Amuse me

I am big on childish fun. I live for it, so when I got the chance to visit the local amusement park recently, I jumped on it.  Who doesn’t need a little fun and amusement every once in a while?

My daughter still allows me to accompany her to places such as this and amazingly at 14, she doesn’t seem as embarrassed by my presence as she should be.  Maybe this is because I am a totally hip and happening middle-aged woman who is a laugh a minute and loads of fun to hang out with?  Could it be that she is a kind soul who takes pity on her poor fun-starved mother…maybe it’s because I’m springing for junky carnival food and deluxe ride braclets?

Oaks Amusement Park is a quaint old-fashioned little park nestled among the trees in Sellwood, minutes from downtown Portland Oregon.  Built in 1905 its sign proudly proclaims: “This is the place where the fun never ends…..”

This is the place for me!

Our fun started with greasy super bad for you corn dogs, loaded with fat and cholesterol and smothered with happy yellow mustard, accompanied by a nice tall cola, bubbling over with corn syrupy goodness.  We sat in the sun and slurped up our unhealthy booty in silence.   Aspie style, enjoying each others presence but not needing a lot of words.

After having our fill we did a short walkabout around the park. Mentally mapping out our itinerary.

THE SPIDER

We decided since we had just eaten all that junky food we should immediately go on The Spider; a ride that takes you way up in the air and spins you around.

This perhaps may not have been the smartest move…I realised this when we were dangling on top of the ride suspended in mid-air and all I could hear was blood curdling screaming:  My daughter kept repeating over and over “It’s okay Mother, (she calls me Mother to annoy me)  stop screaming. You are making my brain hurt.”  And her brain did hurt and so did mine for the entire ride…

And then we were off to something a bit more my speed so I could relax and get my bearings before the next round.

AHHHHH!!! Not this ride!!!
No Way!! I am a chicken, not THIS one either!
AHHHH…This one is better. 🙂
A very relaxing train ride.
miniature golf waterfall
Little kids roller coaster we were too tall to ride.
Americana at it’s best.
This happy girl makes it all worthwhile.

Waiting for The Sun

Here in rainy Oregon The Sun has become a reclusive and exclusive celebrity showing its dazzling brilliance only in limited amounts.

Phone calls have not been returned and it’s agent could not be reached for comment. Sources close to the star are suggesting a contract dispute might be behind this unusual behavior.  It is widely known in certain spheres that The Sun has been dissatisfied with working conditions lately: low, really no pay, overworking in one area but underworking in another, no vacation time or health benefits.  The sun has had it some say. But these are just rumors. What we need are cold hard facts.

Experts have been called in and a good number of them blame the clouds, saying it is they who block out the sun.  Many agree and this seems to be the general consensus. But there are some who disagree; a few have blamed the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Some have mentioned it could be the work of terrorists and one obvious lunatic has cited something called “Global Warming” as the cause.

All agree the situation has become dire and the mayor has put together a commission to study this phenomena.

Meanwhile the soggy citizens in the city of Portland are indoors; pressed up against the windows wishing and yearning and Waiting for the Sun.  Moss covered and sullen, NW gardeners are is in dismay; creeping around from bush to bush with a frown–in the city of roses the roses are down battered by pelting rain and blowing wind….have I mentioned that this is early July?

The local meteorologists seem worried and look as guilty as can be, it is as if they are responsible.  They keep telling us that summer is just around the corner, they mention forecasts for sunny days–always five days away.

My son is as pale as a ghost and my daughter is too, they seem to like it that way but they don’t know any better. I suppose I should be grateful, many places in the world would love all this rain and the lush green growth that results from it. (think moss) I am grateful really but I can’t help but think we are getting more than our fair share of moisture and our elusive sun problem is someone else’s elusive rain problem.  Too bad we cannot share the wealth a little…

And so while My fellow Portlanders and I pull out our summer sweaters, put another log on the fire and gaze out the window expectantly for you know who, we will be grateful for what we have–every drop of it.

Happy Summer!!!

Strawberryindigo.

HELLO

At The Grotto: A retreat in the city

The Monestary at The Grotto

T  h  e     G  r  o  t  t  o

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  

                             ***Henry David Thoreau***

One of my most favorite places in the world is The Grotto.  It is a magical place where spirituality and nature meet in a tranquil atmosphere of well-tended gardens, natural areas and man-made splendor.

The Grotto is the popular name of The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. It is a spectacular 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden located in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.

 “The Grotto strives to provide a welcoming presence and a

beautiful environment conducive to peace, quiet, and spiritual inspiration. The Grotto offers understanding, compassion, support and hope through a variety of ministries including counseling, education, spiritual direction and liturgical celebrations. The Grotto endeavors to serve all people.” ( Grotto website)

Although The Grotto is an internationally renowned Catholic shrine, it provides a spiritual and peaceful retreat for people of all faiths and for those that have none at all.  It truly is a hidden gem in the city, just minutes from downtown. To walk these grounds one would be hard-pressed to notice this fact.  The Grotto is also a stunning botanical garden filled with fir trees, rhododendrons and other native plants.

The Lower level

The lower level contains 20 acres of natural woodland. There is a solemn peacefulness here. A certain quietness that evokes a sense that you are in quite another world. Here I feel safe and protected by the tall pines, their spicy scent filling my senses; bringing back forgotten childhood memories and putting a spring in my step.

I have walked here often in this wild and untamed section of The Grotto.  I admire the way the land is cared for. The way some would say God intended, certainly the way Mother nature intended.  Fallen trees overgrown with brush and leaf litter are sure signs of natural land stewardship.

Happy Jesus

Our Lady’s Grotto

At the center of it all is the shrine Our Lady’s Grotto, a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff.  A life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà has been carefully placed at its center.
The church at The Grotto
The elevator
The  elevator amongst the treetops is definitely a surreal experience. As we climb the 110 feet up the imposing cliff walls, a reassuring voice of soft muted tones speaks of what awaits us at the top.
The Upper Level Gardens are simply lovely. It is a whole other world that  seems pure and untouched by the modern world below.  There is a sense of serenity that prevails. I feel closer to nature; a certain connectedness that I can only feel outside amongst the living earth. A visit does good for my soul and it is truly a tonic for the heart as well.
 The manicured gardens and walking paths wind around the magnificent grounds.  There are chapels, statues, native plants and a wide variety of trees.   They say the upper level gardens are possibly the best kept secret in Portland as well as one of its largest green spaces. It is easy to forget you are in the middle of the city.
The Labyrinth
The Statues
St. Jude
Saint Francis
Angel in the sun
The Meditation Chapel

One of the highlights of a trip to the upper gardens includes one of the most spectacular views in town, The cliff side Meditation Chapel is truly something to see. Made of polished granite and glass walls it certainly makes quite an impression.

This beautiful building showcases an amazing view of the Columbia River Valley, the Cascades and Mt. St. Helens. It is no wonder that this building has received both national and international architectural awards.

St. Anne’s Chapel

This charming little red house once served as a chapel and it honors Saint Anne, the mother of Mary.  Built in 1934 it now houses numerous Madonna paintings from many countries.
The View
Spectacular views are just one of the reasons why this place is so special. On a clear day you can almost see tomorrow or at least a mountain or two.
Thanks for accompanying me on this tour of one of my most favorite spots in the world. There is much to see and what I have shown here is but just a sampling of what this hidden gem in the city has to offer.
The Grotto is a place for everyone, of all faiths and beliefs. The atmosphere is gentle and accepting. I find solace here. Its quiet natural beauty is a perfect spot for reflection and meditation or a tranquil walkabout.
If you ever happen to find yourself in Portland stop and visit, you’ll
 be glad you did.  
Wishing You Peace and Happiness,

Strawberryindigo.

Related articles