Parks and Playdates

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Oh my, the busy days! A lot of these photos were on my phone. We've been busy around town and busy at home. Amelia went to a week of pottery camp and is doing tennis camp this week. In between there have been lots of visits to parks with friends and having friends over and swimming with friends and just generally having a lot of fun. It's wonderful. I try to take these big vertical photos to show you the big trees at our playgrounds. At least the playgrounds that this mama prefers! (Some playgrounds literally have no trees and no shade, and I honestly cannot handle those.) It's hot today — 97 degrees forecasted — but really, until today, the weather has been absolutely perfect this summer. Eighty degrees and sunny, sometimes cloudy (yay!). Once it stopped raining, the sun came out (mostly) and the local gardens absolutely exploded with joy. We needed that rain so, so much. A few months of spring rain has made summer living just blissful. Absolutely blissful. I'd forgotten that the grass could be green, the plants could survive, the trees could look quenched in July. Well, I am loving it.

Next week is Andy's and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Egads!!! That means we've been together for thirty years now. Silver anniversary. Instead of getting a silver present, we bought three little gardens to plant in our raised beds. We got one August Afternoons and two Summer Dreams pre-planned gardens, all from High Country Gardens. They shipped to us back in May and we planted them then. The plants were very small and a few did not make it. But all of the rain we had this spring — oh man. What a lucky, lucky break for us and these little gardens. Everything got watered in so well and now it is just lush and growing beautifully. The above picture is from the day last week when Andy planted a few of the replacement plants I bought at Portland Nursery and Amelia was helping him dig and tidy. We weeded everything, trimmed the vinca and clover, and fixed the willow fences, and everything is looking so pretty now. (In the picture there are a lot of oak leaves on the ground, and I'm now remembering that in the days before it was really windy one night and a ton of leaves blew down from the neighbor's trees — that was weird, because they usually don't do that.) But anyway, that area looks better in real life now than it does in that picture and I will take another one to show you how nice. I think I really recommend these gardens. We have replanted that areas so many times. Over the past twenty years it has been a rose garden, many failed vegetable gardens, a random wildflower garden, a random flower seed garden, and kind of a messy dahlia garden. BUT NOW it is going to be an August Afternoons and Summer Dreams garden and I am absolutely determined to take care of it and not replant this area again.

The tree to the left of Amelia in the picture is a gnarly old plum tree that dies more every year. I'm fairly certain it's almost a hundred years old and it has had so many large limbs that have died and then been trimmed that it just looks horrendous. It also drops cherry-sized plums all over the sidewalk which explode upon landing and make such a mess that people actually cross the street rather than walk past our house (like right now — they're falling now). We are going to apply for a permit to have it removed and replace it with an Eddie's White Wonder dogwood I think it is. Or a Venus dogwood or a Starlight — any opinions on these? (There's a list of approved parkway trees under power lines that we have to choose from.) I hope our permit gets approved. You can't really see the tree in this picture but it has a large, low-hanging limb that hangs over the driveway into our neighbor's parkway and it is dead now. There are sooooo many of these plum trees around Portland and they all look to be really ancient and just totally gnarly. The plums are sour as anything (and are super tiny to boot) and the trees just get so covered in lichen and suckers and, I don't know. They're pretty gross. I wonder if they were all planted at the time these neighborhoods were built in the 1920s. I have no idea how much it is going to cost to remove the tree, or plant a new one. I'm scared. I hope it's not a huge amount of money. We've been putting this off for a while. We were told the last time we got the tree trimmed (maybe four years ago) that it needed to be 50% dead to be removed, and ours was only 40% dead. Pah!

Anyway, mid-July. I'm taking a pottery class at the community college down the road. I went to my first class on Friday, having completely missed the actual first class the week before because I read the date wrong. I literally almost cried. I was just sitting around doing nothing, anxiously awaiting the start of my pottery class!!! Hello! I threw two pots in the class. Well, in open studios, too. The class is from about 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and then open studios (where you get to just practice on your own) is from 1:30 until 4:30. My second pot took me two hours, I do know that. The clay (B mix?) was so, I don't know, sturdy? I couldn't get the pot "open." I didn't want to mess it up! Which was just silly. But I mean . . . let me just say . . . how unbelievably awesome it is to just sit there for two hours and throw one pot. I didn't even care. The music was on, the other students were so sweet and friendly, the teachers were just great. And I just sat and centered the clay and then opened the clay and then pulled up the sides. For two hours. One pot. Me to teacher, at 3:30: "Paul, I want to throw another pot but we only have an hour!" Paul, drily: "I could throw an entire dinner set in an hour." Hah! Paul. Gahhhh, it was so amazing. I was there from 9:30 until 4:30, all by myself! I don't know the actual last time I spent seven entire hours away from either Andy or Amelia. It's been years, guys. Y e a r s. It felt like the most ridiculous luxury. Throwing pots! Listening to non-Minecraft music! Not rushing because no one needed me to do something other than what I was doing, and nothing had to be cooked or cleaned there, and no one was crying about anything, or needed to be driven somewhere! Oh have mercy it was an exquisite indulgence, and to think I missed the first class!!!!!!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the orders these past few weeks, as well. I am so grateful for your orders and your interest and enthusiasm — thank you so much! The Stitcher's RSVP kit is almost sold out and I haven't decided if we will re-issue it. I have some extra evenweave fabric from kits over the years that I am going to try to use up before buying more. The minimum amounts I need to order from the distributor have increased (for certain fabrics) and I just don't have the numbers that I used to to make doing large quantities of kits an absolute no-brainer like it used to be. 2022 was the year I was supposed to be getting my patterns ready for wholesale (along with, you know, 2021, and 2020, blurgh) and I am going to focus on that when Amelia goes back to school in the fall. I swear I am going to! That said, I have lots of new ideas, so I will have lots of new patterns — they just might not all make it into kit form. We'll see. It's been a long few years and I've been doing my best not to just get . . . lost in space. Like everyone else, I'm sure. One foot in front of the other. That said, A Tender Year: July hasn't even been designed yet. It'll all get done eventually, I hope. Maybe just not during this actual tender year. But when I have more help from Portland Public Schools.

Some good shows: The Great Pottery Throwdown (obbbbbviously). We've watched it two or three times now (and the most recent season is so great). We really liked Signora Volpe (kind of a cross between Miss Marple and Under the Tuscan Sun). I just finished bingeing all of the seasons of Line of Duty on the recommendation of a friend and that was intense! If you have a child, we all really liked Just Add Magic. I also really liked Redemption, though Andy didn't see it. I love television.

19 comments

What on EARTH is your cat doing upside-down in that tree?! I have never seen the like! :-)

Mimi in her blue gingham and red sunglasses for the 4th, so sweet! But that taupe pair in earlier in the thread made her look about 16.
Missing a class due to misread date: sounds like me. I missed my return flight to Seattle because I read our departure time as 4 pm (which was actually our arrival time) and was blissfully getting a coffee on my way to the airport, because I had so, so much time. that was an expensive little mistake. Agreed, Pottery Throwdown is awesome. And please, please get yourself a N100 respirator for your classtime. These new variants super contagious!

I can't believe how grown up Amelia looks with that sweet baby in her lap. Like she went from a little girl to a tween! :O I have wanted to try pottery forever.... I looooove your pot. How fun!

Just Add Magic! Yes! My son and I watch it in the Fall! I cannot get behind the new one (Mystery City I think it's called....maybe?). It's just not the same.

Caroline says: July 13, 2022 at 07:22 AM

I'm so glad you are enjoying pottery and I secretly wish I taught classes on the WEST coast instead of the EAST coast so I could have you in my class!

You are too much. "Lost in space." That's me. Thank you for letting us in your life and times. You make me miss Portland. And I have done that very thing where you are barely enduring waiting for something and then have calendar fail and somehow miss the very thing you are sorely anticipating. Anyway, I love you, you never stop inspiring me.

Penelope says: July 13, 2022 at 12:00 PM

It’s a happy day when a post from you surfaces…..from your pictures to your descriptions, I’ve been smitten for years !!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Try Brokenwood mysteries on Acorn TV …it’s a detective show, the “guy” sorta reminds me of the old Colombo character from years ago. This guy doesn’t wear an oversized trench coat, but he’s way into country music! I love your garden !

Happy anniversary to both of you!! The garden idea is a lovely idea. So nice to see Andy and Amelia planting those plants. Your backyard looks so peaceful and full of life. Love her sunglasses for the 4th of July! Cutie! We had our little grandkids here from Singapore for the 4th. It was fun! Whau! Those are gigantic trees...I must go to Oregon someday despite that everyone makes me scared telling me that there is too much crime there. Your cat is adorable! We are watching The Three Musketeers - Amazon. Love to see what you have been cooking, those crepes looks great!! Sending you my love and wishing you and your family a wonderful Summer!!

Lora Gabor says: July 14, 2022 at 07:49 PM

We got a tree maybe a little smaller removed in Seattle 3 years ago, where everything is silly expensive, and it was $3,000.
The trees are SO big in PNW. I miss that. They are much smaller in NC where we just moved. They are like little baby trees, how cute!

Dear Alicia, I read your blog from the beginning, more than fifteen years now. Your stories and photographs have given me peace and inspiration throughout all this time. I also follow Jenny (wikstenmade) since the beginning and I was sad all this time without seeing her posts on instagram due to her new motherhood. Also in 2021, after many difficulties, I finally managed to become a mother. Seeing this publication and finding Jenny and her sweet family sharing a day with you has surprised me a lot and it has given me a lot of hope to see her.

I send my best wishes to both of you.

I am so happy to have found your blog and website again. I had found your blog back when Posey was a newborn and followed for a good 3-4 yrs and got married and lost you when the the new household and computers were combined. Seeing your Posey all grown up and a new sister in her lap was such a joy for me. I even have pictures I have saved of her on my "Inspiration for drawing", file. Please can we be friends again? I have two favors to ask from you. It says The RSVP cross-stitch is sold out, but I hope you will be restocking it Because I really, really, really want to get one. As I was scrolling thru pictures, I came across a rust-colored pinafore with embroidery and pretty little blouse. Did you design this or get the pattern somewhere else. I now have 3 new sweet Great-grands, a sweet little red-head that matches me. I will say good bye here.

I didn't know (or had forgotten) you were friends with Jenny! Jenny is the reason I got into making my own clothes as I used to follow her on Flikr (remember that!) And she would post the most amazing outfits. I 100% agree about trees in parks, I mean why bother even making a park without shade, why?? Happy anniversary you two! I love you bought plants, gardens are surely the gift that keeps on giving! My own garden it's as dry and brittle as an old stick at the moment (like you see are desperate for rain and sadly we had a dry spring) but I know it will look lush and beautiful again one day!

My daughter loved Just Add Magic when she was young. Have you watched Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street? That was a hit too-though be warned there is a death of a parent that's dealt with that's very sad. I'm not sure how tender-hearted Amelia is.

I agree about our summer, I wrote how much I loved it and then the miserable heat dome hit. Today is the first day I feel there's hope of relief. Stay cool!

Andy's t-shirt for garden work is perfection!!!!

My way-too-grown-up-now 14yo reminded me of Just Add Magic the other day. I drove her up north to drop her off at camp, and can't remember now what made her think of it, but we both loved that show. I might have to re-watch it while she's gone.

We're going to go look at trees tomorrow. We have a huge maple in the backyard that looks pretty stressed lately, had to have 2 trees taken down already, and have another 2 that need to come out - and we have a small yard! The quote to have our pine tree lopped off was over $600. :( I think we'll plant a couple of trees this fall, work on getting the dying trees out in the spring, and hope the maple can hang on for awhile yet.

I just finished re reading the book "The Good Master", by Kate Seredy. It is a Newberry Honor book, first published in 1935. I think you would love it. It has really cute illustrations, set in Hungary before WWI. The little heroin, Kate, is so cute and energetic, she's not an orphan, but kind of gets adopted by her aunt, uncle and cousin- I won't tell you more, don't want to spoil the book, but it is a happy book about lots of things, there's healthy mischief, lots of love, fun times, and even good descriptions of traditional Hungarian costumes and clothing, all the embroidery!

I also loved this series of books that are fictional, and incorporate Chinese folk tales in a wonderful way that's very appropriate for Amelia's age. You'd love them too, very good messages:
"Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" (Newberry honor)
"Starry River of the Sky"
"When the Sea Turned to SIlver" (National BOok Award Finalist)
All by Grace Lin. They will make you love Chinese folk tales!

I also liked the "Serafina" series by Robert Beatty. If you guys like Harry Potter, I think you'll really like this series too. And his "Willa" series. Fun books with a bit of magic. His website has "book trailers" for the books you can watch.

And since you guys live by the Wildwood Forest, I would also recommend someday the "Wildwood" series by Colin Meloy. They are bigger books (3 of them), but the storyline is about the same level as the beginning Harry Potter books. And very well written, very interesting, and inspired by the Wildwood Forest in Oregon.... I originally bought them because I liked the front cover illustrations so much, and was delighted that the books were really fun to read! I have read them twice.

And I did like "The Mysterious Benedict Society"- it's a really fun, good book. Disney made a series from the book which is pretty good, on Disney Plus. It does have some adoption stuff in it, so maybe watch it first, I don't have a lot of personal experience with adoption, so I think you'd better look into it first just in case. But it was put out this past year, so I would think they would have tried to be sensitive about it.

Hello: I enjoy reading your blog so much. It has inspired me many times in my own creative work, and also gives me a sense of calm as I read. I am also thrilled you have been to many areas I have also been, like Culver, and the academy there; Rock Island, Ill., Starved Rock. We always went to the 4th of July fireworks there, and watched the Black Stallions demonstrations. Many picnics and days of summer swimming there. Lake Maxintuckee was such a big part of my growing up. My Scandinavian family roots, I miss all those places and people. It helps to reflect and remember them to keep them alive, and your sentiments and stories help do that. XXOO

Just Add Magic! Yes! My son and I watch it in the Fall! I cannot get behind the new one (Mystery City I think it's called....maybe?). It's just not the same.

I'm so glad you are enjoying pottery and I secretly wish I taught classes on the WEST coast instead of the EAST coast so I could have you in my class!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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