Tag Archives: Portland OR

Eleventh Week

One event dominates this week, and it only tangentially relates to the novel coronavirus, George Floyd’s death as a policeman was filmed with his knee to Floyd’s neck. It was surreal to hear again that the plea,”I can’t breathe!” was ignored. Apparently Milwaukee ( edited to Minneapolis)police have learned nothing from the death of Eric Garner, nothing except that police can be acquitted.

The only possible reaction was to gather in vigil and protest. Milwaukee (edited to Minneapolis) did. And Louisville where grief doubled with grief and anger for the killing of Breonna Taylor. And other cities. And Portland.

I had felt safe going because of the announcement’s emphasis on space and masks. (Organizers walked among the people handing out masks to those without. ) And the bus ride was short. And it was outside on a windy day.

It started out socially distanced, though by the time they marched people looked more clustered. One paper estimated about 1000 attended and several hundred marched. By staying on the fringes to lessen contact, I didn’t hear many of the speeches. What I did hear included both somber tone and anger.

Portland has reason to be angry beyond solidarity with Milwaukee (edited to Minneapolis). We also have too many shootings (usually fatal) of unarmed people (usually black). Grief piles on grief.

I stayed about an hour then headed home. (I move too slowly to do the march portion.) On the way out I saw names of other victims chalked along the sidewalk and this observation.



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Among Portland traditions is the all day event called Wordstock, an event currently presented by Literary Arts and held in several venues near the Portland Art Museum. After last year when the crowds were twice the number expected and disgruntled people stood in line but still didn’t get in to sessions, it was a relief to have the six added venues. Large auditoriums were almost filled, but a few empty seats remained, so I’m guessing that most people got in to sessions of their choice.

Several of my choices were sessions recorded for later presentation on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)’s Thinking Out Loud, starting with Sherman Alexie in dialog. He read his first picture book, Thunder Boy, Jr., interspersing many observations and anecdotes. In addition to enjoying his humor, I appreciated his observation that laughter, in addition to making harsh reality bearable, functions as prayer.

Last year I came home with a list of 12 books, mostly all novels, to add to my to-read list. This year there were fewer books and novels for later. One session was a dud–bad acoustics, bad diction. Who knows, I might have been interested in one of the books had I heard what was said.

I did come away wanting to read two memoirs from teachers: Michael Copperman’s Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta, for a more realistic look at what a teacher can accomplish than the Hollywood myth, and Nicholson Baker’s Substitute: Going to School With One Thousand Kids for some of his observations about meaningful education.

Baker and an afternoon presenter, Sallie Tisdale, made similar observations from their childhoods and recommended their freedom: each had been allowed to read anything they wanted to.

From the session titled “Tales of Two Americas,” I came away with novels (Richard Russo), essays (Karen Russell) and poetry (Kevin Young) to read. Don’t hold your breath, but someday there will be posts reviewing these various readings.





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Japanese Garden

Another venture during daughter and grandson’s visit was the Japanese Garden. It is not a colorful season, like spring or fall would be; however, there is a subtle beauty to the various greens.

It is more meditative than a place to run and play, so we wondered about its appeal to a 3 1/2-year-old. The ticket clerk offered a treasure hunt map, which Logan guarded carefully for most of the visit.

Japanese Garden treasure map

He spotted the first item all by himself, but had to be helped to find others.

Japanese Garden tall structureSpotted instantly by Logan, it was at the beginning of the path. ETA a description from the brochure: “The antique 5-tiered stone pagoda lantern [was] given to Portland from its sister city, Sapporo, Japan. The stones at the base of the pagoda are in the shape of the island of Hokkaido. The red stone represents Sapporo.”

The rest were less obvious.Japanese Garden heron sculptures

A pointed finger led him to see the heron sculptures; I don’t think he ever saw the frog. (It doesn’t even show up in my photo–distant, small and moss covered.)

The deer chaser was fascinating.

Japanese Garden deer chaser

We watched several rounds while the water flowed from the top bamboo to the lower one; the lower one filled up and tipped, making a sound. Luckily it didn’t take too long to fill.

Buddha and the Animals was a bit abstract and took some convincing.

His mother pointed out the number of animals on the map and the number of small stones in the sand garden, and he was finally satisfied.

The Jizo was spotted by only one adult in the group and required retracing steps.

Japanese Garden lecture

Doesn’t he look like he is giving a lecture about it?

Hunger pangs decreased interest in the map; food not being allowed in the garden, we worked on getting to the exit and a picnic area near the International Test Rose Garden.

The two gardens are among the sites in Washington Park.





Filed under family, photography, travel

Grandson Visit

Three-and-a-half is a wonderful age; I love watching language acquisition and logic development (and sometimes lack of). And imitation.

And physical skill development, like climbing.

Of course Grandma was impressed that he got there all by himself. The more intricate climbs required Mom’s coaching, but not help.

I was too busy watching as he crossed the top, foot dangling in midair till Mom reminded him to look where the rung was. Then he got it and finished, making it across both loops.

Another adventure was the Children’s Museum.

He did wear a hard hat while doing construction, but it kept falling off. The tool belt was also as big a hit as the building activities.

Of course I have more photos, but I’ll restrain myself.


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Early Christmas

Sometimes family life and calendar life don’t coincide. So we celebrate when we can. Logan is almost 2, and toddlers can be quite entertaining.

We did sight seeing things, of course. We were one of three small groups late in the afternoon at the Lan Su Chinese Garden.


I’m sure part of our enjoyable 2-hour visit there was that Logan led the way. He thought he was in a BIG park.

Wall and windows

We did our ritual stop at the tea house (alas I neglected to take pictures there) where his favorite food was the cucumber garnish. Adults enjoyed moon cakes, steamed buns and dumplings. And of course tea.

And I have to have the ritual shot of the persimmons tree, even though Logan is not in it.

persimmons tree

Not the usual angle, but the same tree.

And the red rose was in bloom, though it was getting too dark to get a photo of it. Sunset was around 4:30; garden visit 3:00-5:00. A visit at dusk was a new experience.

The next day was as full as a 2-year-old can handle. First the Benson Hotel’s gingerbread display.

Gingerbread castle

Gazing at the 150 lbs. of housemade gingerbread, Logan said, “Toys!” Luckily he has learned (most of the time) to enjoy things with his eyes. From there to the children’s section of Powell’s City of Books, then to VooDoo Donuts, then the Christmas tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. No photos. What were we thinking?

Even though light rail is not new to him, Logan got excited to be on the “Big train” with “People,” and even moreso when another train passed us. We rode to N Interstate and N Denver to see the Paul Bunyan statue. Logan was not as impressed as we expected, but he did comment, “Big boots!” No photo because we were hurrying to get out of the rain at Posie’s Cafe for lunch. Next time Logan saw the statue it was from inside the car, and he pointed and said, “Little big guy.”I love trying to follow his logic as he chatters. I’m thinking this statement was a comparison of the apparent size from the car window in contrast to the closer view walking by, and “big guy” was the name of the statue, and this time it looked little.

Another day we went to the train museum.

What a clever museum! The adults loved the three working vintage engines–one of which was being steamed up for an excursion the next day. (We would have ridden it except they were leaving the next morning.) And a toy train for toddlers. We had thought Logan might not let us get our fill; it turned out his interest lasted longest.

And then the early Christmas gifts.

It took a while to get the hang of unwrapping gifts; then Logan wanted to help everyone, play with the paper, and start rewrapping things. (Did you see the placemats in one of the photos? They got finished in time.)

In addition to all that sight seeing and gift excitement, there was food, conversation, and hanging out time.

hanging out

More fun than the toys was playing with the afghan, poking fingers and toes through the holes, wiggling and watching the afghan move. Who needs toys?

Linking with Anything Goes–Hey there is one mention of a quilt.


Filed under family, Holidays

A Short, Poignant Book

GlaciersGlaciers by Alexis M. Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although called a novel and appearing to be 174 pages, the pages are small and the margins large, which makes it more like a long short story. It also reads more like a short story in its compactness.

I am sure there is more to glacier imagery than I have gotten so far, but I have seen history, mystery, and the slow disappearing. The imagery of glaciers calving appeared twice: on the imagined trip from Seattle back to Alaska and later to describe the parents’ relationship: everything important calved away.

To Isabella the glacier represented her life in Alaska when the family was whole.

Isabella dwelt in the past through her shopping in vintage shops for everything and her career in the library repairing old books. She also dwells in an imaginary world. She has friends, gay male friends. She has a secret crush on another library worker. (view spoiler) The imagined life Vs. the actual life is reinforced by a brief comparison of the library staff in the basement to super heroes disguised as geeks.

The narration wove skillfully between past and present, between imagination and experience to draw a photo of Isabella. Poignant was her hope that her life would not end up in a shoe box of photos in an antique store.

View all my reviews


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Old Portland in Gingerbread

Front view of gingerbread Old PortlandFor nineteen years, there has been a gingerbread creation at the Benson Hotel; this being the hotel’s 100th year of operation, the creation depicts Portland around 1913. Created by Chef David Diffendorfer, the display involves approximately 100 pounds of gingerbread and 25 pounds of white chocolate and marzipan. (We could smell the gingerbread.)

Having been a Portlander for only two years, I didn’t recognize many of the buildings; however, a desk clerk gave us a crash course in Portland history.

Center view

The building with the medallion is the Benson Hotel itself. The tan building with a little dome at the left is Pioneer Court House, still a functioning courthouse. In front is the Willamette River.

Amusement ParkHere is a view a little to the left to show Council Crest, in those days the site of an amusement park known for its big roller coaster. Today it is a city park, a workout of a hike with the reward of a great view of the city.

Union StationIn the foreground is Union Station which has been restored and still functions as an Amtrak station. Up at the top left is Pittock Mansion, another hike with a rewarding view of the city as well as the option for a tour of the house. The tour I’ve done; the hike not. I should have moved to Portland when I was younger.

Visiting the gingerbread creation will become one of my Christmas traditions, now that I know about it. And as this time, so in the future, lunch at the Palm Cafe: the mushroom melt was wonderful.


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Nosey Neighbor

Mona at window

Ever vigilant

Look who keeps watch at NE. 30th and NE. Alberta. [ETA ‘N’ to ‘NE’ in the interest of accuracy.]

Every time I am in this neighborhood, I wish for my camera; today I had it. And I got a Fall photo of my favorite tree.

fall pine shotIf I were a true Oregonian instead of a transplant from two years ago, I could tell you what type fir/pine it is. As it is, it is my favorite tree in the neighborhood, and that is good enough.


Filed under Portland OR

Hawthorne Bridge Study

I spent a lovely afternoon at Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the Willamette River. Part of the time I was walking, some reading, and the rest I spent photographing the Hawthorne Bridge.

before parkBut first, this photo from the park plaque shows the expressway that was removed to create the park. It is good to know that sometimes nature and aesthetics triumph. The park is part of a greenway along the river.

The Hawthorne Bridge is near one end of the park, and my interest was spurred by a project to make a quilt based on one of Portland’s bridges. The project involves using a half yard of Violet Craft’s fabric line whose design was inspired by Waterfront Park–some pieces are shown on the project blog entry. The project originators want quilts to be somewhat equally distributed among the 7 or so bridges, so we each signed up for a bridge, and I selected the Hawthorne Bridge–partly because at the time the list was in my hands, Hawthorne Bridge had only two others signed up and partly because it is one I really like.

The project designers want us to look under/over/and beyond the bridge. So I stood under the entry road on the east side of the river for the first shot and kept walking for more views down under.
From under the entry to the bridgeIf I were doing something realistic, I’d work on capturing that skyline with the bridge blended into it.
Under the bridgeSometime, I foresee a quilt made from this view under the bridge itself–it fits my current minimalist instincts. However, I’m debating whether there needs to be something more recognizable for the present project. Also the fabric line lends itself to something less stark.

lift mechanismDistinctive features of this bridge are the four arches on the eastern approach, this center moveable portion, and one more arch to link to the western side. There are other bridges with multiple arches, and the Steel Bridge has what looks to me a similar lift, so it is the combination that is distinctive and the red color of the weights. It is good I have time to think on this one. I don’t immediately see how I can combine that view of the bridge with the fabrics or with modern design. And they have asked for a modern quilt.

detail of tower bottombridge tower top

I love these details. There is a lot of room to apply what I learned in Rosalie Dace’s class at Sisters about lines in design. I may just have to do a series.

No rush, though. Due date is sometime in the spring of 2014.


Filed under design, photography, quilting

More Sand in the City

I made it back to Pioneer Courthouse Square for a better look at the sand sculpture. Not only was the light mostly better, but I could get closer now.  Off to the side, sculpture was still being created, so those who had not been here yesterday could see the process. Children could still play in the sand.

If there was a theme, I couldn’t fine the information. I did learn that the second place, the silver rake, had gone to “On the Right Track(s)” that I has pictured yesterday, created by OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). The third place, the bronze bucket, went to “Nemo.”


I think this one was “Nemo.”

If anyone else posts a different “Nemo,” believe them.

bear in grass skirtThe hula bear was fun; notice the ocean wave to her left, the bear tanning on the beach and the swimmers up front.

Ocean wave detailHere is a better look at the ocean wave.

bear and squirrelNote the different textures that were created.

mice and cheeseI expected this one to be “Who Moved My Cheese,” but it was “Don’t be Cheesy.” Cute mice.

boy and trainThe dog patiently waits while the boy plays with his train.

Front view of boy and trainThe other side of the boy and his train. The train was headed to Hillsboro, and we have a light-rail train that indeed ends its route at Hillsboro, but beyond that I don’t know of any significance. It would be nice to have stories somewhere, like artist statements at exhibitions.

front view of alligator under bedHere is a better view than yesterday’s of the alligator under the bed. The title, I learned, was “Imagination is my Super Power.”

campers and fireThe title of this one is “Please Don’t Feed the Bears.” The campers sit by their camp fire oblivious to the two bears driving their car away.  I didn’t take a photo of the bears because they had lost their noses. It was the only casualty I noticed. I was actually surprised there wasn’t some spraying of water to help preserve the sculptures–they will be up tomorrow too.

detail of campfireThe campfire creation was impressive; inside the flames was hollow.

It was definitely worth a second trip to me. I hope you think so too.

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Filed under creativity, Portland OR