Category Archives: Play

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.

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Patty-cake (with cats)

Patty-cake: n. a traditional American rhyming-clapping game an adult plays with a baby, to the usual delight or both.

Here’s a hilarious new twist on Patty-cake. Two cats play, voiced-over.

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:

icepile

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.

Paper and pooties don’t mix

Paper: n. a felted sheet of (usually) vegetable fibers laid down on a fine screen from a water suspension

Pootie: n. slang name for cute pets, cats especially

In this case, the paper is of the soft fluffy variety used to wipe your butt, or when tissue is unavailable, a runny nose.

There’s a lot to say about toilet paper – and recently the New York Times did a long article about how environmentally UNfriendly the toilet paper most Americans use is – and to suggest that recycled toilet paper is the way to go.

But I’m speaking only peripherally about sustainability – the sustainability of using soft fluffy rolls of paper in my house at all.

It’s about my cat, Bama.

First he discovered paper towels and chewed his way through a couple of rolls before I hid it in the kitchen cupboard and put out extra cloth towels. Thwarted, he moved into the bathroom.

I was almost asleep a few nights ago when I heard a strange sound coming from the direction of the bathroom, which I can’t begin to describe, but since I knew I was the only one at home it was very alarming.

This is what I saw when I opened the door:

"Oh, hi!"

"Oh, hi!"

"Excuse me, I've got an itch... are you upset or something?"

"Excuse me, I've got an itch... are you upset or something?"

I left the room to replace my camera battery and caught this…

“Not quite as exciting as a mousie, but I’ll pretend…” "Not quite as exciting as a mousie, but I'll pretend..."
"My precious..."

"My precious..."

There are all sorts of videos on YouTube of this phenomenon (search for “cats and toilet paper”) but the one I’d like to direct Bama’s attention to is this one, where the cat has learned to poop in the toilet first. Having just changed yet another stinky litterbox I’m all for toilet training. All I need is time and PATIENCE…

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

Pokéman, Pickachu and Pupitar

Pokémon: n. a multi-billion dollar media franchise owned by Nintendo but started by Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri. Pokémon took the youth world by storm in 1995 and shows no signs of slowing down. The franchise includes video games, playing/trading cards, movies, books and much more based on 493 anime characters.

pikachuPikachu: n. a yellow electric mouse who is considered the official mascot of the Pokémon world. Pikachu has the ability to store and release electricity in its cheeks.

pupitarPupitar: n. Pupitar looks like a short bumblebee with two short pointy legs. He has a mask and three spikes of hair on his head.

My grandsons live a thousand miles away. One way we could keep connected is by talking on the phone. My daughter passes the phone to them, I ask questions or say silly things but until last week I rarely got more out of either one than giggles, bathroom noises and sounds of protest.  (They’re only 4 and 7, so my expectations were low – their mother and uncles were no better at those young ages.)

However last week, the annual Washington Post word redefinition contest was brought to my attention (very punny!) and one of the redefined words was Pokémon. Some samples:

Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

Pokémon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

Remembering our Christmas together, when the little ones sucked their uncles into becoming Pokéman players, and remembering that Pikachu and Pupitar were P-characters with evocative names, I decided I should write a Pokémon P-post. So I called my young expert, Alexander, for details.

WOW. He talked my ear off for half an hour. “Are you writing this down, Grandma? Do you want me to spell “Pupitar” for you?”  Among other things, I learned that:

“Pupitar is a hard-shelled rock-ground type of Pokémon, and that by building up gas in his body he can shoot himself like a rocket [giggles]. He expels the gas from his butt. This is how he attacks:  bite, leer, sandstorm, screech, rockslide, scary face, thrash, dark pulse, payback, crunch, earthquake, stone edge, hyper beam.”

Leer? Alexander did not know what “leer” meant, but he said quite a few Pokemon characters attack by leering.

Now here’s the question… how would you redefine the words Pickachu and Pupitar?

Here’s a shot from Christmas – the uncles in an intense Pokémon battle. Alexander coaches from the sidelines.

Uncles play Pokemon with Alexander

Uncles play Pokemon with Alexander

Update: loyal reader Susan takes on the redefinition challenge:

Pickachu: deciding whether to buy Wrigley’s or Chiclets gum.