Friday, January 30, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Anansi the Spider

The Oregon Shadow Theatre doesn't do nearly enough public shows in Oregon.  They often travel to Washington for performances, so Portland shows are a somewhat rare treat.  We love them!  I am so grateful that my son doesn't dismiss puppet shows offhand as boring or beneath him because they generally attract a very young audience. (I expect that the fact that we homeschool and his friends let him be himself has something to do with this.) Oregon Shadow Theatre shows are actually quite sophisticated, with gorgeous puppets, wonderful music and excellent sound effects.  The stories are complex enough to keep all ages captivated.  Afterwards they always have a question and answer session, and show the kids exactly how they constructed the puppets and what made the sound effects, which is quite inspiring!  Jasper has seen most of their shows, but I confess I was a bit excited to learn that he doesn't remember many of them well if it's been a few years.  So now I'm going to make a point of taking him to them again.  Their shows are based on specific folktales and cultural traditions from around the world, and incorporate music from each of these places.  Anansi the Spider is a  very popular West African folktale trickster, and their puppet show based on this character is charming.  Parents should remember that shadow puppet performances take place in darkened rooms, which can be a concern for very young kids. Of course my still photographs can't begin to do the shows justice, but they do at least give a glimpse of the artistry of their wonderful puppets.  My favorite was the warthog!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taylor Electric Supply

Taylor Electric Supply had a warehouse in SE Portland a few blocks from OMSI which was the size of a city block, until May 2006.  A stack of wooden pallets sitting outside of the building caught fire. I'm not sure if it was ever determined if the fire was started accidentally or it was a case of arson.  But it became one of the biggest fires on record in SE Portland.  Fortunately no one was hurt, but the building was reduced to walls.  Today it is a temple to graffiti art.  It's obviously a place that graffiti artists can get into easily and have as much time as they need to create spectacular images.  Of course, it's not going to be there forever. Apparently pollution from toxins released during the fire has officially been abated.  Developers have plans to tear down the ruins and build a 60,000 square foot office/retail space.  Portland does not have a lot of graffiti and does have a strong graffiti abatement program, which of course most people consider a good thing.  But some of it is purely creative expression without any sinister purpose, and vandalism is a bit beside the point at this location. Given our tolerance for the commercial messages that dominate our shared public spaces, the more artistic graffiti can be a nice change of pace.  It's definitely worthwhile to stop by and see this outdoor, free public art exhibit while it lasts!  It's located at SE 3rd Ave. and Market St. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bridal Veil

I was surprised to discover that we've never visited Bridal Veil Falls.  Maybe because it's a little too easy!  Generally we drive to the Gorge in search of a hike, and Bridal Veil Falls is more of a stroll. We decided this was perfect for a winter day when we wanted to see something beautiful but were feeling wimpy about being outside.  The scenic overlook at Bridal Veil Falls is also well known as a place to see camas flowers in bloom in the spring.  First we stopped to see the Bridal Veil Post Office, where local couples have a tradition of mailing their wedding invitations for the romantic postmark.  Next we checked out the falls themselves, which Jasper declared to be among the loveliest in the Pacific Northwest.  (I'm not so sure...there's certainly a lot of competition for that title!)

Bridal Veil Post Office. It even has a Little Free Library next to it (the yellow cabinet). 
The view from the scenic overlook.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Powwow

For sixteen years, Portland Community College has been hosting a Winter Powwow on their Sylvania campus.  It's free and open to the public, and a great chance to see dancers in beautiful traditional costumes and hear Native American songs and drumming.  Jasper was especially excited to try fry bread!  They included a special ceremony to honor Native American war veterans which was truly moving.  The Powow was a perfect antidote to a chilly and rainy day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Coyote Beauty

I just love this music video's vision of wild Portland... inspired by a true story.  Check it out!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tamanawas Falls

Tamanawas Falls is one of those hikes at Mt. Hood that are a must for families.  It's a short hike with a spectacular waterfall, the trail curves along a really beautiful creek and through a talus field where picas live, and the trailhead is right beside Hwy. 35.  I was tipped off recently that it's also a must this time of year, when it's a winter wonderland.  And it really was breathtaking!  We noticed right away that much of the snow was quite blue. All around the waterfall it was especially so.  I found this explanation-
Why does snow sometimes look blue?
"When snow appears to be blue, it’s very pure. The phenomenon is called blue coloration in photography. Light has different wavelengths that we perceive as colours, and blue light is the light that goes through ice most readily. The same phenomenon makes the sea and the sky blue."
There were a few downsides to this hike, which definitely did not ruin it for us but will change our strategy for deciding when to go in the future.  The trail was pretty crowded on the weekend we went. This didn't really bug us; in fact lots of foot traffic made showshoes completely unnecessary and our hiking boots that kept our feet warm were more than sufficient.  But we were quite unprepared for the huge number of off-leash dogs, despite signs that prohibit them.  I do expect to see them in Forest Park (where it's not legal either and owners are sometimes ticketed) and at the Sandy River Delta (where I believe that it is legal).  But we've never encountered them here.  Much of the trail was lined with "yellow snow" and plenty of dog poop.  I happen to know two kids that had their faces mauled by off-leash dogs, have a friend who had to take a guy to the ER after her off-leash dog bit him, and once witnessed two off-leash dogs that crossed paths and decided it was time for a fight to the death while the owners watched helplessly.  The owners all swore they were wonderful sweet dogs, because otherwise of course they wouldn't have off-leashed them.  As a parent, if the only thing I know about a total stranger I meet on the trail is that they don't have any respect for the leash laws, I'm not about to trust them with the safety of my family.  So I sincerely wish they wouldn't do this. 

In the future, when going there in the winter, I think I'll aim for a Monday when the weather has been clear for a few days.  That way, the snow should be well packed from so many weekend hikers and easy to walk without snowshoes.  I'll try getting there either very early in the morning or late enough that we should expect to finish the hike just before dark (with flashlights just in case.) Hopefully there would be fewer people out, and it would be much more peaceful and keep our focus always on the beautiful surroundings.