It was raining this morning when we woke up! It was actually chilly! I know there will come a time when this gets old, but for now, I am enjoying the cool, the sound of rain, and the way the light reflects off the drops.
After breakfast I bundled up and went walking in the park. It felt even more like a forest than ever. With fewer people and dogs, the ducks were more active, and the soft sounds of rain and wind were everywhere. (Sigh)
Walking my regular route through the park, I noticed changes. Small dents in the path had become small ponds, and the squirrels were drinking from them. Clear paths had become upholstered with leaves and small branches which had come down in the wind.
I have recently learned a new word: susurration. It means a whispering sound, or a murmur, especially in contrast with louder noises. Laurelhurst Park, this morning, was full of susurration. The wind whispered in the tops of trees, the rain whispered on the puddles, even the bicycles whispered as they rolled past.
And of course, the surface of the pond was alive with drops and ripples. One duck was awake and drifted along with me under the protection of a tree. The reflection and soft music of the textured surface made it worth getting a bit damp.
This all made me smile and remember a poem from The Wind in the Willows, and of Laurel Bloombaum:
Today was predicted to be our first real rain in over two months. Portland usually gets some rain even in the summer, but this has been a really dry one. Today that was supposed to end.
But we had things to do. Grandpa Nelson and I wanted to go downtown, so we had coffee and fresh doughnuts at the Rocking Frog on Belmont and then caught the #15 bus.
Going across the Hawthorne Bridge, we saw a whole long line of people walking, and most of them were wearing PINK! T-Shirts, hats, tutus, all kinds of things, and all bright pink. It was the last bit of the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, a fund raiser for breast cancer research. There were hundreds of people, walking, jogging, and laughing. I bet they raised a lot of money!
At Tom McCall Waterfront Park, along the west bank of the river, there was a stage with loud music and lots of booths selling food, snacks, even ice cream! But we had just eaten doughnuts, so we passed.
Turning west on Yamhill, we walked up towards Pioneer Place, an old building that has been re-done to have new stores inside. Inside the atrium, the high glassed-in part, there were statues made of cans of food! This one was supposed to be a copy of Rene Magritte’s self-portrait, which your mommy and daddy will recognize as the man in the derby hat with the green apple in front of his face. If you look really closely, you can see it a bit.
Grandpa Nelson needed some Clark’s shoes. The ones he has are really old and getting sort of floppy. But we didn’t get any. It turns out, the kind he really likes, they don’t make anymore. So we passed on those, too. We went outside, expecting the rain to start any minute. We walked towards Pioneer Square, since I have always been in a hurry when we are there., and I wanted to get a good look at it. But it was closed off for a private party! Grrr.
So, with a frustrating morning behind us and rain ready to start, we got back on the bus and headed for home. We did see some more statues of animals, though…it’s hard to be angry where there are brass seals and beavers on the sidewalk!
Got home, no rain…read some history, no rain…Auntie Bridgett got home, no rain… I got antsy and decided to go for a walk in the park, and FINALLY the rain started! Not only rain, but wind and swirls of leaves, all dancing and turning around like happy confetti.
Friday was a day where nothing much was planned, but things just kept happening. In the morning, Auntie Bridgett and I took the giant pile of books we had borrowed and walked them back to the library. My research into Portland history has me visiting the library a lot. So we packed up my eight books and Auntie Bridgett’s three, and walked to the Belmont Library on Cesar Chavez and Taylor.
Cesar Chavez is a main north/south road, and very noisy, so we walked through the neighborhood. It was a good day for cats, bright new paint jobs on houses, and seed pods. A very satisfactory stroll.
Library books returned, we headed south to the UPS Store and bank on Hawthorne. We were hungry, and headed further east on Hawthorne to The Whole Bowl. This little restaurant started as a food cart and made enough money to get a real building. They only serve one thing, in two sizes: a big bowl, and a bambino bowl. The bowl has two kinds of beans, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and a garlicky lemony sauce . It is so wonderfully good you just keep eating! We shared a big bowl and a bottle of kombucha, a fermented tea drink, and we were ready to continue our walk.
As we walked back toward the library, we found St. Patrick’s Church, a big Catholic Church we hadn’t seen before. It was beautiful and bright on the outside, but seemed dark inside, either because the windows were too small, or our eyes were used to the bright. We didn’t stay, but we will remember where it is so we can tell Bridgett’s mom when she visits.
Back at the Belmont Library, I hunted for some books on World War I, because my story will have some things that happen in 1918. The story doesn’t happen IN the war, but DURING the war. So I need to know…what were kids doing to help? What foods were rationed? What did people use instead? I need details! So, I read. I checked out three new books and we headed home.
After Auntie Bridgett and I got home (after walking over 4 miles!), she went down to draw in The Art Bunker, as she calls our basement, and I read…and napped. I read some more, and then it was dinner time. We read some more until the NEXT thing.
We had tickets for the Northwest Animation Festival at the Hollywood Theater up on Sandy. We stopped at the Moon and Sixpence Pub for a beer and cider before the show. There were people playing darts, but no noisy football games on TV, so we were happy.
The Hollywood Theater is a classic old movie theater from the 1940’s and is very elegant. It was really crowded, though, so I didn’t take pictures inside.
The Animation film festival really happened in May, when a lot more films were shown. The ones we saw were voted the BEST. The films were short, from 2 to 16 minutes long, but were really interesting. Some, like “Life Inside ‘Islamic State'” were very sad. Others, like “Birdlime” and “Spring Jam”, were happy and sweet, about birds and the sounds they make. Others, like “Resistance”, which had giant bugs drinking champagne, were really creepy. The variety of styles of animation and countries they came from (The United States, Canada, England, Israel, Poland, France, New Zealand, and Germany) was delightful.
We got home really late (almost midnight!) and pretty much collapsed into bed, with our heads full of weird images from the festival.
I haven’t written on this blog for a few days, and you know why…you were here in Portland! It was so good to see you and your daddy after these long months. You have gotten taller and smarter. Daddy is just as wonderful as always.
Of course, when you got here, there were snickerdoodle cookies to hold us until dinner. Grandpa Nelson had made reservations at a restaurant we had been saving for your daddy especially: The Laurelhurst Market, at NE 32nd and Burnside. Their specialty is meat: beef, steaks, pork, sausages…and they do it all very well. I had flank steak with chickory, which gave it a nice crunchy outside to go with the rich goodness inside.
After dinner we walked home through the neighborhood and talked about all the things we love about Portland. The tiny book-sharing libraries, the huge trees, the friendly people.
The next day we got up early and took the bus/train/elevator to the ZOO at Washington Park! It was fun seeing things I had missed the last time, and showing you some of my favorite animals. Somehow, we missed the fruit bats, which I really like, but we’ll catch them next time.
When we were too tired to smile, it was time to head down the hill and get lunch. Grandpa Nelson found The Picnic House, which is a beautiful old lobby of the Heathman Hotel, on Salmon at the South Park Blocks. The ceiling is at least 30 feet high, and there is a stuffed bear head wearing a hat and a monocle over the bar. The food was delicious and the slow pace gave us time to relax and rest from our long morning.
The bus trip home was very quiet. At home, you and I had naps, and Grandpa and Daddy sat and talked for hours. Then it was time for the SECOND big activity of the day: Picnic dinner with Auntie Katie, Uncle Dave, Cousin Jasper, and Cousin Kestrel! We packed dinner, wine, toys, and chairs, and headed off to Laurelhurst Park. The rest of the family came a little later, and we ate, played, talked, threw sticks and frisbees, and dug holes in the dirt.
It made me so happy to see everyone together and getting along so well. There aren’t a lot of cousins in this family, so we need to appreciate the ones we have. When it was too dark to see, we all came home and played Legos, while the Dads talked computers and airplanes downstairs. We ate the last of the cookies and sent everyone home to bed.
This morning, the cousins went to school and you and Daddy went to the airport. I was sad to see you go, but I know we’ll get together soon.
Yesterday was Sunday. It was also Auntie Bridgett’s birthday, and we spent the whole day doing Auntie Bridgett’s favorite things.
First, we had a small breakfast to get ready for a busy day. Then we opened presents! She got some fancy silverware from her Aunt Chris and Uncle Ken, and Grandpa Nelson and I got her a badminton set! We have such a nice big park, we should have games to play in it. More about that later.
Passing Belmont Street, we noticed that the old murals I had taken pictures of are being painted over and new murals painted in. Here are the beginnings of the new ones.
Then we walked through the neighborhood to 32nd Avenue and Hawthorne Street. Awhile back we had seen a red double-decker bus (like they use in London) being used as a coffee shop! It is called Tov Coffee (Tov means ‘good’ in Hebrew), and Bridgett wanted to see inside.
Needless to say, the inside is TINY. It is a bus, after all, and also needs room for coffee making machines and dishes and fellows behind the counter. But it was pretty…walls and ceilings painted a nice purple, finely carved wooden everythings, and photos of Egypt. We ordered our coffees and went up the narrow twisty stairs to the top of the bus. A nice roof has been made of pvc pipe and heavy plastic, which keeps out the sun on bright days and the rain on not-so-bright ones. When our coffees were delivered we enjoyed the view of the street and people-watching.
Our weather is getting cooler, feeling very much like fall. Trees are starting to change colors and leaves are crunching underfoot. We walked to a pop-up restaurant called hunnymilk. A pop-up is when a group of cooks and waiters who don’t have a restaurant borrow a restaurant and serve their own food. In this case, hunnymilk, which makes fabulous brunch, borrowed the space and kitchen of La Buca, an Italian restaurant. We had the best biscuits and butter ever, fried french toast, roast potatoes, and pork ribs with garlicky cheese grits. OH MY, was it good. We ate until we were happily stuffed.
But we still couldn’t finish it all! We will have a day or two of delicious leftovers.
After we rested and digested for a while, we took the badminton set to the park, set it up, and started playing. We were delightfully awful…years of no practice had us running and flailing like windmills. But it was fun, so we kept it up. And by the time we were too tired to move, we had gotten much better. We staggered home for more rest before our final destination of the day. I didn’t get a single picture of the game! We were having so much fun, I forgot!
We got a Lyft ride to Hale Pele (say hall-ay pay-lay) Tiki Bar! This is a tiny place with all sorts of colored lights, tikis and blowfish, skulls and tapa cloth lamps. They serve food, (but we were still stuffed from brunch), and delicious tropical drinks, some of which get set on fire. It was fun watch to lights change, and watch the bartender mix the drinks, and then drink the drinks….
When we had all we could hold, we called Lyft again and got a ride home, and wished Auntie Bridgett a final Happy Birthday!
What a lovely, weird day this has been. I took another tour of the Lone Fir Cemetery. I know it seems weird to be spending so much time with dead people, but the history of a city can be seen in its old cemeteries. At Lone Fir are buried some of Portland’s heroes, its spiritual guides, and its villains.
Today I learned about Asa Lovejoy, one of the true pioneers of Portland. He and a friend, Francis Pettygrove, were on a canoe trip in 1843 when they stopped for lunch at a clearing on the Willamette River. They liked the spot and decided to stake a land claim and try to start a city here. This claim, after many people and a lot of work, became Portland. But Asa Lovejoy started it. I also learned about Daniel Lownsdale and Fenice Carruther, but I will tell you about them later.
We also learned about Sarah Wisdom. She was a runaway slave from the south and came to Oregon, even though African Americans weren’t very welcome here at the time. She and her first husband, Andrew Johnson, ran a boarding house and other businesses. When he died, she re-married and her second husband, Mr. Wisdom, helped her in her work. She changed the name of her boarding house to “The House of Wisdom”, and they were very successful. They also helped people who were having a hard time. She was the first woman in Oregon to buy her own headstone….she was an independent woman and wanted everyone to know it.
The villain we met on this tour was James Turk. He, his wife and sons were what was called “Shanghai” experts. They would kidnap men, knock them out, and sell them as sailors to a captain who needed a crew for a voyage to China (hence the name Shanghai, the main port there). By the time the men woke up, they were too far out at sea to get home, and they had to work for the rest of the trip. These were not nice people.
After an interesting morning in Lone Fir, I met up with Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett, and we went to the Belmont Street Fair.
This was big like Hawthorne and interesting like Alberta, but with more food than either. We started with lunch at Dick’s restaurant. A delicious milk shake for Grandpa Nelson and turkey burger sliders for Auntie Bridgett and me!
There were so many wonderful bands playing music, people to talk to, and dogs to watch, I can’t possibly tell you about them all. We got home with caramel corn, sticky hands, stickers, and a business card from a local publisher, for when my story is ready.
On the way home, we walked past the flamingo flock, as sure enough, they are up to something new. Apparently they are all working for NASA, because they have their lab coats on, watching the Cassini Space Probe ready to crash into Saturn.
After resting, snacking, and grocery shopping, we were sitting around, and the rain started!!! Blessed, cool, drippy rain! We sat out on the back steps and enjoyed it, watching people out for walks. After our long months here with hot, miserable weather, it is nice to finally be cool. I would even welcome, dare I say it? COLD!
See you next week! I am so excited for your visit!
Last night we took the #20 bus across the Willamette River to an area of Portland called The Pearl. It is the old warehouse district right by the river, and has had years where it was very depressed and grungy. Lately, it has become home to lots of art galleries, and to celebrate that, they do an Art Walk every First Thursday.
Unlike the street fairs on Hawthorne or Alberta, they don’t close the street because The Pearl is right downtown and dozens of buses and light rail trains run through it. But there were a lot of art galleries open late, and most have music playing.
We started the evening off, however, with video games. There is a huge arcade called Ground Control at NW Couch (say Kooch) and 5th Avenue. They have cool old video games like Pac-man and Asteroids, (Auntie Bridgett played some Paperboy) but also my favorite, PINBALL! I played a Hobbit game and Addams Family, and Auntie Bridgett and I played a Simpsons game. We didn’t impress anyone, but we hadn’t intended to…it was just for fun.
Walking in The Pearl at night is odd. It isn’t as bright or noisy as other parts of downtown, and there are blocks where the streets are a bit smelly and dirty. But there are also bits of magic, where light, darkness and color play together just right. A statue caught in the sunset, or street lamps heading up a parkway, or even just overlapping layers of advertising, can be lovely.
We went into several galleries, but, as you know, I don’t take photos of other people’s art in art galleries. But I can tell you, the most beautiful piece I saw all night was called “Carved into Twilight” by an artist named Tom Cramer. It was a circle about 4 feet in diameter, carved in delicate, curving lines, and painted with silver leaf and oil paint. It was like a galaxy unto itself and was hypnotizing. If it hadn’t cost $6,000, I might have brought it home.
Some of the galleries, like J. Pepin, were so crowded you couldn’t even see the art. Others had music that literally chased us out. But most were great fun to walk in, even if we didn’t care for the art. Art People watching is very interesting.
As we were getting worn out with walking, we ran into two places that made us happy we had not quit yet. The Blackfish gallery had watercolors by Robert Dozono that were charming and full of movement. I was able to take a picture of one of them, because it was a huge piece hung in the window, so, to me, counted as public art. Nothing like a cat in a room full of books to win my heart!
Then we found City Home, a store full of all sorts of interesting stuff. Old factory pieces, like these balloon molds, were mixed in with neon signs and new, silly signs, like one for “Camp Run-A-Muck”, which showed a pouncing raccoon and featuring “S’mores Nightly!”. Too silly, really….
Now totally sore and tired, we walked to our usual bus stop across the street from Powell’s Books. It is a busy corner and I enjoyed looking at the lights and traffic, even as my feet were aching. I was grateful when the bus came and I could sit down and just watch the night go by for a while.