Art and Poke

Dear Liza,

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Park Blocks

Sunday was predicted to be another hot day, getting up to 96 degrees. I had gotten some good ideas about my story and wanted a new place to write, and Auntie Bridgett was heading off to the Portland Art Museum on the number 15 bus for her monthly ‘Drink and Draw’ meet up. (On a Sunday morning, the ‘drink’ is coffee).  I invited myself along. Walking up the Park Blocks, we met Jake, a writer who Bridgett met last summer in  this same spot, who is working on a story called “Book of Miracles” about touring with the Grateful Dead. We talked about writer’s block and wished each other well.

Writing in the Art Museum is always good. I am surrounded by wonderful creations made straight out of someone’s head, giving me confidence that more wonderful creations can come out of my own.

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Diebenkorn

Once in the museum, we split up. I found a comfy bench in front of the Proctor statue called Indian on Horseback, where it was very quiet and good for writing. My characters are coming to life and I am enjoying them so much! Whether it’s the art or just Writer’s Block disappearing, I am glad for it.

As people came in, kids started being just a bit too noisy for my taste, so I moved over to the Diebenkorn exhibit, where it was still quiet. I met Linda and Paula, two ladies who are in the Drink and Draw, and we chatted. When the drawing part was over, we all moved to the coffee shop, where the artists talked and I started looking up what children’s books were popular in 1903.

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Snacks!
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Proctor Statue

At lunchtime, we wanted to try something new. We wandered just a block down Park and went into Shigezo, a wonderful Japanese restaurant. We enjoyed poke (say po-kay), seaweed salad, delicious grilled pork belly, and some disappointing potatoes. But a small flask of sake (say sah-kay), smelling like bread and warming as it went down, made everything better.

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Yummy Poke

After lunch, Bridgett wanted to head back to the museum to buy the exhibit book on Diebenkorn. The heat was kicking in, and it was 85 degrees, even in the shade. We caught the bus and were glad to be home. By dinnertime, it was 96 degrees, only dropping to 90 by 8:00. Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk in the park, seeing the new handrails by moonlight and a lot of folks who came out to enjoy the “Silent Disco” (using wifi headphones for music) and the relative cool of the evening.

Back at the house, we played Scrabble, and I was having a great game! I was ahead…right up until the end, when Grandpa Nelson caught me, passed me, and ate my lunch. Fun, anyway.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Goose Hollow and Beyond

Dear Liza,

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Getting Around on MAX

My friend Terry Soria is in town! She is visiting her daughter and son-in-law, and she made time to have brunch with me. Her family lives way over on the northwest edge of Portland.

I knew it would be a long trip, so I started early. I caught the number 15 bus at 7:30 and rode up to Providence Park in Goose Hollow. Then I got onto the red line train (blue would have worked as well) and rode through the mountain, past the Washington Park station in the tunnel, to the Sunset transit center. This is where my plans hit a snag. I had planned my trip using the Weekday schedule, and I was traveling on Saturday. The commuter bus, the number 62, runs less often and was going to make me very late to meet Terry and her family.

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Terry and the BEST Coffee!

Sweet people that they are, they came to the transit center and fetched me! We drove to Grand Central Bakery, on NW Cornell, and had a wonderful second breakfast of croissants, coffee, and sandwiches. We chatted about how our family’s are, how work is, and how fabulous Portland is. They told me of their visits to the Columbia locks, Multnomah Falls, and the Microbrewery festival. Yum!

And they had another full day planned, an exciting jet boat ride on the Willamette from Portland all the way upriver to Oregon City! So they drove me back to the transit center where I caught the train, along with a dozen happy Japanese tourists heading to the zoo.

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Art at Lincoln High School

I have always wanted to see the area of town called Goose Hollow, so I got off the train there and walked. None of the shops were open yet, but I got to see the new construction at Providence Park. Situated just at the foot of the west Portland hills, this has been the main athletic field in town since the late 1800s. It was originally called Multnomah Field, and is where the Portland Timbers soccer team plays. I also enjoyed the mosaic and painted tile artwork along the walls of the Lincoln High School field.

This area is called Goose Hollow because, as the story goes, housewives in the 1800s would let their geese into the grassy area to eat and grow nice and fat before selling them. Apparently it would be quite a sight to see a few dozen geese strutting through field and road, stopping traffic when they pleased. These tall, proud geese are memorialized in a delightfully cocky bronze goose standing on the train platform.

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Cool Goose, Dude

Ready to head home, I walked down to Salmon and caught the number 15, finally taking a picture of the salmon coming through the building. In the evening we got to have some more fun, but I will tell you about that tomorrow!

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Giant Salmon in a Building

Return to Cascadia Circus

Dear Liza,

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Carrot and Foxglove the Clowns

Since it is summer, you went horse camp and Cousins Jasper and Kestrel went to Circus Camp! Friday, I took the number 15 east to Taborspace to see their show under the “little” big top. This is the only tented circus in Oregon, and even though the tent is small-ish, it lends shade and a real special atmosphere to the show.

Like last year, the kids spent a week learning how to balance, walk on stilts, work as teams to do tricks, and be confident in front of an audience. They are older and more experienced, and I was more impressed than ever.

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Ringmaster Paul

The Cascadia Circus is a non-profit group run by Paul, Ringmaster, jokester and independent operator. His British accent and clownish ways make everyone feel comfortable doing new things. Jasper made up his clown name of Carrot, and Kestrel was Foxglove.

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Juggling scarves

They juggled scarves and rings, walked on tight ropes (18 inches off the ground while holding Paul’s hand), balanced on balls and did gymnastic poses. It was delightful! I hope they go to Circus Camp next year, so I can see another show!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Confident on stilts!

Rose Show Plus

Dear Liza,

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Roses in a yard on the way to the Rose Show

This is a mostly happy post, but fair warning for the next paragraph. It is sad but true. Yesterday was my very first Portland Rose Show. I took the number 70 bus up Cesar Chavez Boulevard  and changed to the Red Line train to Lloyd Center. The whole trip took about 30 minutes.

At the train station, some artists were painting a memorial mural to two men who died at that station last year. Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were killed after they defended two young women who were being verbally attacked by a man named Jeremy Christian. Mr. Christian stabbed and killed the men, and is now in jail waiting for his trial. The train station mural is bright and beautiful, with quotes from the young women and their defenders and expressions of solidarity.

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Part of the Memorial Mural at Hollywood MAX Station

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At Holladay Park I got off the train and enjoyed the shady trees, fountain and statues, then crossed the street into the Lloyd Center Mall. This is a bright, open space on three levels, with huge skylights and even a year-round  ice rink! This is where Tonya Harding practiced when she was getting ready for the National Ice Skating Championships and the 1994 Olympics.

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Skater doing his thing

Inside the mall, it didn’t take long to find the Rose Show. It ran the length of the second level, on at least 60 long tables filed with single specimens in tall vases of huge floribundas, tiny miniatures, and mixed bouquets.

There were styles of display I had never seen, like “Floral Portrait” (a single perfect rose pinned to black velvet in a gold frame) and “Floral Palette” (a set of five roses displayed light to dark, left to right).

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Floral Portrait
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Kathy Kromm of The Portland Rose Society

There were a few creative arrangements, but the emphasis here is clearly on growing beautiful roses rather than decorating with them.

I asked Kathy Kromm of the Rose Society why I didn’t see any specimens of Mlle Caroline Testout, the rose that started it all back at the turn of the century? “It’s not much of a rose,” she answered sheepishly. “We can grow better roses now, with more disease resistance.”

Walking around the displays a third time, I noticed that there were many “old” roses, labeled Old Garden or Victorian roses. Most of them had small blooms but were intensely colored and had interesting foliage, like Moss Roses with their dark green, fuzzy-spiky sepals. I can see where Mlle Caroline Testout, which has a large round bloom in a bright pink, would have captured rose enthusiasts’ imaginations at the turn of the 20th century.

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Crested Moss Rose, developed in 1827

But I know I can find Mlle Caroline Testout in the East Rose Garden in Ladd’s Addition, about two blocks from Auntie Katie’s house, so I didn’t worry.

When I had smelled and seen all I could, I caught the train and bus back home and had a rest before meeting Auntie Katie for snacks at the Nerd Out. I like being close enough for visits! I will enjoy having adventures with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, and I will tell you all about them.

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Hot Cocoa

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Shakespeare and Nachos

Dear Liza,

Last night Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I got all bundled up and took the #20 further than we ever have, all the way to Northeast 17th and Burnside. Then we walked north to Glisan, where we found the Mission Theater, an Evangenical Mission Church that has been  renovated and turned into a restaurant and movie and live theater by McMenamin’s. This is the same company that has saved the Kennedy School, Edgefield Poor Farm, and many other beautiful old buildings here in Portland by turning them into venues that people want to visit.

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Foyer of Mission Theater

As a restaurant, the selection is limited but tasty: Nachos, hummus plates, and pizza. The wine, ale, and beer selections are good. The theater itself is well done, with curving balconies and old posters and programs on the wall, but the bathrooms are very dark. The stage isn’t big or fancy, since it is usually used for movies.

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Balcony

The performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest was by OPS, The Original Practice Shakespeare Company. We saw them do Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It in Laurelhurst Park this past summer. Each actor only learns their own part, and carries a scroll with them. Since every performance is about half improvisation, the performances are unpredictable.

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Shipwrecked Lords and Ladies

Last night was a mixed bag. The woman playing Prospero the Wizard was good and very gentle, which is unusual for that role. The woman playing Caliban was a very sympathetic monster. Some of the shipwrecked lords were quite screechy, but the story was well-told and pretty easy to understand.

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Caliban the monster leading the Lords into trouble

One thing I really like about OPS is the audience participation. When Prospero is describing how she was exiled to the island, the audience groaned in sympathy, and she looked out at us and said, “I know, lousy, right?” We got to boo and cheer and some folks even helped hold Miranda’s drawings up so the audience could see them. It is fun to be part of the show.

When Prosero had broken her staff and given up magic to return to Milan, we gathered our things and walked back down to the bus stop.What a lovely evening.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Chilly Morning

Dear Liza,

It is cold this morning, just 40 degrees, and the wind is blowing. The three tall Fir trees across the way are swaying like the Andrews sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and waves of yellow leaves keep washing past our windows.

Mousekin the cat thinks she wants to go outside. She looks expectantly at the doorknob, but as soon as the cold hits her nose she looks offended, as if to say,”I didn’t order that.” So she naps on the rocking chair or lays in wait on the stairs.

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Pigeons holding on

I will be taking the #15 downtown today to do some more research into Portland history. Today I am looking for information on what schools were open in 1903, the first year Teddy Roosevelt visited the city. I will be sure to bundle up!

I hope you stay warm and have fun.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Halloweening

Dear Liza,

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Spooky crows at sunset

Things are really getting ready for Halloween up here! People are decorating their lawns and porches with graveyards, skeletons and big spiders. It is a nice blend of creepy and friendly….Not “Come get scared”, but “Come get scary with us!” The yards look good during the day, and I look forward to walking out after dark to see how they are lit up.

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Front yard grave yard
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Mr. and Mrs. James Stephens, who owned the cemetery first

Besides neighborhoods pretending to be graveyards, there is our actual graveyard, The Lone Fir Cemetery. They gave a delightful, strictly once a year after dark tour, called The Tour of Untimely Departures. A group of volunteers called The Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery put luminarias along the main roads of the cemetery and guide groups through, with people playing the deceased and telling us their stories of life and dead.

No one jumps out or tries to scare you, but the stories all ended badly, or they wouldn’t be on the tour….Untimely departures, in this case, means they died before their time.

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Professor Van Allsburg

After visiting the dead folks at Lone Fir, we came home and got dressed up for a Halloween Party given by our friends, Jack and Verity. We were all professors: Grandpa Nelson was The Idea Guy, Doctor of Smartness; Auntie Bridgett was Dr. I.E. Plinth, history of art, from Slug University; I was Dr. Beverly Pilkey Van Allsburg, Professor of Kid Lit. At the party we met Beetlejuice, Arthur Dent and a random alien lady, Pocilanus Rex, demon pig god, and many more characters. It was great fun and we stayed very late.

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Idea Guy

The next day we slept in because of our late night. But when I was ready to face the world, Auntie Katie called and suggested we meet at Mt. Tabor and go for a walk in the woods there. I took at #15 east and got off at exactly the opposite end of the park, so I had a good long walk before we got together, but the forest was so beautiful, I didn’t mind.

 

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Dr. Plinth

When we met up we had a snack picnic under a laurel tree, found a drained reservoir and practiced our echos, and gathered rose hips and lemon balm for making tea. Then it was time to head home. We met up with Grandpa Nelson at Fifty Licks Ice Cream for a treat, then got home to watch the Astros win a game of the world series with a bunch of home runs.

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Cousins in the woods!

What a weekend!

Love,

Grandma Judy