As you may know, there is a trial going on in the Senate to decide whether President Trump should be removed from his office. The Democrats have argued that using the influence of the most powerful position in the world to force a weaker country to do your political bidding is wrong. The Republicans disagree.
There are a lot of negative feelings about it. We worry about how our country is seen in the world and how this may change how we are governed. Grandpa Nelson decided that the remedy for this worry was a nice, long walk to The Bipartisan Cafe. There was a solid rain coming down, but no wind, and about 50 degrees…. pleasant for this time of year. So I said, “Sure!”
We walked East on Belmont, past lovely old house that is being restored, and up onto the shoulder of Mt. Tabor.
I was thinking about how homeowners living here must battle to keep their houses secure against the elements when I saw this, a garage that is almost completely hidden by ivy. I guess sometimes, the battle is lost.
Further up the hill, we found this delightful mosaic covered tiny library! The roof, glass door and tile exterior make it beautiful and weather proof. It was a joy to see.
When we had worked up a bit of a sweat inside our coats, we reached to top of Belmont Street. There was the paved road down, or an “unimproved road”… guess which we took?
Yep. It was a bit muddy, but delightfully rustic. Tall trees and shrubs leaned over picnic tables and little yards. This would be heaven in the summer.
We headed down the East face of the Mountain into the quaint neighborhood of Montavilla. It used to be called “Mount Tabor Village”, but the name was too long to fit on the streetcars. They shortened it, and the name stuck.
Enjoying the window displays (gnomes!), we finally arrived at our destination, three miles from home. We were damp but victorious. And there was pie!
The Bipartisan Cafe is decorated with old political posters, from John Tyler’s presidential run to John Kennedy’s campaign in the 1960s. It is funky, comfy, delicious, and feels very much like home. It was busy, but we were able to find a small couch all to ourselves, and enjoyed tea and pie.
As we sat there, we realized that our feet were chilly, that it was still raining, and that it was another three miles back home.
it is still rainy here in Portland. If it isn’t raining at any given minute, it has just stopped or will soon start. Such is winter here.
The neighborhood is full of things to see…like this tiny frozen pond up on Ankeny.
We get out every day for a walk. But these aren’t the five mile leisurely strolls of summer. Yesterday I put on four layers plus a coat, gloves and fuzzy hat to walk to the market. Grandpa Nelson bundled up to get a haircut. Auntie Bridgett shivered to and from the gallery.
But I keep busy. I am falling back in love with my story. I am making Gingernuts from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible for a brunch at the SideStreet Arts Gallery.
And yesterday I played a Scrabble game all by myself. Not a regular game, but one where I set out to make a pattern on the board. It was inspired by our accidental, real-game situation where we used only HALF the board. “What other patterns could I make?” I asked.
Each turn is a legal turn and the words are all real words. I had to shift a few letters, but otherwise played by the rules. And I got this .
One of the unexpected benefits of being sick is feeling like a child again. Since I don’t have to be at work, I can let myself be taken care of, be a little bored, and allow my mind to wander.
Yesterday Auntie Bridgett made lunch and served it to me on the couch. It was a combination of two leftovers, (kale salad and roasted chicken) and it was delicious, warm and spicy. What made it even more special was the serving tray.
I bought this tray years ago at Disneyland. Your Daddy David and Auntie Katie were too old for it, but it was so charming and sweet that I bought it for ME.
And of course, seeing Winnie the Pooh when it is all rainy outside means I have had the Rain Song from Winnie the Pooh tripping through my head.
If you don’t know it, go to YouTube or ask Alexa to sing it to you. It was written by the Disney team of Richard and Robert Sherman, and here are the lyrics:
The rain rain rain came down down down In rushing, rising riv’lets, ‘Til the river crept out of its bed And crept right into Piglet’s! Poor Piglet, he was frightened with quite a rightful fright. And so, in desperation a message he did write.
(H-h-help! Piglet. (Me)
He placed it in a bottle and it floated out of sight. And the rain rain rain came down down down so Piglet started bailing. He was unaware, atop his chair, while bailing he was sailing! And the rain rain rain came down down down and the flood rose up up upper. Pooh, too, was caught and so he thought, “I must rescue my supper!” Ten honey pots he rescued, enough to see him through, But as he sopped up his supper, The river sopped up Pooh! And the water twirled and tossed him In a honey pot canoe! The rain rain rain came down down down…
I am so happy to be back in Portland after our trip to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, all the water is pumped in and does what it is told. Fountains. Swimming pools. A tiny green oasis here and there.
But in Portland, the water comes of its own accord, from the rains and rivers, wandering about with its own agenda. It is planned for, accommodated, and appreciated.
Our Firwood Lake in Laurelhurst Park is a natural low spot in the park, and catches all the water that falls in our lovely, hundred year old forest. The Park planners were wise enough to use the environment rather than fight it, to make the lake a focal point and ecosystem instead of a muddy ball field.
The leaves are still falling, but the trees are running out. The small building in Laurelhurst Park, which houses the bathrooms and maintenance office, is graced by the nearby gingko tree.
In the neighborhood, Christmas is going up in eccentric ways. This Japanese maple tree’s leaves haven’t been raked in two years…but it has lights.
This majestic house, which we can see across Cesar Chavez Boulevard through the now-bare trees, has very conservative decorations, which seems suitable to its old fashioned style.
Today I took a walk through the neighborhood, on my to Collage. This arts and crafts shop is about a mile away, on Division Street, but is the closest place where I can buy embroidery thread. Besides, I love seeing how the neighborhood changes every day.
Rain was predicted, but, as my Momma used to say, I’m not made of sugar.
Today I met a fellow taking a picture of this persimmon tree. The tree has no leaves at all, but is full of persimmons, just too high to reach!
Along the way I noticed the retaining walls. Most old houses in Portland have basements, so the house sits above the street. The yard is made flat by these walls, which can show a lot of characters. Some are just mossy, but others have decorations or are practically their own gardens.
There was also this pile of mulch, leftover from someone who bought too much. The sign says: “OMG! Please Take Some!”
Collage didn’t have any of the color embroidery floss I was after, but Henry, the manager, took his time matching the color to his online order form, and it will be in next week so I can finish my project.
When I got home, this shadow of Mouse was on the wall of the landing….
We are now getting into the part of Fall that is damp and grey. If it is isn’t raining at any given moment, it has recently stopped or will begin again soon. When we were thinking of moving to Portland, this is one thing I worried about….as a former Southern California beach girl and Salinas resident, how would I do in a fairly constant situation of damp?
So far, it suits me right down to the ground. Granted, I am not working, so I don’t have damp students or muddy shoes to deal with, and we have a cozy warm house that keeps the chill away.
But even outside, there is so much life and beauty that it’s hard to be too fussy about it. At Laurelhurst Park there are mushrooms that spring like fairy lamp posts from the mud, and leaves that sparkle on the dark paths.
We have even found a sweet chestnut tree! We have named it Leila, after my aunt who had eleven children, because she is so prolific. Yesterday evening, when it was nearly dark, we foraged about eight pounds of chestnuts.
Walking through Ladd’s Addition, where Auntie Katie lives, is a joy, as well. The old trees and shady yards feel like a forest, with moss, ferns and earth that smells alive and happy. When the clouds part for a minute, the sunshine is so glorious that people stop and smile.
Meanwhile, inside, there is quilting and reading, split pea soup with bacon and Halloween monster movies.
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.
It is a new year, and I am looking forward to some more big changes. I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a few months while I teach, and my life here in Portland will be put on hold. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett will stay here and take care of Mouse the kitten, the houseplants, and their jobs…but we won’t be together. This will be weird, and sometimes sad.
Before looking forward, though, I want to look back on the crazy trip that got me here and what I love about Portland.
During the hot Summer, we learned about getting around on air-conditioned buses and trains. We got to visit our new favorite Laurelhurst Park with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We even walked to the Willamette River and put our feet in!
It was fun getting to show you all the things in our new city, like the zoo.
The biggest thing that we learned about is the weather. It rains a lot here, and we are getting used to asking Google if we should take an umbrella. It even snows! This takes getting used to, but is such a nice change from highs of 70 and lows of 50 that I don’t mind.
I have fallen in love with the theater and art here in Portland. Theaters are made from old churches, warehouses, and even set up in parks. Art and music are everywhere.
People playing music, reciting and writing poetry on street corners just isn’t something we saw in Salinas, and it is a real treat.
And of course, the history! I have been studying about Portland’s past…it’s buildings, trolley cars, and people. It is just about as old as Salinas, but since it is a bigger city, it has more stories.
There is so much I love about Portland. I will miss it, and then return in June to re-discover my new city all over again.
Wednesday was a quiet, stay in and do some writing sort of day. I spread out my books of old photographs of Portland, the timelines I have made for the city and my character, some maps of what was in Downtown Portland in 1888, and started to write my story. I wrote all morning.
After lunch, I settled back down at the computer, and it the lights went out. The lights went out OUTSIDE. Big black clouds had whooshed in and covered the sun so quickly it was like flipping a switch. I dashed downstairs and Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson had noticed it, too. “Thunder and lightning predicted for this afternoon,” said Grandpa Nelson.
It was hard to get focused back on the writing, so I watched out the window. Rain started as quickly as the sun had disappeared, and our gutters became rivers 3 feet wide. An unfortunate UPS delivery guy was getting soaked bringing boxes to us and the new folks across the way.
In our box was…. a new turntable! It replaces the one Grandpa Nelson bought 30 years ago, which we had donated to The Salvation Army before we moved up here. During the downpour, we read the directions, assembled the bits, moved some electronics, and got the thing ready to play.
I chose The Second Muppet Show Album, which was perfectly silly and happy, and as it was playing, thunder rumbled and lightning lit up the sky. The house shook and the sky flashed! We hugged and sort of held onto each other for a moment, then felt better and started laughing. It is impossible to be very scared when the Muppets are singing and the people you love are nearby.
After we got to feeling normal again and the rain settled down to a good solid pour, I got some more writing done. After dinner, the storm stopped and the sun actually came out.
We packed up a bunch of books to return and walked through the park and neighborhood to the Belmont library at Cesar Chavez Blvd. and Taylor. There were so many changes after the storm. The lower dog park area at Laurelhurst Park has become a small lake, and the ducks have moved in. Vines that had been full of grapes and whole trees full of apples had been knocked down by the force of the wind and rain and lay like slimy land mines on the sidewalks. Piles of leaves, washed down to intersections, looked like piles of pudding. We walked carefully, found some new books, and walked back home.
All in all, a full day of writing, weather, music, and walking….some of my favorite things!