Monday’s Meander: Welcome to My Neighborhood

A scene along Old River Road.

Summer has hit full force, with the good and not so good. City center protests for 53 days that now have brought federal troops’ presence, for one, have ramped up local worries….And I need nature all the more.

It has increasingly gotten very hot and dry here. Where to meander? When we considered where to ramble over the weekend, we decided to keep it very local and mostly ventured along the river again. That late July Oregon sunshine burned too fiercely for me; it was a slower, sweatier time time out and about. It may rain for 7 months, but when the summer arrives it brings plenty of blue skies radiating sharp heat! (Not any rain to talk about until October or November.)

Since I worked hard on another piece of writing today, this post will be short and sweet. I have scads of photos of our surrounding woodsy/ riverine/suburban Portland area and local trails we walk. Though I have at times featured shots specific to a larger topic, there are scads more that you might enjoy – these are fairly random random but, hopefully, a refreshing assortment.

A Gabriel Park trail, close to our city.
The ole Willamette River.
It really is nearby–a view from a Cook’s Butte trail.
“Our” woods to call home.
Community gardens

Monday’s Meanders: Portland’s Loved City Center…

First the pandemic hit Portland as it has everywhere (though less heavily-so far-than many big cities). Over the past few days nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis have occurred in many major cities and in Portland. Curfews are again in place. It is a time of even increased sadness, anger and anxieties. This blog is not about current events or politics but I have intense feelings accompanying my thoughts about the current state of it all. However, I do write about and post photos of the metropolitan area. Today I need to offer photos that reflect more peaceful, happy spring and summer days. It is an energetic, creative, open-armed city that I have known and loved most of my adult life….I hope it stays this way, but can at some point heal and become even better.

Monday’s (Imagined) Meander: Caves of the Mostly Brave (or Trying to Be)

Out of the belly of the earth arose exquisite contortions of rock and urgency of shadow, dampness that imbued spasms of light, the innards powerfully compacted and faintly acrid, and much was bright with echoes. But there were footholds to be found despite precarious twists and narrows.

It was a testament to primeval life, and we were foreigners who somehow knew to find our way unless we allowed defeat. We dug in our heels, squeezed through one cavern to find one more confoundment, a puzzle of clefts and tunnels, and we clawed our way as necessary to some distant denouement. The frightful possibility of newness, that exhilaration at the ends of somewhere else that told us: home again.

It had been there before–the wild abundance, the thrumming heart of the living, the aptitude for miracles. It could be discovered again, no matter the hunger and thirst, the dead and dying, misbegotten missions and twisted greed, the terrible paucity of compassion and the careful support without which the way can never be navigated well. One stumbles and falls, one needs hands to at least begin to stand.

Why was this all known to Symsha, the scout who scrambled ahead?

It was written in the cool brilliance of the vast pulsing of stars and the fiery core of deepest earth. In their own blood and bone. It was the code, the pass key, the gift that unlocked it all. From dis-ease to revelation, they could find their way if they’d only pay attention.

But if ever there was a need for a potent sign to hear, a saving word to hear, it was now. And Divine Love waited for all to still, empty of self interest. For the world to reconnect to its own wisdom and its people to wake and rebuild outward and upward once more. To understand: they were meant to exist even higher than the angels– but only if humbler than all else. That was one part, a necessary start to a victorious endeavor, a fight for true freedom.

And so on they crawled and groped and scraped from belly to mouth of the claustrophobic, mesmerizing caves.

There was more to this than they could imagine but Symsha knew it was well that they did not. Greatness was greatness only when unaware. And Symsha was only a guide.

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!”