Thursday, April 06, 2017

6~ Rain and Shine Portland

The room with a view... the earliest hours of the day spent in bed, watching the rain and wind move through the trees.

Time playing tricks on me... who is this young lady?

Another pretty bus stop, another pretty clematis scene.

Either dry and goofy looking, or soaked and... goofy looking. Somethings are unavoidable, but we have our humor to help us cope.

Same bus stop, but seriously? Who gets bus stops this gorgeous. Just a street in a city, in the Pacific Northwest. Pinch me.

We tried to capture every green blossom for Junior Master Gardening mentor, Karen S.... aka Mrs Snacky.

Another Poetry Post and another bright idea we are eager to implement back home at the Bird House.

A playhouse fence?? Yes, I am scanning our yard for a fence to replace with this far more whimsical theme.

Aprons. In windows. You know me, Portland. You know me so well.

Porque, bonita.

Red roses, for Bambi.

Did I post this mural, before? I find a lot about Alberta Arts worth repeating. Even three times, or more.

Oh, good. It's still there.

Did I mention we like the oatmeal brûlé?

How about the croissants? Did I mention the croissants?

How about the arts? Surely, I mentioned how much we like the arts in Alberta Arts?

Something new... finally on this fourth attempt, we timed it right to go into this shop, Rutabaga Retail.

It was worth the wait, and worth seeing their selection of local artist's work.

This came home with us. No surprise. Put a bird on it flavor comes home to the Bird House. It's meant to be, right?

Also meant to be, a drop in at Collage. Actually, we went to Division, and Alberta, for double the crafting fun.

And we are still walking... are you with us?

Ok... cool beans at Green Bean Books, because we got to look into the magic of the Fing-O-Matic!

Book store and maker magic mash-up!

Diorama and book magic.

Bunny magic.

So, after a while I just started raising my fist in the air, and dramatically declaring, "Portland, I regret that I have but one stomach to give to you!" Because, food. Really good, really beautiful, really tasty, healthful, appetizing, interesting, appealing food, everywhere. Honestly, our entire Potlandia travel itinerary was Walk and Eat. Repeat. And still there was only so much we could consume.

Next time, I will reserve a meal for the Bollywood Theater, because it looked amazing.

At least we could quench our thirst with mango lassi.

This deserves at least two more angles, to show all of it, but the sun was not cooperating. See? This is why I am already imagining the next visit, so I can try again to capture all of Portland, rain or shine.

Here is a place that deserves a second, and third visit... Hippo Hardware. A whole other bus ride and walk from Alberta Arts. A whole other world in retail! They have it all for the home improvement, thrifty-DIY-maker crowds.

And even after Alberta Arts, and Hippo Hardware, we were up and out, ready for another explore.

Ready for another Lebanese dinner, like we enjoyed the first night.

We came back to our nest with two pieces of baklava, and Maria turned our little dessert into a beautiful scene, making another day finish sweetly, completely.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

5~ Portlandia

Portland could almost be a cliche, too hip, overly whimsical, and it wouldn't be hard to describe Portland in terms of being stereotypically funky, a maxim about unorthodox art and culture, but those would be pointless, shallow platitudes. Portland is weird, but I don't think you can stop there, or depend on the city to be inevitably strange. Saying Portland is "strange" is unimaginative, without feeling, and I would be failing to pay proper tribute to the warmth, sincerity, the inventive melding of old and new, fresh and traditional, profoundly beautiful and achingly ugly. At times, during our brief explore, there was a tense strain, the dis-ease with standing amidst homelessness, tragic figures who recall headlines and memes about urban decay, addiction, and you cannot unsee the refuse, litter, crumbling walls, broken sidewalks, the tired bits. But, as Maria and I both exclaimed in breathless wonder, "Even the dandelions are more beautiful in Portland!" Moss grows and softens hard edges, art colors worn surfaces, people stop and take notice, make warm overtures of welcome, acceptance. Portland is honest, open, like a host that takes in all the guests, before dusting every corner, or counting the teacups... as though the expectation is that everything will come out fine in the end, there will be enough, if we just come together, make room, share. No pretense. No apologies. Portland is genuine, not just about beauty, success, the polish of staged and glossy representations, tourist attractions, but about all of life, the messy bits, too.

When we came off the train, eager to get our Portland visit underway, we dragged our luggage and our vague, confused understanding of the bus system to a promising corner, where we were confronted with a hostile and confrontative man, troubled by his own thoughts, or some substance. That was stressful, disorienting, and so it's no wonder that when we finally hauled ourselves into the bus, we forgot to pay the fare. No one said a thing. The bus was packed... literally standing room only, and at every stop, we were like a puzzle with one missing square so that every piece had to be shifted around to let someone off, let more people board. It's not possible to be unobtrusive with three suitcases, wearing large coats, backpacks, standing through rush hour traffic with miles to travel, along unfamiliar roads. One woman muttered a grievance about our thorny predicament, not sympathetically. But everywhere else were kind expressions, understanding nods, solicitude. Slowly, the traffic relented, seats freed up, and I could breath a bit easier, and from the bus driver? Nothing. Had he noticed? Would he admonish us, bark a harsh rebuke? Geoff and I were able to whisper an exchange, a plan to pay before stepping off, apologizing for the oversight of taking a free ride. At the corner, about 24th and Knott, we gathered our lot, assured Maria that everything is fine, we're almost there, and then we tumbled onto the sidewalk... Geoff ran up to the driver's door, with our fare. The driver waved casually, "Pay at the next bus." No judgement, no recrimination, as though the expectation is that everything will come out fine in the end, there will be enough, if we just come together, make room, share. And it did... on our last bus ride out, I paid a double fare, gladly. It was weird, those bus rides, uncomfortable moments, and beautiful exchanges, but it was always honest, and I like that... the forthright integrity, the candidness. We are all going somewhere, what good is it to make it any harder for anyone to get there?

I cannot be sure whether we were in time for the peak of spring and blossoms, or if things were waning, or barely beginning. It doesn't matter. We arrived in Portland in time to see trees, like this, full of open, and closed blossoms. Full of buds, leaves unfurling, lichens and moss. The camellias were unreal... like storybook illustrations of ideal flowers, flawless, dazzling. We met tulips, Muscari, and countless flowers I do not know the names of, which is a treat. I've mentioned all of this before, I am sure, but I should repeat it, now, and again, later, because then you will have some sense of what it was like to walk for miles, and see them, again and again. Grape hyacinth spilling over borders, tulips standing pertly in rows, and clumps, camellias pink, white, red. Clematis, pale yellow, pale pink, cascading over walls and gates. White flowers in trees in such full bloom, such quantities, that nothing could contain them, describe them, comprehend them, so we only stood beneath them and tried to understand, and smiled at our lack of ability.

We walked.

We were inspired. And amused, and delighted.

We discovered oatmeal brûlée, with fresh blueberries buried at the bottom. And oatmeal will forevermore be compared with that oatmeal. That wonderful Petite Provence oatmeal.

We found treasures all along SE Division...

Upstairs Basement, Quality Surplus.

Village Merchants, Delightful Resale.

Pink Martini's Je Dis Oui!

Salt & Straw... where we sampled Sea Salt w/ Caramel Ribbons, Honey Lavender, Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Coffee, Strawberry Honey Balsamic w/ Black Pepper, and Freckled Woodblock Chocolate.

And by the way, the honey lavender tastes like the best day in your favorite garden where you are gathering long blossoming stems of sun warmed lavender, and you feel as though nature wants you to live there for an endless summer.

Even the dandelions are more beautiful in Portland!

Weird, welcoming, not predictable, yet comfortably familiar, often amusing, Portland.

We finally got a handle on Trimet, and made for Powell's City of Books.

Any guidebook will tell you, and I've tried to describe it, too, but really, you simply must go and see for yourself... Powell's is every bit worth a bus ride, a train trip, a long walk.

It's practically cliche to say so, but, we stayed for hours.

With Infinity More Monkeys, a picture a day.