Yep, it’s been seven months (and a few days) since Dr. Fauci announced the quarantine. Spring and summer have come and gone, and our overnight temperatures are below freezing here in Portland. Winter is heading our way.
Many things have changed, for certain. Shakespeare in the Parks, big band concerts on the grass, and theatrical performances of any kind are a sweet, distant memory. Eating in restaurants, chatting with friendly waiters and total strangers, is now pretty much unthinkable. Cheering for the Pickles or the Thorns would be the height of social irresponsibility.
And travel to Paris? Out of the question. Totally. Big, heavy sigh.
Even going to visit family, sitting on a sofa and playing games with grandkids, just isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
But many things, important things, are still with us. Love, even at a distance, is still love. Watching you decorate a cookie house via ZOOM or walking a corn maze with the cousins is a reminder of who I am and what ties I have in this world. Waking up and having coffee with Auntie Bridgett. Doing crosswords and taking walks with Grandpa Nelson. Watching horror movies and baking shows.
I guess all this is to say that we are still holding on, seven months into the lockdown. We wear our masks and social distance and try to be patient with take-out.
It has been so hot here, and yesterday we had a break…it clouded over, the wind blew, and it rained! Well, enough to make everything smell wonderful and the trees glisten.
In the morning, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to The Music Millennium for their customer appreciation BBQ. It was so delightful. There were free, and very delicious, hot dogs (from The Dog House, on Division Street), potato salad, Voodoo Doughnuts, and soft drinks. The chefs were friendly and funny. There was a “wacky wheel” that you could spin to win things. Auntie Bridgett won a Bob Marley CD and I got a beer cozy.
We enjoyed visiting with people and then went inside to do some shopping. I have never seen the shop so crowded! We found a new jazz cd, two DVDs (Sneakers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) that we had on VHS until they died, and a CD of the original Broadway cast of Fiddler on the Roof. Score!!
We walked home through the park because it was so nice and wet…everything smelled like life and growth and joy.
During the afternoon we worked on stories and art, and cleaning up for Grandpa Nelson who had been visiting YOU! In the evening, while it was still looking like rain, we packed a picnic and walked to Laurelhurst for the annual end of summer Symphony Concert. A group called the Three Legged Torso, a Klezmer group, played with them, and it was delightfully informal, fun, and Portlandish.
Grandpa Nelson arrived in time for the concert and we enjoyed people watching, cookies, chicken, and wine. The final number was Stars and Stripes Forever, conducted by a lady who had never conducted anything before…fortunately, the symphony knew what to do.
Last night was New Year’s Eve and we celebrated in downtown Portland. The weather was very cold, but delightfully dry…no rain, and just a few clouds, so getting around was easy and everything looked bright and festive.
We walked around downtown for a while, looking at shop windows and people walking by. We visited Powell’s City of Books and the Apple Store. Around 5, we got hungry so we stopped off at Case Study Coffee, at SW 10th and Yamhill for snacks. They closed at 6, so we wandered some more, finding the lobby of the Hilton a welcoming place with comfy sofas and friendly people.
By 7 o’clock we were ready for dinner, so we walked over to the Raven and Rose. Located at SE Columbia and Broadway, it is in what used to be the carriage House ( a combination of garage and barn, built in 1883) of William S. Ladd, one of the real movers and shakers of old Portland. The big estate and mansion have been torn down and built over, but this wonderfully restored barn, built in what they call the “Stick” style, has a restaurant downstairs and the Rookery Bar upstairs. It is one hundred and thirty year old, sits in the midst of modern brick and glass towers, and stands out as a jewel from another age.
Our dinner of beet salad, shrimp gnocchi, swede fondant, treacle tart, french fries and ice cream went well with the Pinot Noir and apple cider, and we felt indulged and sated. We chatted about our resolutions for the New Year and our hopes and plans for buying a house in Portland.
Wandering around some more, we stopped in at the ArtBar of the Antoinette Hatfield Hall and looked at a wonderful Steampunk art show. Steampunk art is a style that uses old industrial things like machinery and combines it in new ways with plants and animals. It is weird and spooky and delightful. After some tea and coffee, we headed across the street to the Arlene Schnitzer Theater at SW Park and Salmon for our main event, a concert by Pink Martini and the Portland Symphony.
“The Schnitz”, as it is called by those who love it, was built as the Paramount vaudeville theater in 1924. It must have been the most elaborate thing in Portland in those days, because it still dazzles the eye. The lobby is enormous and ornate, and every inch of stair banister, ceiling, and wall has been carved, painted, or plastered. We spent 20 minutes just walking around the place!
Once the show started, the fun really began. Pink Martini is a talented four person group that plays a delightful international salad of music. Backed by a hundred member choir and symphony, the vocalists sang dance hall tunes in French, popular American tunes in English, Opera arias in Italian, and frenetic rock songs in Japanese. The audience, which had kids as young as 10 and folks well past their 80s, clapped and sang and, when invited, many women joined the band onstage to sing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”.
At midnight we all stood and sang “Auld Lang Syne”, but the show wasn’t over yet.
Full choir, Symphony, jazz band and four operatic soloists joined forces to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in German. It was powerful and wonderful. But it was after midnight, and during some of the quieter moments, I think I might have…dozed off. Just for a moment.
Once the show was over and thousands of happy people filed out of the theater, we caught our Lyft ride home and I was asleep in two minutes.