Portland is an EIFP

Hey, what do we know after several extended visits to Portland, Oregon? We’re going to go out on a limb and say that if Portland could take a personality test (the well-known Myers-Briggs), we think Portland would find its type to be Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving.

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We’ll celebrate our findings with delicious cones from Salt & Straw.

Extroversion or Introversion? (E or I) The description of an extrovert fits Portland: “I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities…I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it….”

We strolled through town and happened upon dancers from different countries performing on the square.”

We strolled through town and happened upon dancers from different countries performing on the square.”

Sensing or Intuition? (S or I) We’re guessing that it’s intuition: “Paying the most attention to impressions or the meaning and patterns of the information I get. ..I’m interested in new things and what might be possible, so that I think more about the future than the past.”

Portland’s gardens – whether public or private – show a thoughtful sense of style and some knowledge of horticulture.

Portland’s gardens – whether public or private – show a thoughtful sense of style and some knowledge of horticulture.

Thinking or Feeling? (T or F) No question to us that Portland is feeling: “I am concerned with values and what is the best for the people involved. In my relationships, I appear caring, warm, and tactful.”

The old zoo’s elephant house, next to the children’s park, is adorned with animal reliefs.

The old zoo’s elephant house, next to the children’s park, is adorned with animal reliefs.

Judging or Perceiving (J or P) Portland is very strong on the perceiving scale: “To others, I seem to prefer a flexible and spontaneous way of life, and I like to understand and adapt to the world rather than organize it. Others see me staying open to new experiences and information.

Horse rings on curb stones for tethering horses from days gone by are still preserved throughout the city. We were told that a movement was started to tether small model horses to the rings – and we did look for the little horses, but never saw one.

Horse rings on curb stones for tethering horses from days gone by are still preserved throughout the city. We were told that a movement was started to tether small model horses to the rings – and we did look for the little horses, but never saw one.

What do you think? Did we get it right? Portland’s been a great stop on our travels, and we’ll definitely be returning, and, with a new appreciation of its “personality,” we’ll know better how to relate to Portland.

It’s the sum of all the little parts that make Portland a great place to be.

It’s the sum of all the little parts that make Portland a great place to be.

 

June 2015

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LISTEN TO THE FRAGRANCE

We knew we’d arrived when the white wall of the classical Chinese garden came into view. The best place to be on a hot day was seated in shady pavilion, admiring the lotus flowers on the lake.  Tranquility settled in as we sat down.

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A small koi nibbled at the edge of the lily pad, and then its bubbles caught the sunlight.

We drifted slowly through the garden. A pleasant scent welcomed us. The inscription over an archway was translated, “Listen to the fragrance.”

We’d not seen gardenias like this before, and their fragrance filled the courtyard.

We’d not seen gardenias like this before, and their fragrance filled the courtyard.

What more would we see in a classical Chinese garden?

The trees and plants were carefully selected.  The “three friends of winter” – plum, bamboo, and pine – were important elements in this garden and depicted on carved gingko wood panels.

Our guide explained that Chinese maples are often mistaken for Japanese maples.

Our guide explained that Chinese maples are often mistaken for Japanese maples.

Various pavilions provided a place to rest and observe the landscape. We loved their poetic names: Knowing the Fish Pavilion and Moon Locking Pavilion.

Various pavilions provided a place to rest and observe the landscape. We loved their poetic names: Knowing the Fish Pavilion and Moon Locking Pavilion.

The building details came from China and were assembled by sixty-five artisans from Suzhou, sister city of Portland. One detail, the bat-shaped drip tiles along the roof, allowed water to slowly descend from its point, creating a “curtain” of raindrops.

The building details came from China and were assembled by sixty-five artisans from Suzhou.  One detail, the bat-shaped drip tiles along the roof, allowed water to slowly descend from its point, creating a “curtain” of raindrops.

A simple bamboo support for vines covered a pavilion wall.

A simple bamboo support for vines covered a pavilion wall.

We stepped into a pavilion that would have been a family room. A traditional Confucian altar stood before us with photos to honor deceased relatives.

The portraits of Madame Choong Boo Siew and Mister Toh Hooi Choon, the great-grandparents of a garden staff member, were surrounded by joss sticks and candles. We weren’t surprised to see the altar for remembrance and to honor departed family – often found in Chinese homes.

The portraits of Madame Choong Boo Siew and Mister Toh Hooi Choon, the great-grandparents of a garden staff member, were surrounded by joss sticks and candles.

We stayed at the garden so long we had become thirsty. We entered the Tower of Cosmic Reflections Teahouse.

Joe drank Golden Monkey tea, grown near the Tai Mu Mountains in the Fujian province of China. The tea was described as an “uplifting, full-bodied brew with honey sweetness…” Beth drank mango nectar, and we shared horsebeans (lightly roasted fava beans) and sesame chips.

Joe drank Golden Monkey tea, grown near the Tai Mu Mountains in the Fujian province of China. The tea was described as an “uplifting, full-bodied brew with honey sweetness…” Beth drank mango nectar, and we shared horsebeans (lightly roasted fava beans) and sesame chips.

This was not our first visit to Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon. We’d been to the garden on a cold winter’s day thirteen years ago. Our memory was that it was just “nice.” It took a reference to the garden in a book – borrowed from our new friend, Zoe – to spark our interest to return: after all, the “Lan Su is considered the most authentic Suzhou-style garden outside of China.” On this summer visit we took more time, learned and saw more, and we think we even were able to “listen to the fragrance.”

 

June 2015

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What did they say?

As we walked down the tree-lined street, a couple crossed our path, and we overheard her say in a slightly raised and exasperated voice, “So, you think it would be better for me to stay with you, even if I’d be miserable?” Our heads snapped around. He appeared much older than she. We waited for his response. But then, she slipped into the driver’s seat of the car and he into the passenger seat, so any further response or discussion was lost to us — not that we would eavesdrop.

We walk a lot and don’t try to eavesdrop on others’ conversations. Really. But in restaurants where the tables are pushed so close together, in planes where passengers are literally right next to you, and on narrow sidewalks, we become unwilling listeners.

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Cafe tables are wonderful for people watching and listening….in Funchal, Madeira.

Imagine our happiness on our around-the-world trip as we discovered we were freed in so many countries where we didn’t speak the language. People around us chatted with each other, and our not understanding a word released us from the burden of following their conversations.  Their conversations became background sounds much like birds chirping and distant traffic.

How could we not overhear other's comments...in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

How could we not overhear other’s comments…in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Opera in the Park - Nelson Huntington Gardens

A picnic before Opera in the Park allowed us to overhear several conversations at the same time….in Nelson, New Zealand.

Danger lay ahead. We started studying Spanish with Duolingo in preparation for our 2016 trip to South America. What happens when we arrive and overhear conversations in Spanish? Will we react as if we are in an endless Duolingo session – trying to translate everything we hear? How will we be able to filter out “background noise” and not be driven crazy by the need to understand everything said around us? After all, we don’t want to get lost in translation.

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Will we be caught in an endless cycle of translation? First, Duolingo computer lessons and then all the overhead conversations on the streets of South America.

We think if we were to overhear a woman in South America addressing a man in Spanish, “You think it would be better for me to stay with you, even if I’d be miserable,” we’d be motivated to translate her question into English and ready to continue the translation of the poor fellow’s response. Of course, we’d be motivated purely as an academic exercise to practice our Spanish!

 

June 2015

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What’s hot in Portland

As we travel sometimes we are slow to pick up on what’s really worth doing at our new destination. Shortly after arriving in Portland, we went to a dinner party of old friends, and everybody was talking about the Thorns. We pleaded ignorance. The Thorns?   Two weeks later we strolled a pleasant 15 minutes from our AirBnB apartment to Portland’s soccer stadium. We joined 15,214 ardent fans in Provident Park stadium to watch the women’s professional soccer team of Portland, the Thorns, play Sky Blue, Kansas City’s team.

The first half of the game was scoreless, but not for lack of trying.

The first half of the game was scoreless, but not for lack of trying.

The fans were all ages and politely, but wildly enthusiastic, chanting and stamping to the cadences set by a volunteer team of drummers.

The fans were all ages and politely, but wildly enthusiastic, chanting and stamping to the cadences set by a volunteer team of drummers.

Bright red soccer scarves or red shirts were worn by many throughout the stadium.

Bright red soccer scarves or red shirts were worn by many throughout the stadium.

With 40 minutes left to play the score was KC Sky Blue 1 – Portland Thorns 0. The clock ticked down to the end of the 90-minute game—still KC 1 – Thorns 0. But, due to game delays, the officials added 5 minutes. The game went on. In the very last minute of extended play, the Thorns had a corner kick.   The Thorn’s goalie raced down the field to assist the offense. The kick went high and straight to the Thorns’s goalie. She used her head and aimed the shot directly into the goal. SCORE one for the Thorns! Not the proverbial victory but a tie-game snatched from jaws of defeat!

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The celebration was on! Who’s been to a game where the goalie goes to the offense and makes a goal?

The Rose City crowds went wild, cheering as the team took a walk around the field at the end of the game. The goalie, Michelle Betos, is at the far left of the photo (number 18 and dressed in black).

The Rose City crowds went wild, cheering as the team took a walk around the field at the end of the game. The goalie, Michelle Betos, is at the far left of the photo (number 18 and dressed in black).

So, what’s hot in Portland? The Thorns deserve their reputation as one of the stars in a great city. Of all the professional sports games we’ve seen, this was the most exciting.

And can we also say that great fans and a stadium that’s an easy walk away added to an entertaining evening for us, who are not sports fans.

 

June 2015

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A brief intermission

When we drove into Portland, we knew really good food would be on our table. Portland is a “foodie” town with a devotion to local, small farm-grown food (and if it’s organic that’s all the better). Cafes and restaurants take their ingredients very seriously; food trucks are popular; and farm markets large and crowded.

Josh and Tanya gave us our housesitting instructions before they left: pick any ripe fruit in the garden and enjoy eating it!

The blueberries just started to ripen. Not enough yet for pancakes.

The blueberries just started to ripen. Not enough yet for pancakes.

We went out to the garden after dinner and ate raspberries off the canes for our dessert. We ate at least three servings each of those deep red berries.

We went out to the garden after dinner and ate raspberries off the canes for our dessert. We ate at least three servings each of those deep red berries.

On our fourth day, we went for dental checkups with the plan to go out afterwards to lunch and walk around downtown. During Joe’s exam they discovered an infection from a cracked tooth. Within 24 hours the tooth was out and stitches in. The instructions: soft food the first day and don’t eat anything with seeds for the week. Silently we said to ourselves, “But Josh and Tanya told us to eat all those ripe berries!”

We took stock of the foods we had planned to eat that week. The only thing to do was take a brief intermission – knowing our Portland food life would be back on track shortly.

We spent the remainder of the week wandering through Portland’s Saint John neighborhood.

Paintings graced the wooden fence around a house. Our favorites were the historic portraits.

Paintings graced the wooden fence around a house. Our favorites were the historic portraits.

Many Saint John houses are on a modest scale with raised porches and gardens filling the small front yard. We appreciated the choice of paint colors on so many houses.

Many Saint John houses are on a modest scale with raised porches and gardens filling the small front yard. We appreciated the choice of paint colors on so many houses.

Portland’s weather makes for successful and pleasurable gardening – whether it’s food or flowers.

Portland’s weather makes for successful and pleasurable gardening – whether it’s food or flowers.

Joe’s intermission in eating some glorious foods was fortunately short-lived.   Portland, here we come!

 

June 2015

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Visiting the big island

We housesat in Portland while Josh and Tanya flew off to Hawaii’s big island. We thought of them lazing on sandy beaches by the blue sea, and we wished that we’d thought to escape to the island, too.

Well, we’d make the best of it: a week in Portland’s St John neighborhood and who knew what we’d discover? We typed into the search engine, “what to do in Portland.” One thing led to another, and we discovered the hottest spot for bird watching is Sauvie Island.

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The island is larger than Manhattan and is bordered by the Columbia River, the Multnomah Channel, and the Willamette River.

We knew the island! Josh and Tanya – both farmers — had lived there and worked at Sauvie Island Organics for years. Our many trips to the island were centered on visiting them at the farm, and we’d not done much exploring of the island.

A bridge crosses the channel and the scenery quickly changes from industrial to rural.

A bridge crosses the channel and the scenery quickly changes from industrial to rural.

Almost the entire island is farmland with almost half the island designated as a wildlife area.

Almost the entire island is farmland with almost half the island designated as a wildlife area.

We discovered the island was too large to explore in a single day, so we planned three excursions. The first took us to Wapato Access State Greenway, a wooded area that included Virginia Lake. Birds called (and a few mosquitos hummed) nearby. As we walked, we also heard the background hum of bees at work among the bushes and plants. It took some time before we could find any birds in the deep foliage, but, by the time we left that morning, we’d seen 25 different species.

We knew we must be near her nest when a female black-headed grosbeak fluttered from branch to branch nearby, frantic to distract us.

We knew we must be near her nest when a female black-headed grosbeak fluttered from branch to branch nearby, frantic to distract us.

We hiked a 2-mile loop trail in a refuge down Oak Island Road on our second visit. Another couple strolled up, and we ended the walk together. Diane and Dave showed us a bald eagles’ nest and helped us to see a new bird (for us) – an American house wren.

The view was quite wonderful, and at the end of the hike, three snowy peaks were visible: Mounts St Helens, Hood, and Adams.

The view was quite wonderful, and at the end of the hike, three snowy peaks were visible: Mounts St Helens, Hood, and Adams (though not pictured in this photo, but trust us, they were there).

Most wildflowers had bloomed long ago, but these cheery ones brightened up the edge of the path.

Most wildflowers had bloomed long ago, but these cheery ones brightened up the edge of the path.

We read that over the years, marshes and food sources for migrating birds have become scarce on their journey in western North America. The value of birds to the environment is critically important. (Imagine life if birds didn’t consume all those insects?) On our third visit to the island, we met a volunteer who told us that the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife was planting nearly 400 acres in wheat, millet, and corn on Sauvie Island for the birds to eat during their migration. Bravo!

We continued up Reeder Road, past a long beach, when it occurred to us that, while Josh and Tanya were enjoying the big island of Hawaii, we were enjoying the big island of Portland.

No, not exactly the same experience, but we definitely found it was a rewarding island get-away.

 

June 2015

 

 

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Meet Dmitri and the gang

We met Dmitri and other residents (as they are called) at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. We looked forward to taking a few resident portraits, if the birds were willing. The birds seemed not to mind a bit, but the fine wire fencing (which shows up in some of the portraits) and the rain dripping off our hats presented quite a challenge taking their portraits.

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Eurasian Eagle-Owl, named Dmitri

 

All the residents at the center had a one problem or another that prevented them from living freely in the wild: amputated wing, missing eye, inability to hunt….

We had hoped to see the raptors first and then go for a hike on a Ridgeline trail and climb to Spencer Butte with its wonderful vistas. The day turned out to have low cloud cover and rain. We needed to change our plans. After watching Dimitri eating his raw nuggets of quail meat, we decided to head for the celebrated vegan restaurant in town, Cornbread Café, for some breaded seitan fried “chicken” and mashed potatoes. A wonderful day!

 

June 2015

 

 

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