Monday's Meanders: Extinct Volcano, River and Woods

I had mentioned before that our area spreads about an extinct volcano, Mount Sylvania–one of several that provide enjoyable small “peak experiences” around Portland. This one is about 1000 feet. Nansen Summit (named for Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian diplomat, polar explorer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) is close enough to walk to–if you call trudging up a long, steep incline mere walking. The area is lushly green on the way and when at top, gratifying as when final views are embraced with wind and sunshine. The West Hills, Tualatin Valley can be seen. The more distant Coast Range is often clear enough to take in, as well as the Cascades. It was a bit smoggy or misty (take your pick; we do often have some foggy conditions) that day. Portland sprawls below the volcanic site.

We headed down the other side of the steep hill to look about, and turned this way and that to avoid residential areas with imposing homes since we like being in nature more. All persons we passed on foot–a couple dozen in an hour–were friendly as usual, if “socially distanced.” We were surprised so many were venturing out with the virus worry, but good to see as t hey stayed safely apart.

The previous day we enjoyed a familiar Willamette River walk. A creek or two also gurgle along as they seek to join the big waterway. Perhaps this is the last time we will be there for awhile; Governor Brown, following many others, has mandated today that we “stay at home.” We can still walk, run and hike in more open swaths of space and air but carefully, where there are fewer people…But Saturday there was no mandate and there were some groups gathered, to my surprise, especially young people who love the water. Of course, six feet apart is not always hard to accomplish outdoors–not on some water craft. We saw a fair number of lone fishermen and women, also.

Ignorance is bliss.
Flowers keep flowering everywhere, thank goodness.

Marc enjoying a view; me, taking a break before entering a city park. All in all, two happy walkabouts we got in over the week-end! It sure is true that fresh air and feet on the move are always good if possible. See you soon with my usual “Wednesday’s Words” post. Until then, be well. I am off for a shorter, chillier walk.

Monday’s Meander: Revisiting a Favorite Troll and Our Art Experience

I have been close to home lately with the unpredictable coronavirus showing up in our area; it is also generally quite cold, often cloudy or foggy and damp again so I am not tromping far afield, though I keep up my walks. So I looked through old posts and found one that provided some good cheer: “She Who Rules Wisely: Troll Runs the Show”, posted in 2013. It was a visit to a local arts museum that inspired this. It may not seem like a meander at first glance–more an outing and experience–but imagination can take us anywhere, and I revisited past pleasures so this time it counts! I hope you enjoy foolish, fun time I had with the above troll. (She still resides with me on a bookshelf.)

She Who Rules Wisely: Troll Runs the Show

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My family recently enjoyed a reunion for a week. We shared a variety of activities and talked from morning until evening. Our five adult children landing within the same city limits is a rare event. They got to reunite with an uncle and three aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.

One sunny afternoon we explored a few offerings of downtown Portland. My oldest daughter is an artist and since we all love the arts, we visited the choice Museum of Contemporary Craft. We saw an exhibit of bowls in many mediums displayed as part of a project organized by Ayumi Horie in partnership with the museum entitled “Object Focus: The Bowl”. Particularly curious was a table lined with bowls that we could pick up and examine, think about, admire. An option for the visitor was choosing an artist whose bowl was enjoyed, thus being given the privilege of taking a similar bowl home to use by checking it out at the Circulation Desk. This part of the project is called “Object Focus: The Bowl, Engage + Use.”

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Yes, that’s correct–we got to utilize the very art that museums typically discourage us from touching. What an adventurous concept! I was all in, especially when the others encouraged me. We all agreed we would at least use a unique and beautifully crafted bowl for an upcoming family BBQ. The daughters started to think of foods the bowl might hold. I finally chose one created by Mike Helke. It is an unusual shape, and the glazes are lovely. I knew it could make something good happen.

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We did fill the bowl with a luscious fruit salad for our family reunion meal. But we had a few other ideas and I seized upon one in particular.

It involves a troll. My troll.

She Who Rules Wisely (aka Crone aka Old Troll) was given to me by my mother over thirty-five years ago, following a Scandinavian trip my parents took. I think of this carved creature as an ancient and watchful being from first, another dimension, and second, a region that attracts me with its natural grandeur and history. Since her kind supposedly has power there and in my house, I afford her respect and a prominent place of repose.

Every now and then we talk a little in secret, I must admit…she is reassuring yet stern, frank but humorous–much like my mother and her sisters have been, reasonably…. But most of all, “SWRW” is a survivor and considers herself queenly when at her best. In fact, she confides she borders on goddess-hood. She is part of a long and dignified history whether or not we humans get it. (In truth, she is a bit raggedy after her nearly legendary life, but I would never mention it to her face…)

There was no question that she would chime in when she saw the bowl brought home. She has opinions, after all–and does adore the limelight. What follows is a transcription of her responses, aided by pictures she has allowed.

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“I see. Trying to get this one over me, eh? I happen to have been thinking about boats and beds, either of which this great piece of ceramic might become. Allow me to investigate further. I can’t sleep anyway, with all the racket.”

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“Yes, yes. About the right size. Sturdy yet elegant. Best colors I’ve seen in eons. But which to use it for…no, no suggestions needed!”

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“‘Oh, sail me across the great Atlantic, take me back to my fiords, my dear! Make me a bed in the deep velvety forest, my true love does await me there!’ What? My voice needs a tune up, you say? Rude…never mind. This suits me well. But would it sink…anyone check that out yet? What are the specs?”

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“This looks and feels nothing whatsoever like the ocean…”

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“That was extraordinarily taxing to flip over. No, I didn’t need your help. I need to get my exercise regimen in gear, anyway. I am aged, I do need my cardio. But now, what to do, what to do? I feel at home in here…A bed, a boat. Shhh…! I’m cogitating. “

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“Brain fatigue. I might need to rest up first. Not as quick as I used to be. Wait….that gives me another thought. Watch this.”

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“Not so easy to get comfortable, I admit, but I’ve known rocks that were much worse. The three rectangles are a deft touch but this rounded side sleeps poorly. I could use a cushy bed of moss about now. What did you say the craftsman was building? Right, bowls.”

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“Okay, it’s the fabric that is half the problem. Where did you get this? I don’t like it. Cheap. Remove at once.”

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“An improvement but somewhat claustrophobic. Reminds me of some fishing boats I’ve sheltered under during my unbelievably long, occasionally nomadic life. I could tell you stories!– another time. If I could, I’d close my other eye and sleep away the rest of the evening. This whole experience is inspiring but, I have to admit, tiring.”

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“You know what? I appreciate the generous offer, but you may keep it, Cynthia. It looks good, you like it, but to me it’s a boat that won’t float and a bed that hexes snoozing. My tail is starting to drag now. Let me give you some advice. Next time you want to bring home art, take me with you. I’m available for consulting for a reasonable fee. Speaking engagements, as you know, are a heftier investment. But they might not be about any arts that you’d appreciate. I know things, you know.”

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“Hey…okay, here we go again. Storytellers–you all have to have the very last word. Wait–keep that profile shot–my best side! I do look pretty good, eh? Yes, I do. And I’ve got my eye on you, my dear!”

Monday’s Meander: Spring Travel/Yachats–or Victoria?

I have been on lovely area power walks recently but there is, while walking, a rustling about in my brain about my yearly birthday trip in late April or early May. (I missed last year’s as twin grand-babies came about that time–what a present to us all!) And I have been fairly certain it would be Victoria, BC, Canada for the fifth time or the Pacific Ocean for the gazillionth. I was about settled on the ocean after looking through previous pictures, and looking forward to it after months away. Then I was pulled right back to Victoria and Vancouver Island. Such a choice–both are wonderful.

At the base of the Coast Range Mountains, Yachats (YAH-hots) is a prime getaway spot for Marc and me. Unlike some of the other central coastal towns and beaches, it is quieter, smaller (about 750 folks), and not touristy. The beaches are often even empty when we go–not so much in summer– and tide pools are fascinating to explore. We climb about basalt rocks to scout out starfish, sea anemones and rocks and various oddities brought from the sea. Also, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area (highest point on the coast is amid beautiful forests) is close and a great place to hike. So we return year after year, though it is easily a four hour drive over the mountains, then down the west coast via Highway 101.

And yet, everyone who has taken the ferry from Washington State to Vancouver Island to embrace Victoria for an enchanted week knows that it is a place to love for life. British influence is evident architecturally but the varied boats, harbor scene and the fact it’s on a wilder island to explore draws us most. Some of the best food is there, too, and famous Butchart Gardens.

A view of flowers at Butchart
Sunken garden at Butchart

But over the week-end I saw my 14 year old grandson, Asher. He mentioned a trip to visit a maternal aunt in Idaho soon. We talked a bit about the area he’ll be visiting, why he enjoys it so much.

“I’ve often thought of going to visit there–I’ve mostly seen northern Idaho.

“Yeah, you keep saying that.” He half-grinned at me from beneath a flop of hair. “Well, it’s beautiful there.”

He showed me a picture he had taken of the Sawtooth Mountains–he texts me pictures of interesting sights as I do, to him. I had seen some good ones before but was quite taken with the one he showed me. Talk about majestic and bucolic…

“Maybe I should finally go, huh?”

He shrugged in that teen-age way, as if no difference to him– but then nodded. He promised to send me more pictures during his upcoming trip from Bend, OR to Cary, ID.

So today I made the decision. After all, I do crave changing and dramatic topography; the Rocky Mountains traverse Idaho! Thanks to Asher, I’m going to visit, likely staying in the Boise area surrounded by spectacular Boise Mountains. Sights to enjoy: high desert. A city in a river basin within mountains that reach over 10,000 feet. River canyons to peer into or hike. Ranch land everywhere. What’s not to appreciate? Similar to Oregon yet offering newly expansive and fresh sights. We’ll drive through eastern Oregon–oddly not traveled despite living in the NW for 30 years. I am quite excited about a new adventure.

Meantime, plenty of lovely Oregon to enjoy. I will post more of our area next week. Have a happy week or find ways to make it better.

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Monday’s Meander: NE Portland Sunny Sights Call Me–Again

Lion and the Rose Victorian Guest House

I cannot lie–though I have come to quite appreciate southwest Portland with its curvaceous topography, its serpentine, woodsy trails, I still feel a tug to the old neighborhood, close-in to city center. So I visit NE Portland–especially now that the weather has begun to turn a jot warmer and a tad drier. We call it spring when there are two days with little more than very small bursts of rain, the snowdrops, crocuses, camellias start to open and swaths of sunlight land gentle on the skin. Though I must say I wait, too, for the intense fragrance of daphne to find me.

So, off I went in search of blooms and bluer skies; the parks and buildings attract me, also. Here are a few shots from the old neighborhood. I guarantee there will be more to post as spring unfolds into summer and and then fall graces the yards and streets. Historic Irvington is that lovely.

Above and below displays some of an old hotel now operated as a bed and breakfast that has been sold a couple of times in 30 years. I noted it once again had a For Sale sign. I hope it isn’t ever demolished to make way for an apartment building. Though opened for guests in 1993, it is a mansion built in 1906, a melding of Craftsman and Victorian architecture and decoration.

As I stroll about the neighborhood, welcoming views catch my eye with their hints of longer, warmer days. Note pungent daphne, below with pink flowerlets and bright striated foliage. Could smell it long before I saw it.

I like the many sorts of fences and walls. The stone is well loved by mosses and colorful plants.

I could manage an entire post of graceful houses and never share them all from Irvington (if you live in Portland, take a long walk around and see for yourself). But here are three pleasant spots.

I’ve never understood these perched angels looking quite sullen and perhaps considering chastisements, but there you are. I suppose they’re doing their job, watching passersby.

I leave you with these small but happy moments–until next week.

Monday’s Meander: Chihuly Garden & Glass

A “contained ceiling” installation of glass art by Dale Chihuly

One of the big sights in Seattle is the Dale Chihuly glass exhibition housed long term in Seattle Center, established in 2012. Marc and I enjoyed it at its inception that year and were pleased to visit again. Born and raised in nearby Tacoma, Chihuly is world renowned for his organic, imaginative glass formations. A major installation of site-specific work is Chihuly Over Venice, his glass sculptures installed over canals and piazzas;he has installed several other major works. His work is included in over 200 museum collections around the world.

Botanic and oceanic forms largely highlight the Seattle exhibit, and large and small bowls inspired by Native American basketry also are significant. The colors of his work are vibrant and saturated, the forms often sinuous. There are eight galleries represented here, as well as a Glasshouse and Garden. As during the original visit, I was swept happily into his original, curious world which shone with a radiant light. Enjoy this fantastical meandering!

Space Needle behind the Chihuly sculpture