Hoyt Arboretum, Part 2

Dear Liza,

The Hoyt Arboretum kept showing us things we didn’t expect.

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It’s Cold!!

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.

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          Basket of Air by Ivan McClean                                              Photo Credit Bridgett Spicer

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.

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Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial

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.

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Cold Winter Sun Through Moss

Photo Credit Bridgett Spicer

Love,

Grandma Judy

Return to the Children’s Museum

Dear Liza,

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Kestrel, the Alligator’s Dentist

As I had promised, the cousins and I went back up the hill to Washington Park yesterday to visit the Children’s Museum. Since Grandpa Nelson had to work and I hate driving, we took the number 4 bus and Red Line MAX train to get there.

The Children’s Museum is less of a museum and more of a giant, well designed play environment for kids. There are rooms with set-ups for water play, a farm to table grocery room, a pet hospital, engineering, toy cars, and a theater with costumes, lights and puppets.

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Running the Shop

Jasper loves the water room and Kestrel, the theater, and the rooms are close enough together that I can sort of wander between them and keep and eye on both kids. Jasper actually came and found us in the theater, making me very proud of his responsibility and navigation skills.

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Jasper the Hydraulics Engineer

After a few hours inside, we stepped out to the Zany Maze to eat the food I had brought. The Museum sells hot dogs and such, but I preferred a day with healthier snacks. Blueberries (from our Sauvie Island trip) and some of Grandpa Nelson’s peanuts and a big jug of water gave us energy for the afternoon.

Instead of going back inside the Museum, we explored the outside area, which has just been re-opened after a long period of development. It is wonderful!

The Outdoor Adventure, starts with The Spring, which has water play combined with sand, water management, buckets, and activities that encourage teamwork. Jasper and Kestrel played with several other kids, two of whom did not speak English at all, but they all understood and helped each other. It was wonderful to see.

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Teamwork!

We wandered down the trail past the creek, all the way down to The Amphitheater. There was a young lady helping the kids ‘fish’ in a small pool, and a mom teaching her little one about jumping rope. Jasper joined in and did 11 consecutive jumps! He was justifiably proud.

In our last 20 minutes, as energy was waning, we went back inside to see what The Treehouse Adventure room was. Turns out, it is designed for just the sort of activity we needed, a quiet winding down…. there is a tree house to go into and read, or just sit.

We got some going-home snacks, caught the Red Line train, then the Orange Line train, and were home by 3. We started reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, and were on chapter 7 by the time Auntie Katie got home. It’s a great read!

Auntie Katie got home and Kestrel wanted some acrobatics time. Mother and daughter did some pretty nifty balance poses! These poses are ab workouts, mother-daughter time, and cooperation training, all at once. Real Ph.D level parenting, if you ask me.

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Acro pose

Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett came a brought me home, and we had dinner. What a lovely day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Goose Hollow and Beyond

Dear Liza,

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Getting Around on MAX

My friend Terry Soria is in town! She is visiting her daughter and son-in-law, and she made time to have brunch with me. Her family lives way over on the northwest edge of Portland.

I knew it would be a long trip, so I started early. I caught the number 15 bus at 7:30 and rode up to Providence Park in Goose Hollow. Then I got onto the red line train (blue would have worked as well) and rode through the mountain, past the Washington Park station in the tunnel, to the Sunset transit center. This is where my plans hit a snag. I had planned my trip using the Weekday schedule, and I was traveling on Saturday. The commuter bus, the number 62, runs less often and was going to make me very late to meet Terry and her family.

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Terry and the BEST Coffee!

Sweet people that they are, they came to the transit center and fetched me! We drove to Grand Central Bakery, on NW Cornell, and had a wonderful second breakfast of croissants, coffee, and sandwiches. We chatted about how our family’s are, how work is, and how fabulous Portland is. They told me of their visits to the Columbia locks, Multnomah Falls, and the Microbrewery festival. Yum!

And they had another full day planned, an exciting jet boat ride on the Willamette from Portland all the way upriver to Oregon City! So they drove me back to the transit center where I caught the train, along with a dozen happy Japanese tourists heading to the zoo.

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Art at Lincoln High School

I have always wanted to see the area of town called Goose Hollow, so I got off the train there and walked. None of the shops were open yet, but I got to see the new construction at Providence Park. Situated just at the foot of the west Portland hills, this has been the main athletic field in town since the late 1800s. It was originally called Multnomah Field, and is where the Portland Timbers soccer team plays. I also enjoyed the mosaic and painted tile artwork along the walls of the Lincoln High School field.

This area is called Goose Hollow because, as the story goes, housewives in the 1800s would let their geese into the grassy area to eat and grow nice and fat before selling them. Apparently it would be quite a sight to see a few dozen geese strutting through field and road, stopping traffic when they pleased. These tall, proud geese are memorialized in a delightfully cocky bronze goose standing on the train platform.

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Cool Goose, Dude

Ready to head home, I walked down to Salmon and caught the number 15, finally taking a picture of the salmon coming through the building. In the evening we got to have some more fun, but I will tell you about that tomorrow!

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Giant Salmon in a Building

Washington Park, Part 2

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I told you about the Fireman’s Memorial, The Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden. Today I will tell you what came next.

These next paragraphs are sad.

Feeling like my bucket of humanity was full, I decided to head down the hill. Along the way I saw signs for the Holocaust Memorial. The Holocaust was a terrible time in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s when the leader of Germany, Adolph Hitler, decided that his country (and all countries) would be better if there were no Jews, gypsies, artists, gay people, or anyone who disagreed with the government. He ordered his government to kill over 6 million men, women and children. That is the Holocaust.IMG_8585.jpg

The entrance to the Memorial feels almost accidental. You see a doll left on a bench, then a broken suitcase on the path. Then a baby shoe and a damaged menorah. You realize these are made of bronze, and that they are here to show the chaos and horror of being stolen from your own life and hustled away on trains to camps where you will be killed. img_8587.jpg

Walking forward, there is a curved wall with plaques carved with writings from people who survived this Holocaust. On the back are names of people who died.

Having had my soul filled with beauty and joy from the gardens, it was now overflowing with sadness at the cruelty of humanity. I sat and stared and cried for a while.IMG_8590.jpg

Again starting down the hill, I saw a sign to the Lewis and Clark Plaza. Huh? That’s where President Teddy Roosevelt dedicated the Lewis and Clark Memorial in 1903! That’s a location from the story I have been draining my brain on! So of course I had to walk over. The platform is made of brick, with a tall granite column with state seals from Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Somewhere under the brick is the time capsule Teddy buried on May 21, 1903. But the historians have misplaced it. So it is still there. Cool.IMG_8597.jpg

I spent a while picturing the crowds that stood in the pouring rain that day, listening to speeches, bands and choirs and cheering for the President and the country.

My heart now not only filled but double shelved and overflowing with the best and worst of humanity, I finished my trip down the hill. Along the way I met a young mother with a toddler and infant, who asked me directions to Washington Park. I hope she enjoys it as much as I did, and hoped secretly the children slept through the Japanese Garden.

Love, Grandma Judy

Washington Park, Part 1

Dear Liza,

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Tiny bit of inspiration

Lately, I have been feeling like my brain is empty. People call it Writer’s Block, but it doesn’t feel blocked, it feels like a big hollow hole where a bunch of happy ideas used to be.

So I decided to go out and fill it up.

I got on the number 15 bus and headed for Washington Park. As the bus was going up the hill on Burnside, though, I pulled the cord to get off. I saw something I’d only read about: It was Fireman’s Park, a monument built in 1911 to honor David Campbell, who was fire chief from 1893 to 1911 and died fighting a fire, running in to a burning building to get his men out safely.

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Memorial for David Campbell

The fountain is under repair, but the bronze plaque is handsome. There are also small plaques recognizing other firemen who have lost their lives on duty, from J. Hewston in 1892  to A. Berg in 1948. Firemen’s Park is on a very noisy bit of land, so I moved along up the hill for some contemplation.

At the base of Washington Park there are several entries.  I took the ancient looking stone steps. There were signs, which kept me from wandering too far in the wrong direction, and I eventually found the Japanese Garden. I climbed up the new steps through a forested ravine to the new entrance. At last, the serenity I was searching for!IMG_8478.jpg

Well, no. Everyone comes to the Japanese Garden in summer. There were old men with walkers, active grandmas with all the grandkids, and young people walking past 100 year old Bonsais, staring at their phones. Not what I was after.

There was visual serenity once I waited for for groups to pass, but as a teacher, children’s voices cannot be tuned out. I either want to answer their questions, remind them of their manners, or suggest they go play somewhere else, none of which was appropriate. So, noise.

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The view that restores souls

I enjoyed it as best as I could, enjoying a nice quiet lunch at The Umami Cafe in the new Japanese Educational Village and walking through the entire garden again. Better.

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Lunch!

I discovered the Robert and Debra Zagunis Castle Wall, built here with Oregon granite by a 15th generation Japanese stone mason. It looked very formidable and gave me a first hand visual of the walls at Osaka Castle, which I have been reading about in Shogun by James Clavell.

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Castle Wall

But I wasn’t full yet. I walked down the ravine and across the road to the International Rose Test Garden. It built in 1917 to make sure the European rose varieties being decimated by World War I weren’t lost entirely. It is huge, beautiful, and, today, much quieter than the Japanese Garden. I visited here last summer with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, and it is still wonderful.IMG_8567.jpg

I will tell you more about my day tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Back to…. History!

Dear Liza,

We returned to McMenamin’s History Pub at The Kennedy School on Monday night for dinner, fun and education. This time the subject was an odd combination: The Poor Farm and the Rose Garden.

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Another mosaic at The Kennedy School

Let me explain. From 1868 to 1911, there was a farm in the West Hills of Portland where people who were poor or sick and couldn’t take care of themselves could go. At the Poor Farm, there was shelter, food,  a farm to work on, a hospital, and doctors to care for the people. It wasn’t fancy, but it was care, and over time the population of the farm grew from 20 to more than 200. Some of these people were sick and needed the hospital to recover and then go home, but others couldn’t live on their own and stayed for the rest of their lives.

In 1911, some nurses came to see the farm and decided the whole place was no longer acceptable as a health care facility. It was too old and falling apart.

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          The Poor Farm in the West Hills               Oregon Historical Society photo

Besides that, the property in the West Hills which had been so remote from town in 1868 was now on the western edge of a city needing to expand, and was very valuable. (Eyebrows up!) The city of Portland wanted to develop City Park, right next door, as “the crown jewel” of the city. Some of the property was sold to be developed into fancy homes, which would be near the newly developed park and have lovely views over the city to Mt. Hood in the east. The Poor Farm, with contagious people living right next door to the new Park and the expensive homes, was a problem. The Farm was torn down and the people moved east, by a town called Troutdale.

But the hills weren’t stable! Every bit of land that was moved to get the hills level caused landslides. No housing development was possible. (Sad sigh from developers.) By then, the city of Portland was even bigger, and City Park was getting too small and crowded. The whole top of Mt. Washington were brought in and developed into the park. The old Poor Farm property became the Oregon Zoo.

Then, in 1915, World War I was raging in Europe. Besides the danger to the people, buildings and gardens that had been developed for centuries were being destroyed. Jesse Curry, a Rose lover in this “City of Roses”, asked the city to set aside land to plant roses brought from Europe, to save them. The unstable land where the houses couldn’t be built became this Rose Garden and tennis courts. The Rose Garden now has 607 varieties of roses and is cared for by paid gardeners and hundreds of volunteers. It has become the Crown Jewel of The City Of Roses, and gets 700,000 visitors every year.

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Adorable little girl in Rose Garden

I am learning so much about how cities grow. The basic needs of people don’t change: food, shelter, jobs, and fun. But a city of 2,000 deals with these very differently than a city of 200,000 or 2 million. Change is hard and messy, but necessary.

And, in Portland, you also get roses.

Love,

Grandma Judy