Sunnyside School Visit

Dear Liza,

Today I walked over to Sunnyside Environmental School for a visit with their wonderful librarian, Gillian Grimm. Gillian had kindly agreed to share what she knows about the history of Sunnyside School and the neighborhood.

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Flamingo Nativity

It is cold and grey out today, but my walk was improved by the latest installation at the Flamingo house: A Nativity scene! The already cheerful pink flamingos were dressed in red. It was adorable.

At Sunnyside, I learned a lot about the school. Although the current building was built in 1925, there has been a school at the corner of Taylor and 34th since at least 1904, and most likely, much earlier. There are photos of students and their teachers posed on the front steps of the old school in 1904, but newspaper real estate advertisements from the 1890s that offer houses in the Sunnyside neighborhood with the inducement “close to good school”.

Gillian also shared with me some trophies that have been awarded to the school over the years. The oldest was from 1908, a tarnished but lovely trophy to Sunnyside School for their entry into the Rose Festival Children’s Parade.

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1904 Rose Parade Trophy

But back to the present: Gillian Grimm became librarian of Sunnyside in 2013. Before that, the position had been filled for ten years with library assistants and clerks, who checked out and maintained the books, but didn’t order new materials, cull old ones, or do any teaching. Gillian had plenty of work to bring the library up to speed and into the new century.

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Winnie the library dog

Gillian runs the library as a welcoming space, decorated by students and featuring squishy chairs for sitting and Winnie, an English Springer Spaniel who welcomes one and all. The students come in before school to check out books for silent reading as well as having regular visits with their classes.

Everything I saw at Sunnyside shows a school where the students are engaged, the teachers and staff excited about what they do, and the parents supportive. I almost wish I was 12 again so I could attend!

But not quite.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Flamingo Thanksgiving

Dear Liza,

Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to share some new things in the neighborhood with you today.

First, the Flamingos are back, but I have to wonder about them. It seems that for their Thanksgiving feast, they have roasted…a Flamingo? I hope when the holiday is over the one laying down gets up, brushes his feathers, and they all go out for brine shrimp. But you never know, with plastic lawn flamingos.

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Odd Flamingo Thanksgiving

Laurelhurst Park keeps changing. I went out in the rain and parts of the park that used to be quiet are now really loud, because the leaves are off the trees, where they provided shelter,  and on the ground, where they act like little drums and echo the rain.

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Laurelhurst Lake

The views are changing, too. You can now see from the top of the hill all the way down to the lake, because the leaves that blocked the view are gone. Dark has become light, green has become orange. I knew there would be changes in seasons, but I am still surprised.

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Tai Chi in Laurelhurst

The only people in the park today were a couple walking their dog and a tai chi class, who were all bundled up but undaunted in their energy and focus.

I am glad to have a nice warm house to come back to after a long cold walk.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Walkin’ in the Sunshine

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Holman Family grave

Dear Liza,

Our fall weather is taking a break this week, reminding us how lovely summer was. Temperatures in the 70s and bright sunshine are warming the pumpkins and fallen leaves.

Yesterday was too pretty to stay inside, so I went walkabout. First I visited the Lone Fir Cemetery, hunting for the grave of my latest subject of interest, Frederick van Voorhees Holman. Since his parents had been pioneers, I looked in the oldest part of the cemetery, and there they were, the whole Holman clan. So now I have solid dates and family members. Check.

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Marquam Bridge

Then I took the #15 just across the Hawthorne Bridge. I wanted to walk along the Willamette River’s West Bank, called South Waterfront. Just south of the Hawthorne Bridge is a green swath of lawn, full of seagulls, geese, and people eating their lunch on the steps. The view across the river was of the very ugly Marquam Bridge and equally lovely Tilikum Crossing Bridge. Beyond both of them in the far distance, was Mt. Hood, shining white against the blue sky.

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Mt. Hood!

Past the Park was a long planted promenade and small boat harbor. It reminded me of all the lovely harbors along the coast of California, but tiny…maybe 50 boats in all, waiting at their docks for someone to come play. Serving this area are a dozen or so very posh shops. A restaurant called Three Degrees, a few bars and restaurants with outside seating, art galleries and even an Umpqua Ice Cream shop.

Further along was Poet’s Beach, an actual sandy beach you can walk down to and put your feet in the water, if you want to. Along the path were poems of young children carved into rocks. It was lovely. Standing directly under the double-decker freeway that is the Marquam Bridge, I remembered the evening that Auntie Bridgett and I drove over that bridge into Portland. We were strangers here then, lost in a new place. Now I feel so at home I give directions to lost tourists.

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Student Poetry carved in stone

Just under the Marquam Bridge I ran into construction, with fences, noise and people in hard hats, and decided I had walked enough. Crossing Third Street to get to my bus stop, I passed Lownsdale Square and the memorial erected to honor the soldiers of the Second Oregon Regiment, a group of men from Oregon who fought in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. Just across that street is the historic Multnomah County Courthouse, a lovely old building that has been overgrown by the newer buildings around it.

I got home on the #15, walked through Lone Fir again, and had a rest and dinner. Since it was so warm and pleasant, we all walked out again. The flamingos are back! They were gone after the Cubs lost the pennant, probably feeling very sad. But they are dressed up for Halloween and seem to be all better. Welcome back, Flamingos!

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Halloween Flamingos!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Gearing up for Halloween!

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Swingin’ skeletons

Dear Liza,

I am sure you have been figuring out what your costume should be for Halloween. We are, too. Maybe we should be minions, Lucy and Gru? Or our very own Superheros? But while we are figuring that out, remembering some of our costumes in years past cracks me up, too!

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That year we visited Neverland

 

Many of the houses in Portland have wonderfully large porches, which turn into stages for decorating! There are spider webs with bits of leftovers, ghouls and witches, all hanging around in relative safety from whatever rains come our way.

So, while we are out getting to know more streets and houses, looking for the perfect one to buy (once things get settled) we are noticing all the decorations.

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Ghosty guests

But I also have some sad news. Remember the flock of flamingos who are always up to something? They watched the solar eclipse with special flamingo sized glasses and helped the Cassinni space probe crash into Saturn. As it turns out, they are also big into baseball,  are fans of the come-back Chicago Cubs, and someone doesn’t like it. One evening the flock was out celebrating the Cubs’ victory, and the next evening, two flamingos were gone. Who would do such a terrible thing? Rabid National fans? Or are they just out for the fabulous flamingo fortune?

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Help! Kidnapped  flamingo!

I hope to have better news soon.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Weird Day: Cemetery, Street Fair, and Rain!

Dear Liza,

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.

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Tombstone for Asa Lovejoy

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.

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Grave of a kidnapper

After an interesting morning in Lone Fir, I met up with Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett, and we went to the Belmont Street Fair.

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Yes, it’s a real thing….

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!

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Beautiful dogs!

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.

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Flamingos at work for NASA

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!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

Hawthorne Street Fair

Dear Liza,

As if our weekend wasn’t full enough with our new car, Sunday was the Hawthorne Street Fair.  They close the street for 10 blocks and all sorts of folks set up tents to share their ideas and talents, and sell their things.

Auntie Bridgett spent the morning at a drawing “meet up” at the Portland Museum of Art, where artists look at art, draw about it, and talk about it. So Grandpa Nelson and I did the first part of the Fair by ourselves. First, we stopped at the Bazi Bierbrasserie because Grandpa Nelson had heard about their french fries and wanted to try them out. They and my “velgi” burger were very good, and the cider and beer were light and cold, just what was needed on a hot day. Outside the brasserie was a “Human Foosball” game, where four guys….well, you get the idea. Have a look at the picture.

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Human Foosball

Out on the street, there were food booths selling Cajun, Hawaiian, Lebanese, Mexican, Filipino, and American food. Pork, beef, chicken, tofu, if it could be fried, spiced and wrapped in something, it was for sale. It all smelled so yummy! There were also Gelato carts, shave ice trucks, and tents just giving away free cold water to anyone who needed it. These were all very popular.

There were political action booths, asking people to sign petitions, buy t-shirts, or volunteer to save the planet, the country, the forests and just about anything else you can think of. These were interesting but a little dangerous, because if you asked the folks about their cause they were so passionate, it was hard to walk away!

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Auntie Bridgett playing a cigar box guitar

Auntie Bridgett joined us as the day was getting really warm. There were booths selling music! Old vinyl records by the box load called to us, but since we gave away our old turntable when we moved, we didn’t stop. A fellow named Sonny was selling guitars and ukeleles that he built from beautiful cigar boxes, and Auntie Bridgett gave them a try.

Musicians of every age were sitting, standing, or dancing, and playing music with their boxes set out for donations. The youngest were about 13, two girls playing ukeleles behind a sign that said “Tip the musicians (but don’t knock them over)”.

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Young musicians

Auntie Bridgett hadn’t had lunch and we were all ready to fall over from the heat (we are not used to 98 degrees!) so we stopped in at the lovely and air conditioned Chez Machin. This french style creperie is friendly, small, and serves both savory and sweet crepes and drinks. The sit-down, cool air, and food were exactly what was needed.

After looking at hats from Ray’s Classic Collection shop and some vintage clothing, we decided it was time to head home. We all had some downtime, read, or napped. In the evening was the final performance of the summer “Music in the Parks” program, so we walked to Laurelhurst Park with our dinner and listened to the Providence band play jazz, big band music, and even some disco. People danced, kids played, and the sun went down. It was lovely.

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Back to School Flamingos

On the way home, we saw that the flamingos had changed again! They were apparently home from their camping trip and were ready to go back to school! This running story played out on a lawn just cracks me up, and it is so ….Portland.

Silly, artistic, not fancy, but fun.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Walking, Walking by the River….

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett wanted to get out during the day and write for her comic strip, so we set off to find a new coffee shop. We walked down Burnside past Heart and Grendel’s, and settled in at Ristoretto on Couch for some pastries, chai and coffee.

After an hour of relaxing, reading, writing and listening to some pretty weird music, we headed off again. We walked past some very interesting new buildings, like “The Fair-Haired Dumbbell”, and I realized we were only five blocks from the Willamette River. We had been talking about making time to walk along the river, so we did!

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Fair-Haired Dumbbell

But you simply can’t start a major adventure on just coffee and a hand pie. Wandering down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (we call it MLK) we found the Sheridan Fruit Company. It is SO much more than fruit! They make sausages, cheeses, have a food truck, and a whole grocery store that has been there since 1906! The whole place smells fabulous. We shared the Seafood Creole Special of spicy shrimp, sausage, polenta and veggies and felt properly fortified for our journey.

 

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Sheridan Fruit Co., since 1906!

There is a huge freeway that runs between the east part of Portland and the River,  but with Googlemaps and patience, we followed bridges over freeways and under bridges and found the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. It is named for a woman who was mayor of Portland and in the Oregon government for years, and this wonderful path follows the Willamette River for one and a half miles.

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Vera Katz Statue Photo credit mygola.com

Along this path are water fountains, bubblers, benches, sculpture, trees, and even floating public docks to sit on and even jump into the river from, if you like. A few fellows did, and it looked like fun, but we didn’t…wet and drippy are not a good way to walk around town.

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Auntie Bridgett, me, the Hawthorne Bridge, and the Willamette River

We walked to the south end, just under the Hawthorne Bridge, and then north to the Burnside Bridge, up a long flight of steps, and turned east towards home. It had gotten warm and we were pooped. We walked up Ash Street and realized we had walked six miles! No wonder we were tired!

We sat on the couch, drank lots of water, and both fell asleep. After dinner, when it was cooler, Grandpa Nelson joined us and we…..walked some more! Just through Laurelhurst Park this time, not even a whole mile, but the breeze was cool and dogs and kids were playing in the park. It was worth it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

PS The flamingos are celebrating a birthday AND the eclipse! Check out this picture!

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Flamingo birthday/eclipse party