Category Archives: Place and places

Where are you? Where is home?

Persecution: a chilling reminder of the Holocaust

Persecution: noun. Hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race, political or religious beliefs

Today I hiked up to Portland’s amazing Japanese Garden. Close by is the small but extremely poignant memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.

Almost 25 million civilians perished in Europe in World War II, almost 6 million Jews and millions of others [homosexuals, liberals and intellectuals, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, labor leaders, etc.] fell victim to racial hatred and premeditated murder carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators…  Hitler blamed these people for the country’s post- WWI woes and promised stability.

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At the memorial are bronze castings of the things that the men, women and children had to leave behind as they fled for their lives (only to die of starvation or gassing soon after). A doll, a broken violin, a book, a boot and some spectacles, a teddy bear.

These were people who lived and loved, worked and played, just like you and me. Am I being melodramatic? Maybe. But enough hate has been unleashed since the election of DT that we see America’s underbelly. The man himself is a narcissist and sociopath with zero compassion for others. Nor do the people he wants to appoint instill any faith in me.

Someone named Elliott Lustzig wrote about Hannah Arendt’s book on the rise of totalitarianism what  a couple of days ago:

Decent liberals in of 1930s Germany would “fact-check” the Nazis’ bizarre claims about Jews, as if they were meant to be factual. What they failed to understand, she suggests, is that the Nazi’s Jew-hating statements were not statements of fact, but declarations of intent. So when someone would blame the Jews for Germany’s defeat in WWI, naive people would counter by saying there’s no evidence of that.

What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was *true*, but what would *have to be true* to justify what they planned to do next. 

Did 3 million “illegals” cast votes in this election? Clearly not. But fact-checking is just a way of playing along with their game. So… Trump may be saying that 3 million illegals voted, but what he means is: I’m going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans.

This has already happened in several GOP-led states where they’ve used voter ID laws, restricted voting sites and restricted voting hours, to make it very difficult for minorities, immigrants, students and the poor to vote.

Fact-checkers are exhausted trying to keep up with the blizzard of lies coming from Trump and his representatives. And they don’t give a fuck.

Yeah. I’m upset.

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Les petites palmiers – treat from Trader Joe’s

Petite: adj. French word for small

Palmier: n. a crunchy, buttery, slightly sweet multi-layered French pastry

Deux petites palmiers et un rose

Deux petites palmiers et un rose

I am addicted to these little pastries.  Although they’re wonderful with coffee, I prefer something more healthful for breakfast. So I have one (two? they’re small…) for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of Earl Gray tea.

TJ’s sells them in a box of ten (twelve?), and they stay fresh for at least a week – maybe more – but they don’t last long enough around here to test that hypothesis.  Fortunately for my waistline, TJ’s is all the way on the other side of town, so I only get over there occasionally.

In the regular grocery store I never buy prepared foods because I do a much better, healthier and safer job of cooking from scratch. But I always find myself succumbing to TJs treats.  Have you had their cashews coasted with a spicy Thai lime seasoning??  Their little cookies … like the triple ginger, or the lemon wafers. They have the best canned tuna anywhere (in olive oil). Don’t get me started.

I always leave TJs happy, feeling like I’ve been on a great hunting expedition and scored!  This guy’s illicit TJs video “commercial” pretty much says it all:

Panorama of paradise: Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge

Panorama: n a complete or unobstructed view of a wide area

Paradise: n. a place or state of bliss, felicity or delight

Eat your heart out. This is where I was on Saturday:

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

The Dog Mountain trail is one of the very most beloved in all the Gorge – particularly when the wildflowers are at their peak, which was this week.

Everybody and their brother (and some of their dogs and kids too) were on the mountain, but rather than seeming crowded, it was like a jolly meetup. Everyone greeting each other, encouraging each other, sympathizing with each other.  The encouragement and sympathy gush forth because it’s a dog of a hike.  Pretty much unrelentingly UP – like 3000′ in 3 miles.

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Most people use hiking poles (land version of ski poles) to take some of the burden off the thighs and knees, and on the way down to brace you lest you slip on little rocks.

Any excuse to stop is a good excuse. Water, photograph, shoelace adjustment…

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

It was a glorious sunny day and you could see way down the river both east and west. At the top you could also see Mt. Hood poking up behind the Oregon palisades, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier off the back sides of the mountain.

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

We got to the top around noon, and joined a happy throng having lunch and savoring the opportunity to sit. Problem was… how to get up again.

About half way down my legs got so shaky I was afraid they’d just give way, so I stopped often to admire the flowers:

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Truly the Gorge is one of the most awesome places in the world, and this hike on this lovely day was something I’ll never forget. My quadriceps won’t either.

Peacock picnic in the Columbia River Gorge

Peacock: n. the national bird of India, related to the pheasant. The male peafowl, or peacock, has long been valued for its brilliant tail feathers. The bright spots on it are known as “eyes”, and inspired the Greek myth that Hera placed the hundred eyes of her slain giant Argus on the tail of her favorite bird.

Picnic: n. a pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors

Peacock's personal table

Peacock's personal table

I spent the entire day exploring the spectacular Columbia River Gorge with four friends. We left the gray weather behind in Vancouver and drove 100 miles east to the the Maryhill Museum of Art.

This former mansion of tycoon Sam Hill was built in 1907  on a hilltop overlooking the Gorge near Goldendale, WA. He bought 5300 acres of land there in the hope of establishing a Quaker community, but it never really caught on.  His buddies – the avant garde dancer Loie Fuller and Queen Marie of Roumania – convinced him instead to convert the place into a museum.

Fuller was friends with Auguste Rodin, so there is a sizeable collection of Rodin sculptures and sketches. His collection of Indian basketry is impressive, and other exhibits come thru regularly.

I was taken by the gorgeous gilt furnishings from Queen Marie:

Queen Marie's throne

Queen Marie's throne

Queen Marie's table

Queen Marie's table

But I digress. After museuming we went outside for our picnic with the peacocks.

I couldn’t get over the stunning colors… like jewels. In one direction the tail looks coppery, in another green, in another silver.

Peacock's back

Peacock's back

Tail - silvery angle

Tail - silvery angle

Our next stop was the replica Sam Hill built of StoneHenge, to honor local soldiers who died in World War I.

Center area of Sam Hill's Stonehenge

Center area of Sam Hill's Stonehenge

Columbia River from Stonehenge

Columbia River from Stonehenge

The Gorge isn’t as steep near Maryhill as it is closer to Portland, where the east side of the Columbia boasts some wonderful waterfalls. We stopped and hiked up one, gawked at others from below.  So much beauty on all sides!!

I think the Gorge is one of America’s most awesome scenic treasures. It’s 80 miles long and in some places the walls rise 4000 feet!

Pure pleasure: artist’s date at Tacoma Museum of Glass

Pure: adj. being thus and no other; unmixed with any tainting substance

Pleasure: n. a state of gratification; a source of delight and joy

Part of ceiling on Glass Bridge by Dale Chihualy

Part of ceiling on Glass Bridge by Dale Chihuly

To celebrate my birthday, my best friend took me up to Tacoma on Friday for an “artist’s date,” a concept introduced by Julia Cameron in her best-seller, The Artist’s Way.

An artist’s date is when you take time out from your ordinary life and usual artistic pursuits to do expose yourself to or participate in some other creative endeavor for the sheer pleasure of it.

An artist’s date can be as simple as dumping your button collection onto a table and playing with them. If you’re a writer, you could go into the yard and attempt to sketch a flower. If you’re an artist you could immerse yourself in a book of poetry.

Or it could be a real museum outing, as Judi and I  did Friday.

Tacoma is a two hour drive from here.  To get to the Museum from the parking lot, you cross over the highway on the magical Bridge of Glass, designed by the wildly creative glass artist Dale Chihuly.

On one side of the enclosed mid-section is a wall of crazy “vases”.  The roof  looks like someone dumped the three-dimensional phantasmagorical contents of a dozen super-sized kaleidoscopes onto a glass plate above you.

The glass pieces vary in size from balls about 4″ in diameter to trumpet shapes 3′ long and scalloped “flowers” 2′-4′ across.  The shimmering backlit shapes of brilliant colors can only be called ecstatic art. I could have permanently cricked my neck taking it all in.

Here is some more:

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Chihualy ceiling closer view

Chihuly ceiling closer view

Here’s a portion of  the side wall:

A family in front of the wall of Chihualy "vases"

A family in front of the wall of Chihuly "vases"

Looking up at one of the two glass spires on first part of the Bridge. The chunks are BIG, like 2-3′ across:

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Here’s a Chihuly chandelier:

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The museum has much more than Chihuly, including a huge glass-blowing shop, where you can watch art glass being blown. There’s a terrific exhibit about describing glass art, beyond “I like it; I don’t like it” but you can’t take photos inside. (This exhibit closes in November; worth the trip if you live close enough.)

This is a museum for kids of all ages, and it’s in a part of town with two other fine museums, the handsome U. Washington Tacoma campus, the refurbished train station (now courthouse) with an enormous arched window with orange Chihuly “poppies” floating across it.

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Closeup of Chihualy poppy window

Closeup of Chihuly poppy window

Can you tell I LOVED this place???

And PS – we ate lunch in the museum cafe: YUMMMMMMY.

Portfolio of Port Park Pictures – Picnic at Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

Portfolio: n. a set of pictures; a selection of a student’s work

Port: n. a place where ships can take on or deliver cargo; a harbor

Park: n. a piece of ground in or near a city or town kept for ornament and recreation

Picture: n. a transitory visible image or reproduction; a photograph

Picnic: n. an outing with food usually provided by members of the group and eaten outside

Peaceful: San Francisco from the Port of Oakland

Peaceful: San Francisco from the Port of Oakland

I am back at home after five lovely days visiting my kids and grandkids in Oakland, California. I could have been in Portland, for the gray skies and rain we had, but Saturday the sun came out and we took off for a picnic at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, which I believe is Oakland’s newest and as yet still undiscovered park.

OMiGod, what a fabulous place – especially for young un’s learning to ride bikes and needing safe wide-open trails – and parents wanting fresh air, natural beauty, and a novel perspective. More than two miles of pathways encircle and crisscross the edges of the Middle Harbor Basin and acres of rolling grass fields ask for games of frisbee, catch, or flying kites.  It’s like having a front row seat on the San Francisco Bay – you can poke around the beach while watching boats and barges  or you can lift your gaze to the spectacles of the Bay Bridge and the city of San Francisco. Look behind you and watch the seemingly robotic operations of a busy international trade hub.

This 38-acre park opened in 2004 as a joint venture between the Port of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Park District. Originally it was the Oakland Naval Supply Depot, an important part of the WWII war effort.   Extensive community involvement went into the park’s planning and development, with the goals of creating a place  for learning about local history, ecology and maritime activities.  Here are some more pictures:

Port "ponies"

Port "ponies"

Picnic Tables

Picnic Tables

Picnic: pretzels, salami and Nadja's oranges

Picnic: pretzels, salami and Nadja's oranges

Perfect paths for pedaling

Perfect paths for pedaling


Pedal-pushing Mama Poppies and pine tree

Poppies and pine tree

Palm trees (native??)

Palm trees (native??)

Palm trunk patterns

Palm trunk patterns

Poking thru the dirt: signs of spring

Poke: v. to pierce, jab or cause to project

The temperature has been hovering around 32 degrees for more than a week, and it’s that damp chill that makes you want to stay indoors with a cup of hot chocolate. (Shouldn’t have written that… it’s giving me a hankerin’.)

But aside from getting the sludge out of your veins, it pays to take a walk in late January. We’ll start with my own yard. Daffodils beginning to poke thru the dirt:

daffodils poking up

Then on this morning’s walk at Salmon Creek I noticed the hazelnut catkins were emerging:
catkins

And here the late afternoon sun shines through the Douglas firs in Whipple Creek Park:
Whipple Creek Park

“How can I keep from singing…”