Thursday, February 10, 2011

Somewhere It Must Be Warm...

Someone once said that you should never apologize or feel the need to explain when you've been absent from blogging for awhile.  I think that is a wise idea, yet I'm the kind of person who wears her heart on her sleeve, as my close friends would tell you, and always feel I must apologize when I haven't kept up with leaving comments on the blogs I regularly visit.  Last week I was away, visiting my youngest daughter, and though I found a few minutes here and there to read blogs, it was hit and miss, not part of my usual morning routine as the cobwebs in my brain lift, fueled by the morning jolt of caffeine.

I had planned a post as soon as I returned the first of this week, but for the past week my family has been dealing with a very sad situation--the death of a close family member who died very unexpectedly, leaving behind a young widow and two small children.  It's been a difficult time for all, and I haven't felt like blogging at all, needless to say.  But it has been a reminder of just how fragile and precious life is; we must appreciate and take advantage of every moment given to us.

While everyone back home was digging out from the Great Blizzard of  '11, I was enjoying the relative warmth of Portland, Oregon, where 48 or 50 degrees felt like spring to me.  I managed to get out of town just in time.  My flight from Indianapolis was delayed for awhile, including some time to spray the plane down with de-icer ("Yes, I'll gladly wait here on the tarmac if it means those wings don't ice up!), but the flight was uneventful otherwise, thank goodness.

Rear view of Pittock Mansion
 February is not a good time for visiting gardens, even in Oregon, so I didn't even attempt to see some of my favorite places from past visits, like the International Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, or the Chinese Garden.   But Daughter and I did take an afternoon sightseeing drive through the city, including a stop at a place she thought I would enjoy, the Pittock Mansion located 1,000 feet above the heart of Portland. 

Completed in 1914, the mansion featured many innovative features for that time, including a central vacuum system and intercoms.  But it is the architectual details that really capture a visitor's attention, especially this beautful three-story marble staircase.  Daughter and I both took time to pose for photos on this staircase, but thought it would have been more appropriate if we had been wearing ballgowns instead of blue jeans and sneakers.

The home is filled with 17th and 18th century antiques; I'm not sure why the only photo I took, though, was of the cookstove:)  Perhaps it was because I was distracted by the view--the cook could roll out pastry while looking out a window with a breathtaking view of the city. The estate remained in the family until the late '50's when it was put on the market.  Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens supported its preservation, and in 1964 the city of Portland purchased it and began restoring the mansion, saving it from demolition and land developers.

As beautiful as the interior is, the exterior is even more appealing.  Strolling down the back lawn, a visitor finds one of the best views of the city with Mount Hood clearly visible on the horizon.

Georgiana Pittock, who commissioned the building of this house along with her husband Henry, was an avid gardener and originated the tradition of Portland's annual Rose Festival.  The grounds around the mansion are filled with many different plants; I hope that on my next trip I'll be able to see these in bloom, because even in winter the garden was impressive. There were even roses blooming near the front door--an amazing sight in early February!  Daughter took great delight in testing my knowledge of different plants; it wasn't hard to identify the large plantings of  azaleas--or maybe these were rhododendrons.

Nor was it hard to pick out these Japanese maples.  Judging by their thick trunks, I thought they must be fairly mature specimens, yet both were less than 5 feet tall.

But I had no idea what kind of tree this was, and there were no identifying markers beside it.  It certainly has a unique trunk.

The Pittock Mansion is open year-round and is in close proximity to both the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden.   I'd definitely recommend visting all three of these places if you're ever in Portland.

One of the things I love about Portland is that you don't need a car to get around.  While Daughter was working one day, I took advantage of the excellent mass transit system to do some exploring on my own.  For less than $5.00 you can purchase an all-day pass that allows you to ride to and from anywhere in the city and the outlying suburbs (where Daughter lives) on the train, then take any city bus or the streetcar downtown. 

Of course, if you want to travel further, you might need additional transportation as this street sign in Pioneer Square indicates:)

I was content, though, just to stay where I was, enjoying some precious time with Daughter and, of course, Coconut, who is quite the fashionista at times, as you can see.

I think Coconut was just as happy to have me visit as was Daughter, especially since we took frequent daily walks past the wetland area across the street from Daughter's apartment complex.  We both enjoyed seeing the ducks, geese, and different species of birds flying about and swimming in this nature area.  I'm almost positive that one day I saw an eagle flying above the area as well.

Although afternoons in Portland were warm enough that I could comfortably shed my winter coat on walks with Coconut, I didn't completely escape the effects of the big winter storm.  My flight home late Sunday evening went without a hitch . . . until I reached Indianapolis.  I had left my car in the long-term parking lot, and I soon realized what everyone there had had to endure, as I spent an hour chipping ice off my windshield ... and then needed assistance to get "unstuck" from the ice in my parking space!  

I'm glad to be back home, but it was -8 degrees (-22 C) when I woke up this morning, and I'm already dreaming of finding someplace warm . . . maybe it's time to visit Older Daughter in Phoenix, too!


  1. Rose, I'm sorry for your sad loss, but happy for you to have had such a nice visit to Portland. My daughter attended school there for a time, across the street from that fabulous rhododendron garden. I was never there for the blooms, but the space was magical nonetheless. Never made it to the Pittock mansion - great views! Welcome back :)

  2. Well that's two of us with hearts pinned firmly to our sleeves then Rose ;)

    I am so very sorry to read of your untimely sad loss, made all the more painful I am sure by his age. How terribly, terribly difficult for his widow and young children, my heart goes out to them and all of you, life is indeed fragile, too fragile...

    So nice though that you had some relief from the weather and a lovely visit with your daughter, what a pretty girl she is! Coconut looks very smart too :)

    I would very much have enjoyed visiting that wetland area, you would never have guessed would you? ;)

    My goodness, that staircase is impressive! Definitely ball gowns needed to sweep down there.

    Stay warm Rose :)

  3. First of all I'm very sorry about the loss of your family member. So very sorry.

    Secondly welcome back and oh my, not a good welcome back with having all that ice on your car. Yikes! I hate to think of it.

    One of these days I am going to get to the northwest and all these posts make me want to do so.

    Please take care and my thoughts go out to the widow and children.

  4. Rose, your visit sounded great. Lots of fun gardens to explore.
    Sorry to hear about the death, it is always hard.
    Winter is still here for sure!

  5. Oh Rose - that magnificent staircase! What an wonderful mansion and yes, I can envision you and Daughter dressed in ballgowns, heels and tiaras descending that staircase while your dresses trail behind you! What fun! I also would have loved to see the gardens in bloom.

    Too bad about the car being stuck in the ice - a rude awakening, isn't it?

    No need to apologize. We all do our own thing. Blog when we can, visit when we can and when we cannot, it's o.k.

    My condolences on your family member's most untimely death. I do feel for his young widow. I hope she gets the support she needs. And the children, of course.

    Hugs - nice to have you back.

  6. I am so sorry to hear of your loss Rose. A sad story to come home to.
    The visit with your daughter and Coconut sounds like it was great relief from the cold of the homelands. Welcome home.

  7. Hugs across the miles for you, Rose. My prayers are with your family. And I hope this awful winter will end soon for you.

    Portland looks like a wonderful place to visit. Old estates are really the best for getting an idea of how successful communities begin. If not for philanthropy, we'd probably all still be cavedwellers, scratching pictures on the walls.

    Glad you're back home safe and sound.

  8. Daughter and Coconut look wonderful. How great to see them both. I know you enjoyed your time with them and am so glad you were able to go. The mansion and gardens look like something we would both love to spend time in, but the view is captivating. I think with lawn chairs and a cups of coffee we could be such happy campers!

  9. You picked the right time to get away, that's for sure! What a great view from the mansion.

    Sorry for your loss, that is difficult to come home to.

  10. So sorry to hear your sad news. An unpleasant wake-up call to the fragility of life. Those maples look extraordinary.

  11. This mansion is gorgeous, and I would love to visit Portland and its gardens. I hope your family's hearts are healing after your sad loss.
    I am your newest follower.

  12. Is Kangaroos a place or do they mean the animals?

    Back to the beginning. So sorry to hear of a young death. Life is indeed precious and not to be taken for granted.

    I'm with you on preferring a delay to frozen wings!

    What a gorgeous looking mansion. I sighed over the staircase but positively drooled over the cooker! And what a view!

  13. Sorry for your loss and so sad to think of the ones left behind during these horrible times...

    What a beautiful place to get away from the ice and cold. I can only imagine your thoughts as you scrape the ice away from your car upon your arrival home. I would be trying to get that plane to take me back to the land of warmth! LOL...

    Coconut is such a cutie pie and I am sure you two had a blast on your daily walks.

    Yes, why do we feel the need to explain why we have been “Missing” on the Blogs? Just a silly thing I reckon but the way I am as well. I do not have many secrets, LOL...

    Again, sorry for the loss....

    Stay Warm!

  14. Dear Rose,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Life is so very fragile, so very precious. Holding you and yours in my thoughts......

    Sweet coconut....lovely image with your daughter. It must have been wonderful spending time with them both.

    The mansion is stunning......I feel sure you will visit when the gardens are in bloom.
    The area that appealed to me most is the wetlands. How wonderful to live so close to a natural landscape.

    Take care Rose.....

  15. Cyndy, Thank you. I saw the rhodies and azaleas in bloom when I was there last spring, and they were stunning!

    Songbird, Thank you for all your kind words. Yes, I think you would love the wetlands--you could have helped me identify some of the birds I saw, too!

    Tina, Thank you; yes, you should visit the Northwest some time. I didn't get out of the city this time, but the big Douglas firs around the area look like something straight out of an old movie--a totally different environment.

    Janet, Portland is a beautiful city, especially when everything is in bloom. I'll be almost sad when Daughter moves this summer.

    Wendy, I'm glad Daughter took me to the mansion; it was so lovely and reminded me of a gentler time. Thanks for the words of condolence; my niece has lots of family support, but it will still be hard for her.

    Lisa, I thought I had entered springtime there!

    W2W, Thank you. The mansion's history was interesting, too--built by a self-made businessman who settled here after making the trek cross-country. They didn't get to live here long, though, as they built it in their declining years.

    Beckie, Wish you could tag along for a visit sometime, though Daughter's futon isn't the most comfortable to sleep on:) Lots of beautiful sights to see!

    Plantiscious, Thank you for those kind words. I thought the maples looked unusual; I'd love to see them when they leaf out.

    Terra, Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by. I've fallen in love with Portland.

    Liz, I'm not sure about those kangaroos:) Isn't that cookstove something? But the best part was the view--it would make being a servant in this place almost enjoyable.

    Skeeter, Coconut grew up here, so I miss him almost as much as Daughter. I hope they'll both be some place much closer after this summer. Yes, I don't keep many secrets here either:)

    Cheryl, Thank you for the kind thoughts; life does go on...doesn't it? I did have a great time with Daughter, and no, I'm not surprised you would find the wetland area intriguing. I think Oregon is more concerned about preserving the environment than most states.

  16. I'm very sorry for your family's loss Rose.

    Looks like a wonderful time visiting your daughter. LOVE that stove!!! If I'd seen it in person I probably wouldn't have felt the need to photograph anything else in the house. I've always thought it would fantastic to have a beautiful old stove like that in the kitchen. It is truly a work of art, beyond its utilitarian use.

  17. Rose I am sorry for you and your family's loss. The sudden death of a young person is so hard.

    I love the stove ~ it looks so very unique. And the view!!!

  18. Rose great photos of your visit w/ daughter! LOve the marble stair case! Here in AZ it's 8:30 a.m. and 60F going up to 80F today! Sun shines bright every day so we have all thawed out from the 2 day freeze last week.
    Prayers going to your family for the sudden loss. hugs Anna

  19. First of all, I was so sorry about the loss in the family and don't worry about commenting. I am sure everyone will understand.
    Secondly, I just love Coconut. What a lovely little creature.
    Hop you all feel better soon.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  20. I am so sorry for your loss. We do indeed need to treasure every moment with our loved ones. And it looks like you had a wonderful visit with your Daughter and that adorable Coconut.

  21. Oh, dear Rose, I am so very sorry for your loss. No need to apologize when you don't have energy to blog or to visit others; it's just good to know that you're okay. Take care of yourself,...know that you're cared about around the blogosphere...

  22. So sorry to hear of your sadness Rose.
    It was good that you got to do some sightseeing. That cookstove was to die for! I still miss my wood cookstove of years ago. We named it "Bernie". The former owner, an elderly lady, would shoo the toddlers away from the hot stove exclaiming "burney! burney!"

  23. I know it sounds trite, but sometimes just writing and sharing about something tragic in our lives, really helps lift a burden.
    I hope you are keeping warm and I am glad you got to see your beautiful daughter.

  24. we LOVE portland and are very glad that you enjoyed it as well! stay warm back at home :)

    - Semi-Urban Homesteader Staff

  25. Heartfelt hugs, dear Rose, and appreciate this lovely post even more. Believe me, I know how hard it is to jump back into life after a huge loss in your life. Thank you for sharing. Happy Valentine's Day, dear friend.

  26. Brrrr that's so cold Rose and sorry to read about the loss in your family. I hadn't blogged in over 2 weeks and I really did find it hard after the first week to get in the mood to blog. Likewise I have not been too good at keeping up with comments either - we've had 2 down with swine flu in the house recently.

    I think your photos are lovely and I think that the unusual bark on that tree might be due to burls or as some called them burrs growing on the trunk. Mount Hood looks awesome.

  27. Rose you made me laugh with your story about the duck ending up in your lap! I can just imagine how you felt! LOL!

  28. A belated welcome home~I am so glad you had a good visit away form the big storm. Even we got snow and cold weather. Rose, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of a young parent. That's so difficult for everyone. Taking time to be with them and to rest makes perfect sense. Take care dear...Hope you have had a sweet Valentine's Day. gail

  29. Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. We are moving on to normalcy here, I guess. Now I see I wasn't the only one taken with that cookstove!

  30. A great place to visit. Thanks for the wonderful photos.
    Goldenray Yorkies

  31. I enjoyed every word and every photo in this post. Well, I didn't like the part about the trouble you had in long-term parking on your return home. Sounds dangerous.
    And I am so very sorry to hear about the death of your family member. I hope his wife and children will be okay. This reminds me that I should not be fretting so much about my 87-year old dad.

    I don't know what looks more beautiful to me, the Pittock Mansion or that gorgeous green grass.

    Your daughter is lovely, lovely and Coconut is quite the fashionista.



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