Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Travel RePort Re Portland. . .


First of all, thanks again to Eleonore for that delightful garden visit and the dramatic story that unfolded as she introduced us to it. I'm so pleased with the Garden Series -- when I proposed it, I wasn't sure that I'd find readers willing to open their garden gates for us, but Wendy, Ali, and Eleonore were so gracious, so generous, and I've another offer now for a future post. . . .So the series will continue!

Because I was on a blog break last week in Portland,  Oregon, I didn't take as many pictures as I might usually.  Last year's visit (scroll down past the top post to see the 2016 entries tagged "Portland") garnered many more photos, and I know I walked further afield then, but despite spending a good part of my idea enjoying the blessed quiet of our hotel room (such a contrast from the construction noise here at home!) -- knitting and reading and writing -- my cameraphone and I did snap a few impressions.

The architecture, of course, which I love about Portland. So much ornamentation of brick and stone and concrete, and the way it all interacted, last week, with a gorgeous cerulean September sky.
Portland abounds in public art, butI hadn't noticed, on previous visits, the sculptures that decorate the transit corridor along 6th Avenue -- based on the plaques I stopped to read, these (wrought mainly in metal or stone) are by artists from the Pacific Northwest and seem to date from the late 1970s through to the present. I especially loved Tom Hardy's Running Horses, which you can see in the top photograph. I posted several other views of the same sculpture on Instagram.
I must have noticed these water fountains on other visits, but I don't think I paid them much attention. Perhaps because the sun wasn't shining as much last January, and so the bubbling water didn't sparkle so enticingly to accentuate their elaborate shape.   Let Paris have its Wallace Fountains.  Portland has its Benson Bubblers -- candelabra-shaped fountains at which four can sip simultaneously, thus obviating line-ups -- so-called in honour of Simon Benson, the Portland businessman who commissioned and paid for them in 1912, some 40 years after Englishman Richard Wallace started installing his eponymous fountains throughout the City of Light.

I can't always justify the photos I took, but there was something here about that light, the rectilinear architecture contrasted with the tree's organic shape, all emphasized in the negative space of that blue sky. . .
I should have taken another photo of this one when I crossed the street, got closer so that you could see the trompe l'oeil /bas relief effect of the historic scene rendered on the side of this building. But I took this picture before I crossed the street to pick up Pater's glasses, forgotten at Higgins restaurant the night before. And when I came out with them, minutes later, I must have had the phone tucked away and not felt like pulling it out again to play tourist. But if you go . . . .(and by the way Higgins is a great place for dinner. We ended up going back a second time.)
Again, the photo below may not show you what I saw last week, but if you click to enlarge it, perhaps you'll see the colour story of the windows on that faded-foam-green building, the L it makes with the brick building behind it . . . and again, all that glorious blue. . . .

This mural . . . I'm still not sure, but it's at least arresting. Is that a tail? Of what? And who is that fellow whose bust emerges below and to the left of the tail . . .

Much of what I love about just wandering is the way it can stoke the creative juices, and Portland is a very good city for that. The beautiful lettering on this window, for example, reads "She Flies With Her Own Wings."  . . . .


Here, it's the "ghost sign" advertising Home Furnishings, but also the clean, sturdy functionality of the brick building, its fire escape descending geometrically on the left, but also the strong orange graphic at the sidewalk level. . .

And a few blocks away, thinking about whether or not to go back and buy the shoes I'd tried on, I spotted more orange graphics -- lettering again, more creative inspiration, this time in words by artist Bruce Nauman,  "The True Artist Is an Amazingly Luminous Fountain" I love everything about this, the colours of background and text, the font, and the way that precise, sharp lettering contrasts the gritty, industrial patina of the wood and concrete below -- those stairs. . . .

I have more, you're probably not surprised to know. I found a little corner not far from here, with the most beautiful salvaged columns, and I'll share those with you soon. (If you're impatient, you can check out the photo I posted on Instagram.) . . . 

Oh, and yes, I did go back for the shoes, after doing some math about the price differential above and below the border, and calculating whether that compensated for the horrendous exchange rate between our two dollars. . . . and whether the 7.5 would be a better fit than the 8, and whether these were really the shoe that would be my go-to for most occasions over the fall and winter. . . . Shall I show them to you soon as well?

If you've hung in this far, you might be chuckling about my statement above that I didn't take many photos of Portland because I was on a blogging break. I know, I'm a bit bemused as well. . . . 

16 comments:

  1. I was in Eugene, mulling a stopover in Portland, where a niece lives- had no idea you would be there!

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    1. I saw that on your blog last Tuesday, but didn't suggest connecting as I knew you were attending your brother's funeral. Still, so close. . .

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  2. What glorious blue skies hovered over you during your Portland visit. I've only been there once and enjoyed the old buildings downtown.
    Yes, do show the shoes!

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    1. It's a good city. . . and yes, you will see the shoes.

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  3. I am always stuck by how each of us can see different things on the same walk. The daughter of a friend of mine has a new series of paintings on Portland at night that you might enjoy. Leahkohlenberg.com

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    1. Your friend's daughter is very talented; I very much enjoyed looking throuh her paintings, thank you!

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  4. New & shiny can be beautiful but I usually prefer old & shabby - it tells more stories . Love the last picture . Eleanore's garden was a great twist in your garden series . What next I wonder ?
    Wendy in York

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    1. Me too with the old and shabby, or at the very least, with considerable patina. And wasn't Eleonore's garden story great? What I'm thinking of next is another twist, but we'll see if there are other offers as well (I've got my fingers crossed ;-)

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  5. Oh my god! Higgins. I adore Higgins. I'm so excited you went there and loved it. It's a favorite of mine. If I buy in Portland, it would be in The Pearl or the Cultural District, and Higgins would be a haunt. Agree with you about the architecture. Portland is a lovely city, and my beloved namesake niece and her husband live there, so that is a draw. But then…a beloved nephew and his sweet, intelligent significant other—they met at Harvey Mudd—are in Seattle, and that is a separate draw. Seattle is also close to the Canadian border, which would be convenient for we asylum seekers, when that becomes necessary. (I say sorry frequently and am pro the extra "u" in words, so I could assimilate with ease.) Thank you for sharing your photos. I loved the photo you say you can't justify taking; I see why it caught and held your eye.

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    1. We really liked Higgins and also enjoyed Little Bird, on 6th, I believe. If we lived there, we'd also be trying for downtown condo in those districts and Higgins would be our go-to for a nice dinner out.
      We'd adopt you, happily, especially since you're already easily apologetic and know how to spell correctly (;-) But Seattle and Portland are great cities I'm sure you could happily make your home in. xo

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  6. Oh, I do love Portland. Such a walking-sized town with so much to reward walkers, as your photos. I hope you and hubby were able to stay in one of the lovely old downtown hotels.

    I also love that the Lower 48 are book-ended with the other lovely Portland in Maine. :)

    Ann in Missouri

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    1. I love that you say that about Portland -- interesting how so much of the way my husband and I evaluate cities has to do with their walkability.
      As for our hotel, ours was booked for the meetings he was attending there, the purpose of our visit. Good enough for that purpose, but I do love the Benson, up the road, even though it was the scene, years ago, of my embarrassment when I entered the revolving doors too quickly, squishing myself into the wedge that already held my husband's "boss" at the time. Not cool ;-)
      Never been to the other Portland (haven't much traveled in the US, really, but always been intrigued that there should be two. . .

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  7. Photo No.8: That is most definitely a tail! Some big furry beast was curled up behind the wall and sleeping in the September sun. Didn't you hear it purr?

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    1. That's what I pictured as well, and the sheer abundance of that tail (and thus also unmaneuverability) made it seem surely a friendly beast. But I'm not sure who/what the human figure is meant to be and what relationship suggested between the two. . .

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  8. So much fun to see Portland thru fresh eyes. I live here and maybe take things for granted. We love Higgins,it doesn't get all the hype that some of the newer "hot" restaurants, but it is a classic. Good food, service and ambiance. Do post a pic of your new shoes! What shoe store were you shopping. Hoping you got to try some of the foodcarts that Portland is famous for.

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    1. I wondered about Higgins and the hype. We loved the sense of solid, low-key, goodness, regional and seasonal, and the service was impeccable. Shoes bought at Halo, also fabulous service. And I managed to get Turkish falafel and Thai noodles, at the foodcarts -- such fun trying to choose!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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