The Hairy Stairs

These days my walks around town are less bustling boulevard and more field and hedgerow.

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We love rambling around our new neighborhood, which we have dubbed ‘the Shire’, because it has so many winding, narrow lanes, charming old cottage style homes, and not a sidewalk to be seen. And, as all the neighbors resolutely attest, there will likely be no sidewalks. It might involve tree removal, or nesting sites disrupted, or a wet land deflected.

The Discover challenge appealed to me, not only because it introduced a new word into my vocabulary–flaneur–but because exploring our environs is something we enjoy. Of course, there are different shades of flaneur, no doubt…most having to do with actual people. People-watching at the airport, for example (oh the stories one can weave) or power-eavesdropping at a coffee shop, are both different in tone than listening for elusive bird calls coming from a nearby thicket.

All, however, exercise the power of curiosity and have an enlivening effect on the mind.

Oregonians love their scenic wonderland, and Portlanders get their dose of all that plus the fascination of a beautiful city. We’re less than five minutes from downtown Portland by car, but our ‘hairy staircase’ gets us to the Village in about the same time, on foot.

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What is the hairy staircase? It’s what a little neighbor girl calls the mossy and wooded path, tucked between some obliging neighbors, that gives the other neighbors a shortcut down the hill into the village. It’s somewhat secret but not, because everyone knows about it. It makes a trip into ‘the village’ only about five minutes on foot, even with a stroller.

If you’re a bit arthritic and slow, not to worry, we have a solution for you, so come along. Strollers can navigate the path, too.

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There’s even a book depot on the way. In case you run out of provisions on your journey and desperately need a book to read. (it happens) Take one, leave one. Loosely maintained by a kind neighbor who adds a sprinkling of cyclamen and daffodil bulbs on occasion.

Once in the village, oh my. There’s good coffee, a local brewpub, outdoor cafes, my favorite wool shop, a funky bead emporium, a historic tavern that has an interesting rooftop way of sending off its loyal patrons that kick the bucket…and the list of attractions goes on.

architecture, old buildings PDX, street photography, bar, dining out, tableside

Oregon is known for its friendly watering holes, and our feisty brewers.

(we take our refreshment very seriously here)

We also have the natural variety of watering hole, in this case my birdfeeder, patronized by very feisty patrons that are assuredly not birds. For now the squirrels have worked out an arrangement, but I sense the tension building.

There will be wars, and fur flying in a moment.

There’s the downtown boulevard at dusk, in beautiful colors….

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and here is one of my favorite ‘boulevards’ in the neighborhood. It cuts through a park and leads to the Hairy Stairs.

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Here we are;  be prepared to book shop on the way, in case you didn’t get to Powell’s bookstore for your fix… the ground is so springy underfoot, from years of moss drippings and wood shavings.

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Be careful; it gets a bit steep in places and you’re probably going to want to gaze at all the beautiful fall color on your way. Not that I have ever slipped, or anything, while eagerly ogling a flash of red twig against a spray of yellow…that would be so flaneur, right?

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The other distraction are these lovely blooms; quite fragrant and sweet. They would seem to herald spring, but the chill in the air tells me otherwise, and that our footsteps must hasten on to that coffee shop in the village.

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Thanks to the neighborhood app, we’ve just been alerted to the fact that One Particular Hen who shall remain nameless has escaped again. Known as ‘not actually lost but trying to find herself’ this little Russian Orloff has ambitions.

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But she’s not here, at this field. Only tiny finches in the underbrush, and the rustlings of field mice. The finches stop twittering as soon as I stray too close–which makes me feel quite left out. I wish I could get them used to my presence so they would continue to chatter on as freely as the college girls hanging out at the Powell’s coffee shop at midnight. But perhaps that sounds a little too…flaneur?

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The rain outwitted us and hit with a mighty splash before we’re home, but we’re used to it.

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One eventually dries out. And we have a warm welcome awaiting us.

Discover

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Book Notes: The Library

Some of you may remember that I moved last summer. The settling in continues, but a milestone has finally been achieved. I thought I would update those of you who have asked.

‘How are the bookshelves doing?’

These bookshelves were too tall, as we went from nine foot ceilings to standard ceilings. Although it broke my heart, the bookshelves had to have a foot sawed off…it was that or not use them at all, which was unacceptable. Some of these shelves are double-stacked, to make up the difference. And I did have to cull some books. (ugh)

Yes, you are seeing two sets of Britannicas. Ever since I was little, I wanted a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas. (I was not into dolls) Eventually I acquired the famous 19ll set (which you see on the left, the handy ‘small’ edition) and a set of 1938. These are more than curiosities or anachronisms to me; they provide a wealth of fascinating information.

For example, in the 1938 edition, a small, insignificant paragraph given to Hitler, but pages of tiny print devoted to The Hittites. What Hitler did might seem more relevant to today’s reader than what the Hittites did, but, eventually, all those blustery types disappear into a footnote and a fragment of dust.

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So here you see….the process and transformation. The real transformation is interior….me, that is.

I feel at home now.


The Discover Challenge for the last week had to do with mixing media; I love the new Canva app, and have used it often. Here is a favorite quote, using a photo of my library. When it comes to book quotes, there is an embarrassment of riches, but I think Wilde’s comment has some truth to it.

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Lists To Dream On

IMG_3376What to read next? New lists forming daily as I unpack my library and rediscover old ‘friends’…in the meantime, a poem that lists several of my to-be-read, or currently being read; all books having to do with the cooling atmosphere of water, rivers, or bridges. (It seemed like a good summertime theme!)

Reading
Quiet pools
warm words lapping
Sound of turning pages
sticky with sand
of seaside Sanditon
dappled, light-strewn
amber beaded
with the sparkle
of Jane

By Homer’s amplitude
we Odyssey
with mighty ones
For journeying
on the wine dark sea
“is the thing”
that maddens
While we search
for friends worth dying for

Frenchman’s Creek
shall you lure me
to your quiet shoals
insistent on romance?
Stay your swashbuckled
wandering feet
Free your thoughts
To pirate instead
amongst the stars
Boldly you pillage
Sweet contentment

Captured heart!
lovely oh lovely web
of gauze-like frailty

To The Lighthouse we go
There are words enough
for connoisseurs
and dabblers alike
Grooming my middlebrows
I’ll smile as Virginia
once smiled

What mind next allures me?
Shall we seed these books
In lists cascading  
Layered in waterfalls
Of refreshment
Or shall they be stacked
To suggest
some dreaming spires
of Barchester Towers?

I don’t know
It shall play out
that’s the beauty of it
For you or I
The learning comes easy
In Sweet and Twenties
and summer days
For Still Glides the Stream
When words pool deliciously
In dreamy rivulets
Reading