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

Sunny Rain, Rainbows, and Teddy

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Fall roses!

Dear Liza,

Today was a busy day. I was reading old newspapers online from the Oregon Historical Society, trying to find any story about Mrs. Pittock and her rose party. (So far, nothing…)

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Lovely fall colors

I got a call from Uncle Dave to see if I could come over and get instructions on how to feed their cats, Pietro and Wanda, while they are all in Hawaii for a few days, so I jogged the mile or so to their house, noticing the beautiful leaves, nuts, roses, and such, but in a hurry. So on the way home, I slowed down and got some pictures.

Even in fall, with the cold and rain, tomatoes are still ripening and roses are still blooming. The ground smells so sweet it is intoxicating. I collected another giant pocketful of chestnuts! We saw a wonderful rainbow and met some neighbors, Sarah and Elizabeth, who live up the block.

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Rainbow in the neighborhood

Back home, it was time for our big adventure for the evening. We walked up to Burnside and caught the #20 into town. Getting off at Powell’s City of Books, we were in the middle of the biggest downpour I’ve ever walked through, but we slogged a block up to Kenny and Zukes for dinner. Knishes, hot dogs, and french fries, all delicious. For something different, Auntie Bridgett had a ginger beer with horseradish infused vodka! Totally nuts, but so good!

The rain completely stopped as we ate, which was good, because we needed to walk up to The First Congregational Church on Park to enjoy An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt. This is a one man show by Jim Wiegand, a performer and historian who seems not just to DO Teddy, but to BE Teddy.

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Interior of the First Congregational Church

Mr. Wiegand was funny and true, historically correct but also delightfully current in his comments. He told of his life before, during and after his presidency, his travels, war experiences, and personal tragedies. His main message is that it is not enough to read the Word, and hear the Word, but you must ACT on the Word. Get off your duff and DO something to make the world better.

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Program for the show

He finished his show by asking the audience to all stand and sing “Good Bless America”. We all did, and we all felt better for it; for just a few minutes, we forgot the nonsense in our government and remembered that we love our country.

The bus ride home was dry but cold, and we were happy to be home.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Oregon Historical Society

Dear Liza,

Our weather keeps getting hotter! So Grandpa Nelson, The Idea Guy, made plans.  Just after lunch, we walked out into the already horrible heat to catch the #15 bus. On the air conditioned bus, we rode in happy relief towards downtown. We noticed that the bus goes directly past the Post Office on 7th Street…which will be good to know when Auntie Bridgett needs to mail her zines or I want to send you something.

We got off at the Oregon Historical Society, which is just across the Park Blocks from the Portland Art Museum. Grandpa Nelson was very interested in the “High Hopes” exhibit about President John Kennedy. There were many fun artifacts to see, like John’s report card from The Choate School, where he got a C- in public speaking, and a letter from young John to his father, asking for a raise in his allowance and giving reasons why it was needed.

But what I loved most were the speeches he gave, proving that his weakness in public speaking class was overcome with help and practice. His Inauguration speech, made on the first day he became President, still gives me goosebumps. He was so optimistic about what our country could do for ourselves and for the world. So many of his ideas were proven right, but only after he had died. We needed to sit down for a while, to think about President Kennedy, our country, and what we believe in.

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President John Kennedy

On the second floor we found an exhibit of Oregon history from the time of the Native Americans to now. A Native American story was written down by Ella Clark: “The Earth was once a human being, made by the creator to be a mother to her people. Her soil is flesh, the rocks are her bones, the wind is her breath, the trees and grass are her hair.” Sometimes when I walk in the park here, or by the ocean, I feel that loving mother-ness from the earth. That connection to the earth helps us feel whole, I think.

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State seal of Oregon. The motto is in Latin

We learned about all the things that Oregon has chosen as its symbols. These are to recognize what is special about the state. Oregon’s state motto is “She flies on her own wings”. I like this so much! The female image for the state, the freedom of wings and personal ownership, all tell of strength, independence, and freedom. As if Oregon were a strong, lovely fairy.

There are lots of other symbols, so I will make a small list here:

State bird: Western Meadowlark

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Western Meadowlark               Photo credit:enwikipedia.org

State flower: Oregon Grape (I know it sounds like a fruit, but it is also a flower)

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State fruit: Pears

State drink: Milk

State butterfly: Oregon Swallowtail

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Oregon Swallowtail                                     Photo credit :Fred Bentler

State animal: Beaver

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            Beaver                                                    Photo credit: globe-views.com

 

State tree: Douglas fir

When we had looked, talked, read and thought all we could about history, we had a snack and caught the streetcar up to Powell’s Bookstore, on SW 10th and Couch, to browse. There are so many wonderful books. I always learn something new or remember something I had forgotten.

For our last fun activity downtown, we walked to the (Air Conditioned) Living Room Theater at SW 10th and Stark. At this movie theater, you can order sandwiches or pizza, as well as beer, wine or soda, and they bring you the food at your seat before the movie starts. Each theater only holds about 30 people, but the chairs are comfortable.

We watched a funny French movie called “Lost in Paris”. It had subtitles but I enjoyed understanding some of the French, as well. It is not a kid’s movie, but we three adults enjoyed it very much.

We took the #20 back home and got Grandpa Nelson a milk shake at Fifty Licks, a very popular ice cream parlor right at the bus stop on Burnside, and just a few blocks from our house.

We rested and wrote in the cool basement until we got sleepy enough to go to bed. It was still hotter than most days in Salinas at 11:30 at night. And tomorrow is predicted to be even warmer! Oy and vey.

Love, Grandma Judy