The Hoyt Arboretum kept showing us things we didn’t expect.
Coming out of the forest, we saw a grove full of lacy bamboo with something…odd…hanging in it. We headed down stone steps and past a Japanese style gate to where we found this sculpture, called Basket of Air, by Ivan McClean. The sphere is about 6 feet in diameter, and it is suspended over a creek by cables attached to three bamboo poles. The “basket” is made of steel but looks as light as a soap bubble. It was so surprising, I laughed out loud! I want to visit it at other seasons, to see how it looks different.
We headed off to The Holly Loop, where all sorts of holly bushes are growing. From the top of the loop we could see Mt. St. Helens, a volcano only sixty four miles away from Portland. Maybe we will go visit it sometime.
When we had seen all the forest we wanted, we started back down.
But wait! There’s the Veteran’s Memorial! Grandpa Nelson and I hadn’t seen it, but Auntie Bridgett had. She sat down to draw while We walked around.
The memorial is in a large ‘bowl’ in the shape of a spiral, and near the top are plaques remembering the Oregonians who died in the Viet Nam War. The war went from the 1950s to 1973, when Grandpa Nelson and I were growing up. My brother Tim was in the war, and Grandpa Nelson would have been if his draft number had come up. This war always feels more personal than others.
The cold started to creep through our coats and gloves, and the sun on the moss was chillier. We picked up a very shivery Auntie Bridgett and headed home, for sure this time. Tea and hot cocoa, a rest, and then dinner, put us right.
Last night we visited something I hadn’t even known existed: A Night Market. Down on SE 9th and Main, two warehouses and the street between them were closed to traffic and open for business.
Hundreds of vendors of food, wine, spirits, ceramics, jewelry, and handmade gifts of all sorts were packed side by side, filling the space. And filling in the space between the hundreds of booths were thousands of people!
Outside, we enjoyed Pip’s doughnuts, a Chop Chop Chicken Sundae (no ice cream but a very tasty dinner), Greek yogurt, and samples of all sorts of goodies.
Inside, I enjoyed looking at the old fixtures from when the building was a factory of some sort and delighting in the contrast of cast iron and silver balloons. The mezzanine loft also held booths selling paper goods, handbags, and plants of all sorts.
We smelled some lovely perfumes (and a few stinkers) , picked up cards from a few local publishers for future reference, and realized that we had seen all there was to see. It was time to go home.
Yesterday we spent all day, in one way or another, getting ready for Christmas. First thing, Auntie Bridgett and I walked out in 36 degrees F to go shopping. Hawthorne Street, just a bit south of us, has so many wonderful, locally run shops! Asylum, Kids at Heart, Tender Loving Empire, and Memento all have really interesting items that tickle my funny bone. We had a good time choosing special things for our special people.
When the lunch bell in my stomach started going off, we knew it was time to get home. Leftover chicken and cheese made for delicious burritos to keep our spirits up.
Then, the three of us headed off to the big quest of the day: The Christmas tree! Last year, we drove all over town looking for a lot we liked…and finally found a small lot at Belmont and 48th. We went there first this year.
We usually get a Noble Fir, but standing very tall and shaggy, was a Nordman. This was a new type of tree to us, but we liked the height and slightly careless look , so we had the nice fellow tie it to Miles’s roof and took it home.
Our new garage is narrow and pretty full, so it took some real maneuvering to get it in and upstairs…but once installed, it fit perfectly. Grandpa Nelson put up the lights and I brought boxes of ornaments in from the garage, for Sunday’s decorating.
After resting a bit, we wanted to go visit the Open Studio of our friend Nicole Crucio, who makes ceramics. We met her at an Art Show this last summer, when we were headed for Silver Falls. Nicole’s studio is in southeast Portland, in her basement, with a good sized kiln and lots of space. We enjoyed looking at her vases, plaques and paintings.
She shared her show the her friend Jeni Lee, who does wonderful acrylic paintings with raindrops!! These capture the beautifully atmospheric conditions here in the Northwest and feel cool and welcoming.
At Nicole’s, we also met her dog Stevie, who is very sweet and loves to show off her tricks. She does a figure eight between Nicole’s legs, rolls over, and dances. She was fun. We also ate some cookies from the Morsel Code Cookie Company, baked by a lady who wants cookies to taste good but be less bad for you! Amen to that. Very tasty, indeed.
Back home, Auntie Bridgett started the wrapping g of the goodies we had bought on Hawthorne ….coming to you, heading the San Diego for kidlets there, and some staying here in Portland.
One of the many things I love about Portland is that theater and music are everywhere! Last night we took the number 15 to The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall downtown and enjoyed “Swing is the Thing”.
But first, dinner! The Artbar, a pretty restaurant in the same theater complex, fed us not-too-fancy quiches, fries, and nice local wines. As we entered the lobby of the theater, we heard applause coming from the balcony and went to investigate. Two pairs of dancers were jitterbugging to lively swing music, egged on by the well-dressed crowd. We could tell we were in for a good time.
“The Schnitz”, as it is sometimes called, was built in 1928 and has been restored to its historic voluptuousness. Ceiling decoration, lighting, and painted iron railings all let you know you are in a special place. The performance included the entire Oregon Symphony, directed by Jeff Tyzik and, at certain points, the theater took on the feeling of a opulent lecture hall, with Mr. Tyzik explaining the finer points of jazz and swing and how they morphed into early rock and roll.
Mr. Tyzik and the Symphony were assisted by Julie Jo Hughes, a wonderful vocalist, and Dave Bennett, who plays clarinet and does vocals as well as a wicked Jerry Lee Lewis turn on the piano. Dancers Stephen Sayer, Chandrae Roettig, Hunter Krikac and Karine Hermes came on stage every now and then to stun us with gravity-defying moves and light footwork.
The first half of the program was dedicated to swing music, starting with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. There was also an original piece called “Harlem Street Scene”, written by director Tyzik. It had a swingy, jazzy dissonance that was easy on the ears but definitely not boring.
The second half was rock and roll, and not nearly as good as the swing portion. If it were not for Dave Bennett’s crazy acrobatics on the piano, the music selections would have felt disappointingly like a mother-daughter dance.
No, I take that back. A song that was not even listed on the program, Julie Jo Hughes singing Peggy Lee’s “Fever”and taking a turn dancing with Mr. Tyzik as he was conducting, was knock down gorgeous.
When the show was over, we crossed the street to catch the bus back home, along with some other music lovers and a violinist. Another lovely night in Portland!
We finally got to have Auntie Katie and the Cousins over for dinner at OUR house last night. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off, I just really needed to feel I was home…and now I guess I do.
The day started with baking! Auntie Bridgett and I made a peanut butter and oatmeal candy I learned from a mentor teacher about 42 years ago. Her name was Joann, so I call them JoJos. We made them for First Friday at The SideStreet Arts Gallery this evening.
Once they were cooling, we started on tiny cupcakes for dessert with Katie and family. The kitchen sure got messy, with buttermilk flipping onto the counter and powdered sugar making little clouds, but we got them baked, cooled and frosted. The candy eyeballs Grandpa Nelson found at the market last week sure came in handy!
I made pizza dough from a Bobby Flay recipe and had a rest before our guests arrived. We made pizzas, played with Legos, chatted about everything and caught up on Cousin Jasper’s after school program of computer coding.
Cousin Kestrel taught me a game called “Exquisite Corpse”, which is not as gruesome as it sounds. It is a drawing game. You fold a piece of paper into three sections, one above the other. The first player draws the head of a creature, with the neck lines going just slightly below the old. This gives the second player a place to start. Without looking at what the first player drew, the second adds to the creature. This continues with the third player, who adds the legs, or bottom part.
When everyone is done, you open up the paper and see what you have created! Kestrel suggested I write a story for this one. I will try.
When Auntie Katie and the Cousins had to leave (bedtime!) we loaded the dishwasher and melted on the sofa for a while before going to bed.
Auntie Bridgett worked all day at the SideStreet Gallery today, so Grandpa Nelson and I went to the Portland Zoo, taking the number 15 bus and Red Line train. Of course, we have been to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, but going with just grown ups is a whole different experience. We were like our own island of calm in a sea of chatting, fussing, small people.
It was a perfectly Portland fall day, cool and cloudy but not raining. The animals were mostly up and about and, since I had no children to keep track of, I could really enjoy the critters.
On our way to the giraffes, which are Grandpa Nelson’s favorites, we stopped at the Columbus monkey enclosure. There was quite a crowd watching the new baby, sitting on a branch with his mom and learning to handle branches. His balance was precarious and every time the branch shifted, the crowd gasped. After a few minutes the father came over, and the baby became much less adventurous, seeming to keep Momma between himself and Big Dad.
The giraffes were delightful, walking elegantly around their enclosure, or leaning gracefully down for a drink. Grandpa Nelson says he likes them because they are quiet.
Having no children to keep track of, I got to watch everyone else’s. This was a zoo-going experience, too, watching this species of small human interact. I loved seeing the kids play with Jim Gion’s bronze sculpture group called Lunch Break, especially this little guy trying to be a cub.
It was also fun to see older siblings explain things to little brothers and sisters. “See this snake? See how you are red? He can tell you’re not a rock, so he can eat you!” And, on cue, the little brother squeals.
Something I had never seen was an elephant enjoying a swim in the big pool. A keeper was fielding questions and telling us all about elephants, while we watched this giant animal duck and squirt in the water like you do in your bathtub. I imagine it’s about has hard to get him out, too, when it is time!
We noticed that the zoo is already getting ready for Zoo Lights, a wonderful night event held in December where the zoo is open very late and all the trees are lit up, and animals made of neon tubes glow and move. It takes weeks to take the lights down after the holidays, more time to refurbish them, and then another few months to put them all back up. But it is a delightful, if chilly, outing that we will certainly do again this year.
By the afternoon we were worn out and got back home for snacks and naps, because we had a date for the evening, as well. Auntie Katie’s book store, Books with Pictures, was sponsoring a showing of the 1984 movie, “Supergirl”, at the Hollywood Theater. I had never seen it, since in 1984 I was up to my eyeballs raising your Daddy David and Auntie Katie.
It was exciting to see Katie in her element, sharing her love of comics with a theater full of people. The movie wasn’t fabulous, but it did feature three strong female characters: Supergirl, Lucy Lane (Lois’s younger sister) and the villain, Selena, played by Faye Dunaway in all her evil glory. We enjoyed the silly camp and headed home, totally worn out.
For being retired, I am certainly not bored! As my dad always said, “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.”