, but we were all happy with the thrill of victory.


Grandma Judy

Art Along the Way

Dear Liza,

Art is everywhere in Portland! On our long walk through the neighborhoods last week, we got to see all sorts of it.

Mural on a doomed building

In Kerns, the old Sunshine Dairy building is due to be torn down and the lot turned into a high rise apartment building. It is home to this extensive, colorful mural. I like to mention the difference between “tagging”, which is just scribbled names or words, and “street art”, which demonstrates creativity, planning, and skill. This mural, which I would most definitely call street art, will disappear when the building does.

Delightful farming animals at Gabriel’s Bakery PDX

Just across the Banfield Freeway is Gabriel’s Bakery PDX USA. Besides smelling delicious, each of its loading dock doors has a delightful mural, depicting animals helping out with the wheat harvest. Llamas, sheep and even a mama fox and her cub are shown in peasant clothes. They are adorable.

Crossing into Sullivan’s Gulch, we found this mural to remind us where we were. It was painted by volunteers and shows Native art and other original occupants of the place.

Neighborhood pride

Political statements are everywhere in Portland, and this was my favorite of the day.

Political statement

A yarn-bombing always shows a fun neighborhood. Creativity on display in a non-permanent, non-vandalism way is always welcome, in my opinion.

Yarn bombing!

In the Eliot neighborhood we found this display in a front yard. Is is a playful cemetery? Or just a way to show off some pretty plates?

Art of unknown intent

Murals in the Eliot neighborhood show realistic and symbolic local stories… mothers and children missing absent fathers, ghosts of those who have passed away, and a strong ethnic personality.

Neighborhood ghosts…

I don’t think I will ever tire of finding new art here in Portland.


Grandma Judy

Walking Through New Neighborhoods

Portland’s Neighborhoods

Dear Liza,

I can tell Grandpa Nelson is feeling better, because we are going on more really long walks. Yesterday we covered five and a half miles on foot!

We headed north from our house in Sunnyside ( a green rectangle near the center of the map), and passed familiar places like The Pie Spot, which used to feel like a long walk.

1928 High School in Kerns

Along the way we passed through the Kerns neighborhood, which is home to the da Vinci Arts magnet school, in a building that was built in 1928 as a girl’s polytechnic school.

We left Kerns when we crossed the Banfield Freeway on a noisy pedestrian overpass, and entered the Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood.

Sullivan’s Gulch is actually the name of the ravine which for years was a barrier to city development, and now holds three different sets of train tracks and eight lanes of freeway.

Crossing the Banfield Freeway

Sullivan’s Gulch is home to many historic homes and businesses, such as the now-closed Sunshine Dairy, with its 50 foot tall carton of milk. This building is set for demolition and will soon be a 20 story apartment building. It is also the home of the Helen Bernhard Bakery on Broadway, Grandpa Nelson’s favorite doughnut maker in the world. We stopped for a snack.

We will miss you, Sunshine Dairy!

Leaving Sullivan’s Gulch, we entered the Irvington neighborhood. This area is where the monied class moved around 1900, when the downtown area became too crowded to be genteel. Many large, beautiful Victorian and Craftsman style homes were built on large lots, and have been well maintained. The century-old chestnut trees gave us good shade and made us feel welcome.

Wonderful Irvington home

In Irvington we met Jane, a lady who lives in the 1913 F.E. Bowman apartments. She liked our appreciation of history and invited us in to see her apartment, which has really large windows and classic 1920s built-in cupboards.

1913 apartment building (love the brickwork!)

Grandpa Nelson’s original goal was Irving Park, which has a baseball diamond, large wooded area, and fun water play fountains. We got our tired feet wet, cooled off, and decided if we wanted to continue on. We did!

Fun fountains at Irving Park

In the Eliot neighborhood, which had interesting home made art projects on display, we enjoyed a pleasant rest at Denorval Unthank Park. The park is named for an African-American doctor who was brought to town in 1929 to treat the domestic servants and railroad porters, who were also African American and whom none of the local (white) doctors would treat.

We walked a little further and found a wonderful lunch of hamburgers and french fries at at “barbar”, where we had eaten sometime last year.

Crossing the 5

By now we were eyeing our return home, and crossed the 5 freeway on another pedestrian bridge. This one had good views of downtown, and our favorite skyscraper, Big Pink. It dropped us at Overlook Park, where we had views of the Fremont Bridge and a Trimet stop for the yellow line train. This took us to the Pearl and Downtown via the Steel Bridge, and we transferred to the magic number 15 to get us back.

The view from Overlook Park

What a wonderful day!


Grandma Judy

Return to The Enchanted Forest

Auntie Katie ….not so sure about this…

Dear Liza,

Some smaller sculptures

Last week Grandpa Nelson and I, along with Auntie Katie and the Cousins, went to Enchanted Forest. This hand-made roadside attraction is the dream child of Roger Tofte, who bought the steep 20 acre property in 1964 and began building a fairy tale park.

Learning as he went, Mr. Tofte started with small things, like the pumpkin for Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater and some mushrooms, and then moved on to bigger things. I especially love his Wicked Witch, which has steps up and a slide down, and is very “witchy”.

Jasper on the Frog Hopper

Auntie Katie hasn’t been to The Enchanted Forest since she was two years old. Both have grown since then.

Cool skull…

Now there are rides, like the Frog Hopper and Bumper Boats. Some have height requirements… you must be “this” tall, but no taller than “this”. Unfortunately, that meant that Jasper was too big for some rides he wanted to go on, and too small for others. Feelings were hurt and howls were heard echoing through the forest. But we all got through it.

Very Gandalf-like figure on “The Challenge of Mondor”

I guess I must really be a Grandma… I was less interested in riding the rides than I was in watching the kids riding them, and really, most impressed with the skill Mr. Tofte developed in carving his magical place. Dark, spooky Caves to wander through, critters and faces and skulls in unexpected places… all these made me stop and smile in the middle of melt downs and log rides.

After lunch of pizza, watching dancing fountains and Irish music, and some ice cream, it was time to head home. The one hour drive home took almost TWO because of Portland commuter traffic. But Auntie Bridgett had tuna salad waiting for dinner when we got home.

Home sweet home!


Grandma Judy

Walking to PAM

Dear Liza,

Downtown as seen from the Eastside of the Hawthorne Bridge

Grandpa Nelson and I took a walk the other day, all the way to Downtown. Usually we take the magic 15 bus and then decide to walk home, but we finally figured out that it is DOWNHILL to downtown, and UPHILL home! So the three miles going in that direction are sure easier!

Cool bike sculpture

We walked down Salmon Street most of the way. The houses and trees are all from the 1900s and are interesting and beautiful. The street is also a Greenway, so there is less car traffic.

Marker of Phoenix Ironworks factory

We saw some interesting things, like this sculpture on a balcony, made out of old bicycle wheels. There were also some arching fig trees big enough to sleep in.

Nearer the river, we found this iron sculpture that memorializes the Phoenix Ironworks’ location from the 1890s. The almost abstract piece lets you see a bit of the roofline of the factory. Many of the manhole covers in Salinas and other places were built right here!

Old industrial building

From the part of the Hawthorne Bridge that goes over the warehouse district, I was able to see old industrial buildings and their decorations up close. It is nice to think that even cement factories had tried to be pretty.

Surprised mannequins

More modern art installations stood on other buildings, like these store mannequins looking surprised to be out in the open.

Pretty arcade

Once across the bridge we stopped for lunch at The Good Earth, a fresh sandwich shop. Very tasty and friendly. It is in the same building as the Police Station, and there are some fancy decorations in the walkway out front.

Taking care of the art!

Finally, we got to the Portland Art Museum! Grandpa Nelson hadn’t seen the Paris 1900 exhibit yet, so this was his first time. We watched “Voyage to the Moon”, enjoyed seeing Paris again, and watched moms explain the pictures to their kids.

The walk had been three miles, though, and we were pretty tired. As we left, we saw this fine fellow polishing “Eye of Orion” by Manuel Izquierdo, a bronze sculpture that needs Just a little care. We caught the bus home and had a nice rest.


Grandma Judy

Lan Su and Train Sushi

Color, reflections and shadows

Dear Liza,

Last week I got to spend the day with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. I picked them up at their house, which is the apartment above Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures. Having their house and business in the same place is sure handy!

Scholar Stone

After I got everyone breakfast, we caught the number 2 bus. It was perfect for this trip, because it goes from just outside their door to one block from the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This garden is a whole city block of beauty and serenity surrounded by a wall. It was created in 2000 by a group of volunteers.

We entered right behind a tour group, which had a lady explaining things about the garden. We sat very still and learned about “Scholar Stones”, also called Lake Tai stones because that is where, in China, they are found. They are limestone, and their irregular shapes are caused by carbonated water that bubbles up from the bottom of the lake.

Meditative Kestrel

We learned that they symbolize the wisdom and special beauty that come with age because of their rough exteriors, that the holes in them allow them to ‘listen’ to the wind as it blows through, and that they are always perched with their heavier end UP, to symbolize mind winning out over matter. As an old, irregularly shaped wind-listener, I felt very proud to have these stones represent me.

We spent a lot of time watching the beautiful koi who live in the pond. Their golden, silver, white and steel grey colors play delightfully with the dark water and reflections.

Tea House View
Veggie buns and rose tea
Jasper enjoying snacks

Snacks and a quiet sit down in the Tea House are an important part of any day in the Lan Su. The steamed vegetable buns, puffed rice bars and red bean “moon” cakes were delicate but filling, and Kestrel washed hers down with a pink rose tea. The view of the garden and sky through the carved wooden window frames was as pretty as a picture.

Just outside the Tea House, a lady was helping keep the garden pretty. Wearing waders, she was walking in the pong among the waterlilies, pulling off spent blossoms and stems that were wilted. She told us that if the rotten stems stay in the water, they rot and make the koi sick. She likes her job because it is fun and important.

After a while, we needed to leave the garden so Jasper could have some “train sushi”. He meant Sushi Ichiban, a modest sushi restaurant in Chinatown where the small dishes of sushi come around, you guessed it, on a toy train!

It’s the sushi train!
A new way of ‘seeing’ the garden

It was interesting, watching the locomotive and cars go by, guessing which plates would be acceptable to Kestrel, who is a very picky eater. Jasper enjoyed the California Roll he chose, and some other dishes that Kestrel chose but wouldn’t eat. I had cast offs from everyone, including a surprisingly yummy fried halibut cheek.

When the restaurant closed, we headed back to Lan Su for a little more time in Chinese serenity. The new docent encouraged us to take off our shoes and experience the different pavings with our bare feet!

Iconic feet

This was such an unexpected, wonderful treat! The bumpy pebbles, sharper cut stones and smooth floors of the pavilions gave us a whole new appreciation of the thought and skill that went into every inch of this garden.Eventually we all realized it was time to catch the bus and head home. What a lovely day!


Grandma Judy

Bastille Day Reprise

Bridgett and her “A Paris, I wish I was…”

Dear Liza,

On Sunday July 14, Auntie Bridgett’s Gallery, SideStreetArts, celebrated Bastille Day.

Un Grand repas Parisian

The show of the month is called The Shape of Clay, and isn’t French, but the other decorations, lots of Bridgett’s work, and food and drink were very Parisian oriented.

Gail Owen, wearing her chicken scarf, and Kat Mistrry

Auntie Bridgett’s new work includes Paris rooftops, remembering our apartment views when we stayed there, and a wonderful big Eiffel Tower piece that makes me homesick.

Gail Owen used her printing skills to create bandanas with fleur du lis and some lovely silk scarves with hens on them….very French country inspired!

“Improbably Beautiful and Afraid of Nothing” by Shelly Fredenberg

I baked about a gazillion Palmiers, and other folks brought goat cheese, Brie, macarons, and sliced baguettes. Champagne, mimosas and kir cocktails were offered.

“Puppetshow” by Sara Swink

I am happy to say, the food and drink were enjoyed by an enormous crowd and art sales were most definitely UP. The Southeast Examiner and Facebook Websites had the gallery listed under “Places in Portland to celebrate Bastille Day”, which brought a lot of new people in. A great deal of work by dozens of artists paid off, for the publicity, good will, and sales.

Chayo Wilson’s wondrous combinations

The regular show, The Shape of Clay, features more than 30 ceramicists’ work. Quirky, lovely, and just plain odd, these were wonderful to look at and very tempting to touch. But I resisted!

I feel so full of art, culture, history and, well, cheese. What a blessing!


Grandma Judy