The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House

Dear Liza,

The other night we took a long walk after dinner. Auntie Bridgett had read about a restaurant called The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House that is about a mile from our house, at 12th Avenue and Alder. It was quirky, she said, and possibly haunted, and we should go there.

So we did. We walked due west, right into the setting sun, and by the time we got to the restaurant, we were sun-blind and exhausted.  From where we stood on the sidewalk, there was no sign that the building was a restaurant, or even occupied. The faded rose Victorian exterior looked like one of the hundreds of great houses in Portland that have gotten tired over the years. The lawn was weedy and the willow tree a bit overgrown. At 6:57, it was as if no one had been up the stairs in years. At 7:00, a small “Open” sign came on and people began walking up the street towards it.

We entered the cluttered, underlit foyer, our eyes and glasses still adjusting from the bright afternoon outside. “Take a menu” a sign said, so we did, and wandered into the living room. Small tables and chairs filled the space, where a piano sat in the corner and all sorts of knick-knacks perched on shelves.

The number 36 dangled from the ceiling and was spelled out in roman numerals made from yard sticks. Auntie Bridgett remembered that the restaurant had been started in 1980, so was 36 last year. It is as old as your daddy. The whole place was lit with fairy lights.

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Auntie Bridgett and “36”

We sat and listened to the Romantic piano music of Rimsky-Korsakoff lilting through the small rooms, reading the hand-written signs. “Warning to customers: This is the OUT door” said a sign on the door to the kitchen. “This table for 2 people only” was the sign on our table. We were three, but no one seemed to mind. Quirky, indeed.

Our waitress took our order and we shared the most delicious ginger cake I have ever had. The cinnamon coffee was rich and sweet, and Grandpa Nelson’s ice cream sundae was wonderfully cold and fluffy. Having enjoyed our dessert and coffee and recovered completely from our walk, we paid our bill and got up to leave.

We saw what we hadn’t before, the stairs up to the restroom, over which hung a swing of sorts. On the bottom (the side towards us) was another hand written sign: “Everyone Enjoy Engaging in Eating, Entertainment, Escape, Enlightenment, Euphony, Elsewise, Exit!” We had seen no signs of haunting, but it was early yet. Maybe the spirits wake up later.

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Orders from above

We had a conversation with the baker before we left, complimenting him on his ginger cake and getting the recipe, which he rattled off from memory. “But don’t quote me,” he said. “I make a lot of cakes.” I don’t remember it, but I will have fun trying to duplicate it, once the weather cools off enough to bake.

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