Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Weird Portland Wednesday: The Green Green Parks of Home

I love parks with green grass flowing within banks of paths, with trees spreading their umbrellas of shade. Parks with sounds of children laughing, squealing with delight on swings and slides and fun. I love parks with trails that meander throughout the trees and bushes, leaving me thoughtful and content.

Portland has probably the most parks in the lower 48 with at least 279 parks and natural areas. We have one of the largest parks with Forest Park's nearly 7000 acres as well as the smallest park in the world: Mill Ends Park. Rated the smallest park by the Guinness Book of World Records, Mill Ends is about two feet in circumference. Like many of Portland's parks, there are often protests held there. 

One of the most beautiful parks in Portland is also one of my favorites: Cathedral Park. It sits under the enchanting St Johns Bridge, which is a suspension bridge from the Art Deco era. I was married under this bridge, a barefooted bride with daisies in my hair. My fella and sons and Doug's stepson wore Hawaiian shirts. Along with the sprinklers and the train and other chaos-makers during the ceremony, it was a splendid day.

And the park. The park is magnificent. It's not that large, just a bit over 21 acres, but it quietly says, "Peace" at every turn. The opening of the park has some lovely concrete steps out onto a circular platform and the park gently sweeps from there. Standing on the platform (which is where we held our wedding) looking out toward the Willamette River, you have a view of the cathedral pillars holding the bridge.

This park site is quite historical, as well as beautiful.  It is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area: William Clark and eight men camped there on April 2, 1806. It has also been a fishing and camping site for local Indian tribes. In 1847 the founder of St. Johns, James John, trapped and hunted on the site and operated a ferry to the fishing town of Linnton across the Willamette River. 

Apparently Cathedral Park is the one number historical landmark of Portland that is most often posted on Instagram.  The TV series, Leverage, was filmed in Portland and would use the park for many outdoor shoots. The television program, The Librarian, used the park as it's headquarters. Their library lair, or annex, was located at the base of the bridge.

The park, which was built in 1980, is home to many festivals and events. The year we were married, the Hood-to-Coast biking event was stopping at the park for a breather that weekend. This is why we were married on Friday rather than the expected Saturday. The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, which started in 1981, is the oldest and largest free jazz and blues event west of the Mississippi. 

Cathedral Park, sitting beautifully under the St Johns Bridge, is one more way we keep Portland (happily) weird.

Friday, October 09, 2020

The More Things Change...

We are over eight months into the Coronavirus pandemic here in the United States, almost a year worldwide. So far, over one million people have died, with 214,000+ of them within in the United States--the largest number of deaths from one area. Brazil is the second largest group with over 150,000. And the numbers are rising most places daily.

Our lives have changed drastically. In our house, we have been staying-in-place since mid-March. My fella has been working from home. We go out only for essentials, like groceries and fabric (it's an essential, right?).  Fortunately we like to hang around with one another because we are together 24/7.

Faces of some of the 200,000 plus deaths in the US
Oregon does not have high numbers of cases compared to some states like California and New York, but most of our counties are are still under Phase One. Our governor is being very cautious in opening up the state. So far we have had 600 deaths from over 35,000 cases. While we are one of the lowest states in the nation, our numbers are starting to spike again mostly due to Labor Day celebrations and college parties.

Even with Phase One opening up restaurants and hair dressers and other shops, Doug and I are hesitant to jump out into the world too fast. A hair cut for me is not essential, so I am easily living with COVID-hair. Because of my neuropathy, I can't cut my toenails (I end up cutting my toes!). I finally broke down and had a pedicure. 

We make most our meals on the stove at home, with the once-in-a-while dinner brought home from pre-ordered food. We are not interested in trying to eat in a restaurant--not essential. I miss traveling around but I am making it through okay. Grocery shopping is every Friday morning at 7 am (a time originally designated for old people and people with disability). And the big WOW every Friday on the way home: Starbucks. 

The safety measures to get around have changed. I believe in them. I've been to the dentist three times since they have reopened. I'm not adverse to having my temperature taken nor questions asked about my health. I have no problem wearing a mask. I've been making some that are cute and fun. My kids and family are well-stocked in masks.

And today the big return to another universe is that I invited my house cleaner to come into the house and clean. Yes, it became essential. I used to think I kept a pretty good house. Apparently only because she came here and did it :)  She's wearing a mask and gloves and spraying disinfectant everywhere. We were going to be gone for the day but my fella had to work on a last-minute project. So we stayed away and let her do her thing. I sewed. My fella worked. It worked out okay.

While everything is upside down and backwards. While we have to think more to move around in order to fix problems. While we are careful and take care of one another. While all this is going on, we have some normal stuff in there as well. We still brush our teeth and bathe, make the bed, and feed the pets. We still keep the yard up. My fella still plays music. I still sew. But while we are doing these normal things, we are kind of doing them differently. 

Stay safe
Take care of yourself and your neighbors

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Turn Around Bright Eyes

When you are in a pandemic and have lots of extra time that is not being taken up with lunches with friends and running errands, you have lots of open time to think about things. You know, things like how to raise goats, why people won't wear masks, what's it like to walk on the moss in Ireland. You know. Thinking things. In that, I was thinking about the few times I have actually had a broken heart. 

A wonderful friend of mine's marriage just broke up. He and I have been talking for long periods of time about his relationship and his feelings. His fears and his depression. He has been very hard on himself. I remember that behavior.

In my 70 years, 25 of them between marriages, I've had many loves and lots of break-ups. I was recently reading my past diaries--I kept a diary from a year following my divorce in 1976 through the 1990s when I met my partner. As I was reading, I'd come across a name of someone I dated and wonder who the hell was that person. Mostly I'd smile at the antics--25-30 years gives you perspective. But I was also reminded of the few who left me with a broken heart.

Heartbreak really really sucks. I know it is a part of being human, experiencing life, but it really sucks. There is a wonderful article from Queensland Health, The Science Behind a Broken Heart that takes you behind the scenes of heartbreak (March, 2019- It says, "Studies show that your brain registers the emotional pain of heartbreak in the same way as physical pain, which is why you might feel like your heartbreak is causing actual physical hurt." Some of the natural hormones your body produces can be lowered, which causes stress hormones to increase that bring on your fight-or-flight response. Unbalanced hormones can then contribute to anxiety, nausea, acne and weight gain. Heartbreak stuff.

So yeah. I've experienced heartbreak. We all have. Once in high school I had my heart broken. At 16, it is a forever angst sentence, isn't it? But, also at 16, it is a bit easier to get over. I fell in love again in my late 20s, early 30s. That heartbreak took me much longer to recover. I didn't date for a couple years following that break up. It brought on a depression that nearly wiped me out. But it didn't :) And then I had my heart broken again in my 40s. Those Internet loves can be intense.

Break up songs. So many break up songs. Songs that seem written just for you. I was long past the acute heartache and pain of my 20s heartbreak when I heard piano keys and then Bonnie Tyler sing "Turn around" ( It knocked the wind out of me and zoomed me once again into a total eclipse of my heart. I have always loved a solid blues beat but at that time came to really understand how the blues can fill you up. Music is comfort to your soul.

Obviously my style is to write about it. I use writing as something to get things out in the open, out of my head. When I was working on my relationship with my mom, I would write her letters that poured out every teeny tiny hurt she had ever caused me. Then I would read them the next day and shred them. When I quilt smoking, I wrote about it. It really helped me pull things out of my head and toss them away. In my diary, I once wrote, "I must be really sick. I reread these words to remember this pain. The pain is better than feeling nothing."

Funny that my divorce didn't cause me heartbreak. Perhaps because I was so glad to not be married to that man any longer. Unfortunately, he can still cause me heartache, but not for me; heartache for my sons. He keeps hurting them and in their own ways, they still keep trying to make some connection to him. So, never heartbreak. Mostly still, after 43 years, anger at this uncaring man.

So yeah it's a heart ache. It is physical and emotional pain. Mostly you gotta mourn through it. Don't try to avoid it, but take your blanket over to the corner and curl up, suck your thumb, and eat ice cream. Write about how you feel. Listen to sad and loving songs. Try the blues. Make some changes. As a woman, I cut my hair :) The one thing I had control over. And when you've given yourself some time to mourn, think about what it was that attracted you to the other. They are undoubtedly traits and aspects that others have. Then look for those qualities in others.

Those are the types of things that I did. According to my diary, I eventually moved on. Dated some guys names Alan and Doug, both of whom I don't remember. While I still have a difficult time to moving on, I can work through it. Just yesterday my fella put the winter quilt on the bed. THE WINTER QUILT! I had to breathe deeply a few times, smile and walk away in order to realize it didn't matter. It's just a quilt and he likes this one best. I know...that I had to breathe, smile and walk away to get over it makes me laugh, too.

And that's what I did, too :)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Throwback Thursday: All for a Nickle and a Dime

I grew up outside of town in the county. Our house was on a dirt road that ended at the orange groves down aways. It really was the greatest place to live, with fields all around, Mr. Cooper's barn across the road, and orange groves. But when you live down in the boondocks, a trip to the grocery store is a big deal. But a trip to the five and dime...magic!

In the 1950s, they built a Sears and Roebucks up a few streets from us. That became the cornerstone for the Pomona Valley Center, the mall we always called "Sears." "Hey, I'm going up to Sears!" meant going to any store in the open-air mall. The mall had a drug store, a fabric store, and a clothing store. And J. J. Newberry's.

Sears was Dad's store. The fabric store and Long's Drugs was Mom's stores. And my store was J. J. Newberry's. What kid doesn't like a five and dime? I remember shopping at Christmas time for gifts. My sister and I both must have at least five dollars by Christmas, to spend at least one dollar on five people: Mom and Dad, Sister, and Gramma and Nanny.

Newberry's was the perfect store to find affordable cool gifts! My sister and I would walk up and down the aisles, Mom watching over us, as we searched for exactly the right gift for our five people. We'd finger all the little stuff in the center bins. We'd check out the toys. In the basement, we'd check out even more stuff. Newberry's was a child's dream come true.

As I grew older, Sears would become even more important. By the summer I was almost 13 years old, I could walk to the mall with a friend. To get there, we had to cross Mission Blvd (which was Route 60, a major road through the Inland Valley), walk aways to East End Ave, cross over the railroad tracks, and on up to Holt Blvd, another major route from Los Angeles-to-San Bernardino.  Actually we avoided going all the way to East End by crossing the fields to First Street, then over the railroad tracks. The lower mall parking entrance was well before Holt Blvd. So it was a great walk for your pre- and teen girls. We would laugh and giggle and wave and flirt with the drivers as we walked.

Newberry's had a record section. It is where I bought my first album, Teenage Triangle, with Jimmy Darren, Shelly Fabares, and Paul Peterson (on whom I had a massive celebrity crush). I bought tons of 45s--much more affordable than albums. Newberry's had lipstick and other make-up. I remember buying lipstick and keeping it in my purse because I wasn't old enough to wear make-up. Looking back, Mom had to know. I mean, my lips were pink :)

But the best part of Newberry's was the lunch counter. I mean c'mon! A lunch counter! You could buy stuff and then eat lunch! Amazing! 

So when my friend and I would walk to the mall, we each had to have at least 50 cents. This was needed because one of us would buy the cokes at the lunch counter (25 cents each) and the other would buy the pictures at the photo booth (50 cents for four pictures), which was conveniently located right there at the end of the lunch counter! A win-win situation! 

And then, after we looked through all the records, drank our cokes, and took our pictures, we would walk through to the mall itself and wander a bit. And then, we'd head home, retracing our steps back to East End, Mission, down Pipeline to my house. 

Ahhh life was good.  Lunch counters, photo machines, five and dimes, all together in one place. My own kids had malls to wander. Big under-cover malls that had bunches and bunches of stores to peek into. But, poor thangs, they didn't have a J. J. Newberry's with a lunch counter and a photo machine. I think their lives were a bit deprived. 

And so it goes

Monday, September 21, 2020


When I was a child, I loved spinning and then stopping to feel the dizziness. I loved rolling down grassy slopes. I loved merry-go-rounds. I really enjoyed the feeling of being a bit off-kilter.

Now let's spin forward to my forties and fifties. I would occasionally get vertigo and I still enjoyed the feeling of dizziness. I would hold onto something and move my head just to enjoy that feeling. I remember once when I was at school and vertigo came on. It was near time to head home and I was laughing and tipping my head while I held onto a colleagues wall. He wasn't amused and wanted to drive me home. Oh no! If I hold my head still, I'm fine. And drove home safely.

Now I am 70. Trust me, it doesn't feel as old as it sounds. But I woke in the night with vertigo. Still there in the morning. Walking through the bedroom was an, it was no, it was a bit unsettling! Yeah, that's it. It was a bit unsettling. I needed to hold onto the dresser and then the wall and then the doorway, touching the wall all the way to the shower. As I showered, I needed to hold my elbow against the shower wall. I have to admit, it was a little bit fun, but balance is always an issue as I am aging, so not as fun as rolling down a grassy slope.

Okay while I'm having a bit of fun with myself during my ancient years, I understand that some people suffer a great deal from vertigo. The spinning causes vomiting, headaches, disables them severely. I'm not making light of those who suffer greatly. I know that I am fortunate that this isn't me. Living Magazine describes the feeling well:

Imagine opening your eyes and the room appearing to be whirling around you like a tornado. Turning your head ever so slightly sends your world spinning, and even when lying still, there’s a moving sensation. Standing up and trying to walk sends you lurching to and fro as you attempt to maintain your balance. You feel nauseous, like you have motion sickness or the flu.

So, what is causing this? According to WebMed, "Vertigo is often caused by an inner ear problem."  There are a few common types of inner ear problems. There could be a build up of tiny calcium particles (canaliths) that clump up in your ear canals. It can occur for no known reason and it is thought it may be associated with age.  Yay.

There can be a buildup of fluid and changing pressure in the ear. It can cause episodes of vertigo along with ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Or, also more common, it can be an inner ear problem usually related to infection (usually viral). And then there's the less common reasons, like head injuries, stroke, migraines, medications. 

Sooooo, how do we tend to it? I mean if you are not like me and don't like this "tiltilating" experience, what do you do? That depends. In general, it usually goes away all by itself. This is because your brain is able to adapt, at least in part, to the inner ear changes, relying on other mechanisms to maintain balance. There is physical therapy that can help adjust. There are medications that can help. It all just depends.



Meanwhile, I am going to attempt walking downstairs to have some breakfast. See ya down below...


And so it goes