One Year Ago Today

July 4, 2015 by


We no longer live on SE Main, although southeastmain-the-blog seems to continue. One year ago today we moved further east in Portland, flat-sizing and gaining more community. Today we live just off Burnside, east of 82nd Ave, in a patch of the city that the local newspaper, the Oregonian, claims is, gasp, gentrifying. Our long-time friends, who found us the house and live across the street from the studio, claim they gentrified our new area long ago, and others look at us blankly when we cite the Big O’s startled discovery . Regardless, the area seems quite Portland-normal and totally charming. One of our SE Main St friends who saw us at the Hinson Church Farmer’s Market (down in southeastmain territory) asked us the other day if we were slumming. Ha! None of this makes any sense, but our new digs are splendid. The January blog about the move mostly showed the interior of the house. In this blog, the exterior becomes the star.  I want to put “star” in quotes in that last sentence, because this year has been unseemly in its heat;  the house was chosen for its openness to the sun, which means our current unseemly heat spell, with oodles of sun, causes the gardens to shrink and cower just our air conditioner inside groans and tries to keep up. But even with the shrinking and cowering we have more gardens to water and coo at than we had imagined when we moved in. Here is the current run-through of  the gardens — outside the studio, the deck off the bay window, the burble fountain, and then the modest front, with all its (wannabe less modest) gardens. Our latest purchase (yesterday) was the Mayan bird bath; it had to be cobbled together with various elements at LIttle Baha, and we are hoping it will neither frighten the birds nor the children next door. West of the deck is my studio which has four gardens on three sides; the one pictured below started out as a blank dirt space with no low wall, just concrete steps on one side and a concrete ramp on the other. We added wall, tree, and cowering (from the sun) plants. 1PersimmonGardenJulyThree2015The strange green bag is the TreeGator, a slow irrigation system for new trees. The photo is only slightly deceptive.

And below are photos of the deck and its surrounds — the yellow building is a short side of the studio:






And here is the front of the house, as it appears today. (If you like, you can go to the previous post and get a sense of just how much has changed outside — not exactly due to the season, either).




The boxes and the stones are Jer’s solution to the parking (which is what we call the space between the sidewalk and the street) When we moved in the parking was full of gravel, impenetrable to the ordinary shovel, and underlain with gumbo-ish clay. The boxes solved all the difficulties, neatly.


Jan’s donated day lilies have been fabulous. They were planted in August of last year and survived the summer’s blasts. Who plants in August? But these 50 or so plants not only seem to be thriving, but gorgeous.


This is perhaps a more realistic photo of the front of the house as it is today. The space (and its owners) have aspirations. The photo is included because, if you closely at line from the  bottom-rightish of the photo through to the center, you will see tiny plants which will, god willin’ and the crick don’t rise and the sun goes down at night, turn into glorious chrysanthemums in the fall. These were planted in early June (much too late), and are still doing fine, although they aren’t exactly blockbusters — yet.

Then back to the back, where the hostas are thriving in spite of the slugs. A fine cedar edge marks the property line of our neighbors to the east, who are fantastic gardeners, as well as parents to two tow-headed boys. We’re trying hard not to disgrace them.


And below is the plant that bloomed from November through February, the espaliered camellia, setting itself in readiness for another season. The first photo was taken in January 2015; the second on July 3.





written on July 3, 2015

86th Avenue: New Digs

January 26, 2015 by

The last post, on stairs, was published in April 2014. It’s no longer April — nor 2014. We moved on July 3, 2014, and spent the rest of the year unpacking boxes, fixing, and upgrading our new post-WWII house to live in — hoping for a good long stay here, at least as long as SE Main.

We’ve left our grand old Portland four-square, built in 1900, for a somewhat less elegant but a whole lot more liveable place:




This house is 49 years younger than SE Main and a number of years younger than ourselves. And although we went through great groanings and moanings getting it updated and fixed as we wanted it, by November or so we were pleased with the results. Read the rest of this entry »

Downsizing: Homage to stairs

April 30, 2014 by


We are downsizing. That is, we are moving out of our beloved century-old monster of a house (really just a comfortable old four-square hip-roofed full-basement three-stories-high place) into something with fewer stairs.

The stairs in this house are like the stairs from houses of my entire growing- up years as well as most of our married life.

The stairs to the second floor here have two landings, one big with a big window, the other just a few steps up, off the entry foyer. The basement steps have one landing, which turns, goes on down, and ends in concrete. No attic steps here, just a pull-down ladder that is truly impassable for one of my age and size. Outside, both the front and back porch have steps and there are steps off the street that lead to the stairs up to the porches.



The front walkway to the house, the first steps to be maneuvered — the construction bits are from the renovation of the front wrap-around porch

Anyway, we must escape the stairs. We hadn’t thought this would happen. Not to us.

Read the rest of this entry »

On the occasion of Jer’s 21st Birthday

March 7, 2014 by

Going through boxes of memorabilia, I found these two cards, given on the occasion of Jer’s 21st birthday:

From Grandma Ruth Underwood:


Message inside:


And from Jer’s Mother and Dad:


Message inside:


Lest you wax eloquent about the joys of the good old days, consider this anecdote: a few years later, when Jer showed up at his brother’s wedding with a beard, his grandmother took him aside and read him the riot act (i.e. she gave him hell). And when he said to her, “But grandma, you said ‘to thine own self be true'” there was a serious question about whether she would smack him or walk pointedly away. She chose the latter. His mother, who felt the family honor besmirched, merely broke into tears.

I myself would allow as how he fulfilled all the rules, just not in the way they envisioned. Be warned, those of you with small children.

New Analysis of Hockney’s Drawings

March 4, 2014 by

On Ragged Cloth Cafe, one of my old haunts.




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