Saturday, August 27, 2016

All In 7 Rows :: Two Hundred Forty One

Most of the job was done yesterday, when I started working in our big garden bed. With the favor of an overcast sky, I finished planting the chard, and gave everything a deep soak, this morning. Still room for the carrot seeds, and if September isn't brutally hot, I'll start peas.

Sigh... I just love the optimism and anticipation of a new garden planted, each seedling a hopeful prayer.

Row One: Herbs! Basil, thyme, savory, lemon thyme, sage, oregano~

Row Two: Dianthus... Sweet William~

Row Three: Zinnias, and room for carrots~

Row Four: A blueberry shrub, zinnias, hollyhocks~

Row Five: The other blueberry, pepper, cosmo, pepper, cosmo, pepper, cosmo, pepper!

Row Six: Chard, chard, chard, chard, chard, chard, chard, and two varieties of eggplant~

Row Seven: Mexican zucchini! And the dwarf peach tree in the corner~

(It's our Seven Year Garden... celebrating our seventh anniversary in our dear Bird House~)

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Really Big Garden Bed :: Two Hundred Forty

This big, beautiful bed was cleared out, the soil turned, and amended from the goat-chicken team compost... all of that intense labor thanks to a wonderful handyman. It's ready to be planted, and has been waiting for me to be ready, too. It's a gift, a prize, a playground for the hands and soul. I've been immersed in the pleasure of digging, hauling, and planting for the last two and half hours... talking to the peppers and cosmos, tucking in the herbs, reassuring the zinnias. I met worms, thank goodness! Bees are already visiting the rosy Sweet William. Alex joined me for a spell, and I know Maria will be glad to plant the carrot seeds. The work is nearly complete. No, actually, it's only the beginning! I only hope that what's begun will flourish and delight. A good garden, it seems to me, is a blessed mix of labor, optimism, and nature's favor. God bless gardeners!

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Really Long Laurelhurst Pokémon Walk

Ok, maybe not really long. Maybe just slightly less than really long, but bear in mind... we'd already been hiking around the Falls, and it was in the high nineties-hot in Portland, so coupled with being unsure of our directions, and redoubling our steps all over Laurelhurst Park, in search of Pokémon, we kind of did have a really long walk, our first day out in Portland. And it began at Trader Joes.

Portland was searing! And weird. And familiar. We grabbed some milk, and fruit, before checking into our place, and bidding farewell to Mom and Dad. Can I just say... I love having TJ's for a dependable source of tasty food, local color, and conveniences. They don't sponsor CB, but we sure do appreciate their support!

Ok. We are here. Portland. And it's time to figure out what this next part of our Oregon trip holds. I'd been to Portland once, before, and really loved it, at least the one street I explored in 16 hours! This time, the only bits we had figured out were a few things we hoped to do, like...

1. Walking and public transit: TRI-MET!
2. Visit Collage.
3. Get to Powell's.
4. See gardens, houses, trees, art, and make discoveries.
5. Play Pokémon Go.
oh, and...
6. Casually happen to run into any of our favorite PDX area bloggers, but that never really panned out, because, you know... aggressively friendly B-grade blogger fandom is weirdish.

Well, Steve? What do you think? What would a Native Portlander do, late in the afternoon of a very hot day, with no car, and little or no clue?

Get out there, and walk?

Alright, then!

I fell in love with about every other house we saw, Maria did, too.

If we weren't falling in love with a beautiful house, we were awestruck by trees, flowers, sidewalks, driveways, leaves, pinecones, moss, canopies, and berries.

There are two things that make traveling interesting, memorable: Finding new things, enjoying novel experiences, and discovering the most familiar and near-to-home connections, or meeting people with near-to-home connections! It's true! Right? Haven't you been far away and met someone that knows your town, or has a brother that went to your school? That feeling of random connectedness, of familiarity, is delightful. Silly, but just really delightful!

Well, we loved coming across our first Little Free Library, just like ours at home! And it also happens to be a Poké stop! Are you wondering, "Why Pokémon? Why a phone app game when you're on vacation, traveling in a new city?" I hope you aren't thinking it's a bad idea, or a waste of time. We happen to be a gaming family... that is, Geoff's career is in game development, and I could, but won't, expound on the virtues and merits of appreciating game theory, programming, interactive play, digital graphics, play strategy, game skill adaptation, deductive reasoning, social engagement, map reading, orienteering, entertainment, and outdoor physical activity. Pokémon Go is kind of a groovy way of getting to know a new area, yup. We followed the Poké map to Laurelhurst Park, and found beautiful sights all along the way!

Historic home... and another Poké stop!

Did you know, Poké stops (places where players can collect game pieces) were created by using Google Maps, and the photos that visitors had uploaded to that application? Any place that someone may have taken and shared a picture, could be a Poké stop, so it creates a fairly reliable source of noteworthy places of interest to visit.

We made it! Laurelhurst Park! Love those shade trees! The pond, the happy gatherings for birthdays, a wedding, the other game players, cyclists, dogs.

This was the visit when we stopped to build a fairy house. It's also about the time I started collecting the whole forest! Without literally clear-cutting, or endangering any species, I picked up sticks, acorns, moss, lichen, bark... any odd pieces from gutters and sidewalks, until it began to look as though I really did intend to bring home a forest. Oh, gee, I wish I could have brought home a forest.

Let's walk, shall we?

This. I... well, I've grown accustomed to my peculiar subjects, including taking pictures of sticks and sidewalks, but driveways? I have at least three, maybe four, driveway photographs. But look at this thing! It's awesome! I've never seen one like it. It's clever and unique, and I am proud of myself for resisting the urge to walk up and down it. And also a bit disappointed... I think I should have walked up and down this driveway staircase.

Did we get carried away? Yes, a bit. We thought we might find dinner at the Laurelhurst Market, but when we got to that corner, I realized we were too casually attired and a bit travel funky... it wasn't looking like a good match. We were kind of far off course, so we opened up the map, and charted another course... things looked promising if we turned east on Burnside Street. Another concern, besides the heat, the setting sun, our appetites, and being far from Steve, was the disorienting, unsettling sensation that comes from being in unfamiliar territory, doubting my internal compass, being unsure what kind of neighborhood we were headed toward, and worst of all: A dying cell phone battery!!! (Alright, I admit, not everything about the Pokémon Go app is peachy! That thing is a power sucker!) Maria taught me how to dim the brightness, and we closed down our apps to conserve energy on the phone. As for conserving our own energy? Nothing for that! We kept walking, and sweating. But also talking, and laughing, and being awestruck by nature and beauty and the sidewalks, driveways, and pinecones. Then we saw an oasis!

Dear Laurelhurst Cafe, thank you for being open, for having cold apple juice, and an inviting and comfortable spot for us to sit and catch our breaths, gather our thoughts. Thank you, oh so very much, for having an outlet for our phone charger. Yes, a special lot of thanks for that. We probably didn't say much. We may have looked flushed and turned around. But you made us feel welcome, in spite of our selves, and we really appreciate you for that.

We had already finished off the water we were carrying around with us, and I just know the apple juices saved, at least, one of us from passing out in a heat faint! While the phone charged, I could study the map, again, and figure out a direct-ish way back to Steve, our bed, rest, and the prospect of having our fruit and milk for dinner.

North on SE 47th, to Gilsan. Left. Then north, again, to NE 47th... zig, zag, zig... This was looking promising.

Still pretty houses, and other lovely views. We were revived, but a bit weary, yet. With more power on the phone battery, we opened up Pokémon Go, for kicks, and it literally led us to our next oasis!

A is for American Dream Pizza. A is for art, and appetites, and ahhhhh!

It was irresistible. Good pizza has a way of announcing itself... like when it smells so amazing, you have to walk in and order it, on the spot! We found our dinner, even if we were only minutes away from sunset and still a long way from our final destination!

And while our pizza cooked, we drank lots of water, and gazed at pizza box art. Pizza box art is pretty flippin' cool, by the way. Portland has this kind of magical way of being so... so Portland!

Pointing ourselves west, then north, then west, then north, then west, and motivated by the heavenly fragrance and promise of a delicious dinner, we found our way back to our Portland home.

The sun had set. Homes were lit, glowing invitingly in the dusk. And we pressed on.

And we parked ourselves on the steps up to Steve's house, and dined happily on basil, pineapple, cheese pizza with fresh tomatoes. Maria's choice. It was fantastic.

Cheers to a good first day in Portland!

Oh, and one more thing! American Dream Pizza was a Pokémon Gym... that's where teams do virtual battle. Maria entered her first Pokémon as a defender of the gym held by Team Mystic! Primeape didn't have a big CP, but she was thrilled to get this space in the game, and to her delight, Primeape hung in there for over twenty-four hours, which meant she earned coins and stardust! Nice.