I’ve told you that Portland is a city where dogs are very popular, but I still prefer cats. Our cat, Mouse (Miss Mousie Mouskin of the Mouseville Mousekins), is my favorite, of course.
She has the balance of a desire for adventure and a love of relaxation that I find copacetic.
But I’m not the only one here who loves cats. There are cats all over the neighborhood, happy, brave, silly and even weird.
There are cats in art here, as well. The McMenamin brothers’ chain of bars and hotels have a a picture of its “distillery cat”, along with Ruby the brewer witch and Hammerhead guy, who is painted in every one of their establishments.
While we were visiting Edgefield, which is a McMenamin’s location east of Portland, we saw this disgruntled cat on the back window of a car.
Sunnyside Environmental School, in our neighborhood, has one painted on its doors, I guess to keep the free roaming chickens company.
Auntie Bridget puts cats into her art all the time. My birthday card this year, which went all the way down to Salinas, featured her and Grandpa Nelson, as cats!
That’s all I’ve got to say about cats in art, for now. But rest assured, there will be more…later.
So far, I have gotten to be here in the spring (for just a week), and the summer (for two months) and the trees and bushes keep changing and growing.
In the spring it was very wet and cool, with only the blooms of azaleas and rhododendrons making big wads of color amid the dark and damp. It seemed like the wet dirt was napping, just waiting for sunshine.
And it’s a good thing the ground was so damp, because we haven’t had rain for two months, except for a short, dramatic thunderstorm. The larger trees are doing well without help, but we see a lot of people out watering their gardens to make sure the plants stay healthy. Summers weren’t always this dry, but because of climate change we are seeing more drought conditions here.
Over at Sunnyside Environmental School, there are watering crews that come in once a week. They have even made signs which crack me up!
This part of town also has lots of food growing. There are apple trees weighted down with fruit and even grapes hanging on fences.
I love sharing my new city with you. I hope your new year at school goes well.
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.
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.
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.
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!